19th Century Nails 4: Hamsa Protects – Handmade brooch


I was initially unsure exactly what the hamsa hand symbolised. However, after my online search, I now know that it is used as an amulet to protect people from evil. Hence, the title for this brooch: Hamsa Protects.

I created this one-of-a-kind handmade brooch called Hamsa Protects from a piece of blue and white ceramic tile, a 19th-century nail, and a hamsa hand. Normally I find all the bits and bobs needed to make brooches on the streets during my daily walks. However, the nail was special – a gift from a neighbour, found when the roof of her 1870’s house was being repaired.

Normally I create wall sculptures and 3D sculptures from the wood, metal and tiles I find on the streets of Melbourne. However, through Instagram I met handmade jewellery designer Lynn Powers from New Orleans. She encouraged me to try making jewellery from the objects I found on the street, but I never had.


Then in 2019, I saw that the Contemporary Art Society of Victoria was holding its Australian National Brooch Show at the Fitzroy and Eltham public libraries. I displayed five of my brooches–and found that making them is great fun. In 2020, my brooches were in Wearable Art at The Old Auction House in Kyneton and online in Survival Kit at the University of Melbourne George Paton Gallery.

In 2021, as part of Geelong and Melbourne Design Weeks, my brooches were featured in exhibitions at The Reimaginarium in Geelong and again at The Old Auction House in Kyneton. A special series using handmade 19th-Century nails from a friend’s roof were in the 2021 Australian National Brooch Show from May to October at the Fitzroy and Eltham Public Libraries, and this brooch was one of them. A wide range of my brooches was at CoLab Arts in the Park in The Pavilion at Fitzroy Gardens from July to September 2021. In 2022, they were featured in the exhibition Gold Rush at The Old Auction House.


And, of course, my brooches are always available through Incube8r Gallery in Fitzroy and Dimora Designs at Fyansford Paper Mill in Geelong, as well as online.