Creating a brooch


Wai-Yuk Kennedy’s brooches are quite complex 3D objects yet they are generally made from a single piece of flat material (sometimes two pieces.) Arriving at a finished form involves a great deal of experimentation combined with lots of experience. Over the years Wai-Yuk has developed a sophisticated process for developing new styles.
The brooch below is made from one flat piece of material.


Inspiration for shapes and colours of new work grows from observing the world around her and through drawing and taking photographs. These influences interact with her experience in making all her previous pieces to generate new ideas. She does not copy things she sees directly but subjects such as the shapes of fields and hedges, or the rhythms of the rocky headlands on the North Cornwall coast will suggest an approach.
Ideas can take shape as quick scribbles in a sketchbook.

The first stage in developing an idea in three dimensions usually starts with cutting up pieces of paper and twisting them into various shapes. These shapes are pinned to hold them in place so Wai-Yuk can study them. Most ideas are rejected but promising ones are re-cut a number of times with bigger or smaller variations.

Once an idea seems promising enough to take further it will be cut in some fairly stiff fabric and again studied for a while to decide if it is to be used. Once again, many shapes can be rejected at this stage.


When a brooch is to be made, the shape is first cut out of base fabric in the selected colour.

Even at this stage Wai-Yuk may still experiment with options for the final form but care must be taken as the fabric can be fragile until the edges are stitched.
Next, all the machine embellishment of the surface must be carried out while the piece is still flat.

The brooch can now be twisted into shape and hand-stitched in place. If beads are to be attached these are now hand sewn in place.
The brooch below is a different version of the flat shape above.

The final stage involves attaching a brooch back and finishing the back side. Wai-Yuk always aims to make the back side of a piece as neat as the front. This includes the fiddly job of covering the brooch back base with fabric.

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