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Well, we are at the final day of our brooch adventure. I have so many brooches we could continue for another twelve days. But we’ll wrap it up with this lovely embroidered bird brooch.

This unique piece belonged to my mother, but she gave it to me some time ago. I have always loved it and I know that she bought it at a shop called White Duck Workshop on College and Ashby in Berkeley. WDWS was a boutique that sold handmade clothing for women. Known for a certain California aesthetic of the 1970s, WDSH created dresses and skirts in patchwork and appliqué corduroy. As times changed, so did their style. I remember by the 1980s they’d dropped the folk patchwork look for the oversized power look of the day, but still keeping the handmade Berkeley aesthetic.

The bird and flowers are embroidered on silk and I think perhaps the fabric was part of a larger piece – a kimono? – and was made into a brooch. Or it could have been a button. Either way, I suspect the fabric is antique. I think my mother bought the brooch in the 1970s or 1980s. She didn’t wear it often and I don’t either, as it looks delicate. But when I do, I pin it to a rust colored sweater that was also my mother’s and one of my favorite sweaters to wear on cold days.

This brings us to the end of The Twelve Days of Brooches. I hope ODFL readers enjoyed the series. Next year we will do it again with another vintage collection.

Fox brooch by Lea Stein.

Today we’re looking at a brooch from of my Lea Stein collection. I find these unique plastic brooches in London, usually at the Monday Antique Market in Covent Garden but they can be found in shops as well. I’m drawn to her pieces for their multi-dimensional quality, unusual textures and … her images make me smile.

Although there’s a bit of mystery surrounding Ms. Stein, we know that she is a French artist who in the 1960s, with her husband, came up with a way to layer and laminate thin sheets of plastic. This layering technique allows Ms. Stein to create texture by adding pieces of material, such as lace or metal, in between the layers. After cooling, the plastic is cut into all kinds of shapes from Art Deco women in hats (an early design) to owls, cats, and dogs. Animals seemed to be favored and today they are among the most collectible.

There are some copycats out there now, but a true Lea Stein is signed on the pinback.

My stylish fox gets a prominent place on the shoulder of a black A-line wool dress I like to wear to afternoon parties or sometimes I place him on the lapel of a coat. He gets a lot of attention whenever I take him out.

Come back tomorrow for the last of the series.

We’re on Day Ten of The Twelve Days of Brooches and today we have a vintage rhinestone flower brooch.

This brooch was given to me by my mother and I think perhaps it had belonged to her mother and all that makes it special to me, but there’s another reason it’s close to my heart.

This brooch was the inspiration behind a key thread in the middle grade novel that I wrote and have recently been revising. In fact, the brooch in the novel is an important clue to the mystery. Writers often use objects as inspiration or guides for their writing and when I was working on the scenes that included the flower brooch, I would place this one in front of me and sometimes stop and imagine it inside the story where it has a very full life on the Tube in London. It’s nothing special otherwise, it has no markings, but it’s well made and it has a lot of presence. I don’t wear it often, but sometimes I pin it to an evening bag for extra sparkle.

Only two more days to go. Come back tomorrow and see what’s next.

We’re coming close to the end of The Twelve Days of Brooches and Day Nine is a nod to the writer or pen enthusiast.

This charming brooch popped up while I was searching through a box of buttons at the Alameda Antique Faire. Since I’m a writer, of course it had to be added to my collection. It is black enamel on gold tone and it has a little rhinestone on the nib (tip). As I said, charming.

I wear this on the lapel of a blazer whenever I’m going somewhere for professional writers, like a conference.

Come back tomorrow for Day Ten and another brooch story.

Mid-century copper brooch.

Hello to Day Eight and a copper brooch. I found this at an outdoor antique market in Philadelphia for $5. It’s not marked but I know from the design and the fact that it’s copper that it dates to the 1950s.

Although sparkly chunky pieces with colored rhinestones are the iconic jewelry look of the 1950s, a more subtle Arts & Crafts style was also popular and copper was the perfect metal for that. There were two companies at the time making copper jewelry – Francisco Rebajes of New York and Jerry Fels, founder of both Renoir of California and Matisse Ltd., based in Southern California. Rebajes sold his pieces out of his store in NYC and Fel sold his work to department stores. Some of Fel’s pieces were enameled, the most recognizable is the painter’s palette. After much success, both companies closed in 1964.

I really like the atomic shape of this brooch as well as the texture. It lives permanently on the lapel of my wool blazer.

It’s January 1, 2023. Here’s to a new year with more opportunities for creativity and growth!

The Twelve Days of Brooches continues tomorrow. Day Nine … what will it be?

Victorian glass brooch.

Today’s brooch feels festive and I often wear it for a New Year’s Eve party or some other special celebration. My mother gave it to me and I think it’s Victorian, perhaps crystal or glass. It reminds me of a icicles or a waterfall and since it’s quite large and slightly heavy, I pin it to a coat. An even better place to wear it is on a handbag.

This Corde handbag (circa 1930s), embellished with a Victorian brooch, is just the thing for a New Year’s Eve celebration.

Start the new year off tomorrow with Day Eight of The Twelve Days of Brooches.

Wishing all ODFL readers a happy and safe New Year’s Eve.

Watch face brooch.

It’s Day Six and we’re looking at a watch face brooch that I made.

When I was in college I had a small business making and selling jewelry (I called it Personal Fixtures). I worked with found objects, mostly vintage buttons and as we see here, watch faces. The watch faces came to me from a friend who collected all kinds of strange odds and ends. He gave me boxes of faces and parts and I made brooches out of them. They were popular with customers, but I had a big problem – adhesive. I just couldn’t find anything that would bind the smooth enamel surfaces or even the metal parts. I had the same issue with buttons. So eventually I gave up my jewelry making business, but I hung on to whatever I had left in stock.

I still love this business card.

I learned a lot running my own little business including the fact that wearing what you make is the best advertisement. I wore these brooches mostly on sweaters and coats. I remember sporting one to a job interview just after I graduated from college. It was a position at a university and the nice woman in HR went crazy for my brooch and ordered one for herself and one for her daughter. Plus, I got the job!

That’s my Bakelite picture hat (upper left) on top of a page of picture hats in The Bakelite Jewelry Book, by Corinne Davidov (Schiffer Books).

For Day Five of the Twelve Days of Brooches we have a red Bakelite picture hat. Part of my Bakelite collection, this hat was an incredible find.

Bakelite is a type of plastic popular in the 1930s and early 1940s for making jewelry. By the end of WWII other materials replaced Bakelite and it fell out of use. In the 1980s there was a craze for collecting Bakelite and the prices soared into the thousands of dollars for some of the more unique pieces.

I have been collecting Bakelite ever since I first learned about it as a teenager. I found this hat at an antique store in Norman, OK for a mere $15. The hat brooches are very collectable and still hold their value even though in general prices had gone way down.

This piece is large and I wear it alone on the shoulder of a dress or a coat. It packs a punch and gets attention.

Tweeting vintage bird brooch signed Boucher.

Welcome to Day Four of The Twelve Days of Brooches. Today we have a special vintage piece signed Boucher. As in – French born Marcel Boucher, jewelry designer for Cartier.

Mr. Boucher was moved from Paris to the US by Cartier in the 1930s. He later took a job with another jewelry company and then in 1937 he founded his own company. He created bold pieces of jewelry often of animals and birds. His “fantasy birds” of the 1940s are particularly sought after. Achieving much success, he continued designing and manufacturing until his death in 1965. After that his wife took over the business until she sold the company in 1972.

My charming bird dates sometime after 1955 and I’m not sure where I got him, but a good guess would be that he was a Christmas stocking stuffer from my mother. She continued to give me a Christmas stocking long into my adulthood and often tucked in one or two pieces of vintage jewelry.

Boucher Bird is just the guy to add a little whimsy to a summer tote bag.

It’s Day Three and today would have been my mother’s birthday. So, it seems fitting to feature a carved jet brooch. (I recently wrote a post about jet and its importance in Victorian England for mourning.)

This brooch is Victorian and is set in gold. I bought it from a fellow jet collector. She is also the accomplished seamstress and she made my 1831 ball gown back when I was attending formal Victorian balls. It was one of those moments where I saw it and had to have it. No hesitation because I hadn’t seen many carved jet pieces – still don’t. It’s not polished and therefore has a matte finish and since it’s small I liked to wear this with other jet brooches on the lapel of a jacket.

Happy Birthday, Mom. We are thinking of you.