Brooches – Minisculptures on Your Lapel

Thinking on a smaller scale

After concentrating on wall sculptures and small 3D sculptures for over two years, I had an opportunity to think even smaller – brooches.  The Contemporary Art Society of Victoria was holding its 12th Australian National Brooch Show from May to October 2019. Exhibitions were being held at both the Fitzroy and Eltham Public Libraries in Melbourne, and there would be ‘try and buy’ days to launch the show at both venues.

I had been thinking off and on about working on a smaller scale. Handmade jewellery designer Lynn  Allison from Devil May Care Designs in New Orleans had been following me on Instagram. She had encouraged me several times to try something ‘jewellery sized’. Until then, the smallest works I’d tried were miniature silver-coloured cityscapes on grey coloured chair legs.

So the brooch show announcement landed on fertile ground. I started going through my piles of junk looking for backing pieces that were smooth enough to glue a brooch clip to. Creativity Cluster artist Deidre Ogilvie went with me to source the clips in Prahran at Wholesale Beads on High Street. The amount of jewellery making resources in this shop were almost overwhelming!

Brooches seem to suggest themselves

So I bought 10 clips and already I need more. Just as with my wall sculptures, I try this and that, move things around, view alternatives. However, with the brooches, many of them seemed to suggest themselves, along with their names.

For example, a squished lug nut on a bent piece of metal perforated on one end was obviously ‘I Tips Me ‘At’. A flattened nail on an almost heart-shaped stone called itself ‘Cross My Heart’. Twisted metal spelling out the word Do on a piece of wood made me think ‘Just Do It’.

Some names didn’t come as easily

However, a couple names were more elusive. Although the brooches almost made themselves, their names didn’t flow. Finally, one with two bronze-coloured ‘faces’ on a flat stone suggested the wrapped faces of Magritte’s The Lovers; it became ‘Magritte in Metal’.

Another with several pieces of contrasting metal – a lovely square rusted backing piece with two holes, two bent ‘wings’ and a round ‘face’ – mounted on a tiny angled board, eventually suggested ‘Wings of a Dream’. However, when I posted this one on Instagram, most people interpreted the two holes as eyes, which made the wings seem more like a decoration on a hat. In fact, one Instagram follower thought the ‘face’ had a jocular personality—which I then recognised as well.

Brooch show now on

The National Brooch Show opened on 5 May at the Fitzroy Library and it continues there until 9 August. It then moves to the Eltham Library. More information is on the Contemporary Art Society website where you can also make online purchases. My brooches are numbers 157 to 161. Click on the thumbnail to see the full image enlarged.

My brooch making continues, so watch for new ones on Instagram at @nancydeesculptures or hashtag #nancydeebrooches.