"Wind Beneath Her Wings" Brooch

The Wind Beneath Her Wings Brooch, 2022
sterling silver, copper and stainless steel
- B+S in 2021 and 1966 - 
Barbara and Stephen were the most lovely couple, I first met them at a studio tour in 2019 and have been supportive collectors of my custom work ever since(check out their wedding rings redesign here!). They visited the studio tours many years past in search of new local art and craft to gift each other and fill their home - Barbara and Stephen had a long history of love, friendship and traveling together and when he passed away, her niece Susan stepped in to help support her during the most difficult time of her life. Saying goodbye to those we love never gets easier, but with help from another loved one it can soften the pain. Susan became the wind beneath Barbara's wings as she navigated the loss of her husband and we planned a custom piece to represent this new chapter of their lives.
Using imagery of Susan and a few good stories told via email and postage, (Barbara send the BEST letters, filled with stories and photographs or magazine clippings for inspiration) We designed a brooch in her likeness with a profile view of her face, blowing a great plume of air into a large feather. Using layers of silver and copper, soldered and riveted in 3 planes, the fully fabricated design came to life.
This piece was challenging for me on many levels, regardless of the emotional aspect of the piece, I was not sure how Susan would react to her face on a piece of jewelry. I spoke to Barbara about size and weight and all the details we wanted to include and it came down to finding the perfect feather. I finally found one on my morning walk with Luna - a lovely, light weight, rounded grey feather, It reminded me of Barbara's soft demeanor and wise spirit.
Once I imprinted the feather onto the silver sheet, I pierced out the shape with my hand saw. I then oxidized and brushed back the high points to expose the texture and created a backing plate of copper to frame and support it. I pierced out her hair from brushed copper to match her red hair, and then her face in polished silver, these two layers were soldered together. The wire elements for her breath plume were the most challenging, lots of tweaking and many, many solder joints.  The handmade double pin stem findings were soldered to the back of the copper plate and finally all the layers were riveted with tube spacers to add a little depth to each element.
Susan and Barbara came to pick up the brooch and I was so pleased to see that my design of Susan really looked like her! Her eyes were filled with joyous tears as she put on her new piece. The three of us spoke for a while about lost loved ones and spirituality and how these people never truly are lost. I will always cherish these conversations and I am forever thankful to be able to use my craft to commemorate such important moments in peoples lives.
"It might have appeared to go unnoticed
But I've got it all here in my heart
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it
I would be nothing without you
Did you ever know that you're my hero?
You're everything I wish I could be
I could fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings" - Bette Midler