Learn to Make Brooches, Fashion's Most Versatile Piece of Jewelry

8 Apr 2011

Tammy Jones editor Jewelry Making Daily
 
Tammy Jones is the
editor of Jewelry Making Daily.

Brooches are probably the most versatile piece of jewelry. Sure, you can pin one on your blouse, sweater, jacket, dress, scarf, hat, or just about anywhere else for a little dash of pretty (or bling, depending on the brooch you pick!). But have you considered all the other ways to wear them? You can wear brooches in your hair like sparkling hair accessories, especially when hair is up in a bun or ponytail. You can hang a brooch on a chain as a pendant or pin a brooch on a fabric or leather cuff to embellish it. Pinning a brooch on a simple clutch instantly turns it into an evening bag. I've even taken the pin off a brooch and transformed it into a bold cocktail ring with wirework techniques.

 
My freshwater pearl and copper wire brooch is built on a domed sieve or strainer-style base (shown below).
There's a flat back with a pin that snaps in place over this part to hide all the background stuff. 
But even just worn as pins, brooches are fashionable and oh-so-feminine jewelry pieces. I just moved to Louisiana, and I keep seeing the word lagniappe, which folks tell me means "a little something extra." Wearing a brooch is adding a little something extra. When you think about everyday jewelry, most ladies wear earrings every day, at least one ring most of the time, and often a necklace or some layered necklaces, sometimes even a bracelet or stacked bangles—all of those can be "everyday" jewelry. But donning a brooch usually means it's a special occasion or you have some reason to look a little extra pretty . . . and who'd say no to extra pretty?

Making Brooches: Easier Than You Think
Brooches are one of my favorite kinds of jewelry to make (second only to rings). They are also just about the easiest piece of jewelry to make, depending on the jewelry-making techniques you employ to make one. When making a brooch, there's no clasp or knotting to deal with (as when you're making necklaces or bracelets), and you don't have to match two alike (as with earrings). You also don't have to measure when making a brooch, as one size fits all. (Hmm, brooches might have just surpassed rings as my favorite jewelry piece to make. . . .)

There are a wide variety of brooch or pin backs on the jewelry-making market that can make your brooch making easy or really, really easy. The sieve or strainer-style brooch base is very versatile because it allows you so many options for wiring on beads or found objects. I used one of those backs to make a copper wire and freshwater pearl flower brooch, inspired by a vintage pearl flower brooch designed by Tiffany & Co.

You can also make your own tension-pin back by just soldering on wire in three easy steps, as demonstrated by Julie Jerman-Melka in her Pottery Shard Brooch silver jewelry-making project. Here's an excerpt from her project to show you how:

   

1. Use 4" of 20-gauge round nickel wire for pin mechanism. Bend wire in half and solder ends to back of brooch with medium solder. Pickle and sand any excess solder. Note: Make sure you locate the mechanism above the central axis so the pin will sit properly when worn.

2. Snip wire for catch at 3/16" and bend over.

3. Curl wire for pin stem twice with round-nose pliers to create tension for mechanism. End of pin should extend slightly beyond catch. Snip end if too long, then file, sand, and polish.

The rest of Julie's Pottery Shard Brooch project (along with two other silversmithing projects) are available in our free silversmithing eBook.

Brooch Jewelry-Making Ideas
Now that you're awed by their versatility and encouraged by how easy they are to make (right?), you need inspiration! Here are some of my favorite brooch/pin e-projects from the Jewelry Making Daily shop. There are lots of special occasions coming up that call for a little lagniappe. Let's see . . . you'll need one for Easter, one for Mother's Day (or two?), one for graduation, one for a spring wedding. . . .  

   
Fold Formed Bronze Brooch
by Helen Driggs
Moonlit Landscape Pin
by Noel Yovovich
Beaded Laced Rose Pin
by Arlene Baker

So is it a brooch or a pin? What's the difference? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! And come back to Jewelry Making Daily tomorrow for more about brooches in fashion.


Featured Products

Fold Formed Bronze Brooch

Availability: In Stock
Was: $4.00
Sale: $2.00

eProject

Make a textured, fold formed brooch out of inexpensive metal.

More

Moonlit Landscape Pin/Pendant

Availability: In Stock
Was: $4.00
Sale: $2.00

eProject

Get mystified with this moonstone and mixed metal pin/pendant.

More

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Comments

LauraM@119 wrote
on 8 Apr 2011 8:47 AM

where can you purchase the sieve or strainer style brooch base with the cover that snaps on???

TammyJones wrote
on 11 Apr 2011 2:17 PM

giftanne, absolutely! LauraM, working on that too. I'll post here again this week.

on 12 Apr 2011 6:54 AM

I've been inspired. Thank you. And pin or brooch. It's a question of size to me. A brooch OS classic a sizeable. Whereas a pin is worn with subtlety, small, tiny even. Almost going unnoticed altogether. A brooch is worn to be seen. Much like a cocktail ring. Prettiness is a state of mind, but a nice piece of jewelry only enhances and elates!

on 12 Apr 2011 3:17 PM

Thank you so much for the link to the pearl brooch that I found!, I am glad you liked it!

www.collectingfinejewels.blogspot.com

Vivian Heath wrote
on 27 Jul 2011 1:20 PM

The finding used in the pearl brooch is one  we have used in mixed media type jewelry for years.  I carry it in my bead shop, Beaded Bunny Hill, in three sizes in the round, a heart shape and a round donut shape, as well as earrings, both pierced and clip.  If anyone is interested, they can reach me at vlheath@windstream.net.  I love the use of pearls on it, but it has many possibilities.  Vivian