mother of pearl, vintage cutlery handles, sterling silver, acrylic, steel hand pierced and hand fabricated. 13 x 1.5 cm, 2021.
This brooch is a flexible chainmaille structure of hand carved mother of pearl and vintage cutlery handles. I was initially compelled by the visual qualities of mother of pearl; the smooth, lustrous nacre being evocative of the Art Deco period as a signifier of technical innovation. Within its own structure, the mollusc nacre is an index of the tides, the waved patterning contributing to its remarkable protective strength. Even now, the mollusk produced nacre is being studied by chemists in effort to develop lightweight aeronautic materials and armour.
In the 1930’s and 40’s mother of pearl and other natural materials were simulated with bakelite, phenolic resins and other synthetics to create costume jewellery and popular functional items. I am fascinated by how these simulations have found their own value throughout the history of adornment by extending further into the general populations (sometimes covertly). The vintage cutlery handles allowed me to explore the subtleties of the two different materials. Optically similar, the mother of pearl is dense and compact, whereas the synthetic is almost stretchy, and endlessly durable. Together they are linked into a strong, collapsible network and brought to symmetry by the brooch mechanism. Armour for armour.