Thursday, November 14, 2013

Elven Penannular Brooches Designs

Elven Penannular Brooches

I was thinking about Elven Brooches.
While the brooches in the movie are beautiful, they never struck me as being hugely functional.

Leaf Brooch from the Lord of the Rings Movies
Because, basically its a glorified brooch pin. Which works great to hold lightweight fabrics together. But brooch pins aren't the sturdiest thing to hold a heavy wool cloak shut. I found this out using another brooch pin to hold my heavy wool cloak shut in the Philadelphia winter.

I found, what worked well were penannular brooches (fibula) invented in the Iron Age and used throughout history. Plus they are fairly easy to make, you don't need a forge, and can use old hangers, picture hanging wire, and standard toolbox tools to make them. (See tutorial here, part 1, part 2)
An Ancient Penannular Brooch: Sturdy and Practical
But I want to make Penannular Brooches that look Elven. We know they worked with metal, and loved leaf designs. Arwen was wearing a "belt of leaves, wrought in silver" at Rivendell. And the Loth Lorien elves made them the brooches which Tolkien describes as looking like a "newly opened beech leaf."

Beech Leaves

More Beech Leaves
 So I got to designing things, and here are a few sketches.

The basic brooch part, I can make with hangers, and if I want the vine-like effect, wrap in wire (see tutorial 1, 2). The leaf embellishment, I am still trying to figure out. The simplest would be to buy some metal-stamped leaves (for jewelry making) off etsy and wire (or solder, or glue, or epoxy) them on the ends. The same would go for securing the leaves to the end of the pin (the pin needs to be able to slid around on the brooch, so the leaves need to be attached to the pin, and not the ring)

I could also use wooden beads on the ends, and carve and paint them into leaf shapes.

Or use some sort of clay, and paint it. Or even metal clay ($$$).

Or cut thin metal sheeting, and learn how to stamp/tool metal leaves myself. It would all have to be cold-forging (aka what I can do with a tool box and my brains), as I don't have a forge.

OR paint leather and cut them into the shape of leaves and sew them onto the respective parts of the brooch with thread.

If I was going for pretty-looking and not authentic, I could try foil glued to plastic/glue gun molds, or painted baked salt-dough, etc.

I think using a deep green nailpolish over a shiny metal surface would give a beautiful effect. Like this tutorial, but with a lot more coats, to give it depth. Perhaps even lay wires down on the metal like leaf-veins, and fill in with the nailpolish. A kind of home-made cloisonne.
 We'll see.

UPDATE: So after slicing my fingers a few times, I decided to put beads (only wood or plastic, glass won't 'stick' on alas, unless solder or glue is involved) on the ends, and wrap the wire ends close to the base of the bead so its less likely to slice a finger.
I think, the best thing I can think for the leaves, is to get a flat wooden beads to get on the end. Then to carve and paint, and then woodglue, leaves onto the wooden beads.
For the leaves at the base, I think it would be ideal to use a bead (with a REALLY big threading hole) as the "hinge" of the pin (the pin is wire, and will be affixed to the bead), and then glue on a wooden (or metal) leaf from there....


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  2. If you scroll down far enough on google while searching for some variant of "perannular brooch" you end up here. After a bit of thinking I came up with a simple(ish) way to create these designs and made one in a similar style. You can see the result here.

    1. Wow, those are so amazing!!!!
      You are an amazing artist and craftsman.

      I am so touched that some of my ramblings actually contributed in some small way to something real that beautiful.