When Mum and I started crafting in the early eighties, it was imagination all the way with very little in the way of craft books or patterns unless we're talking knitted tea cosies or baby stuff. The massive boom in patchwork and quilting was still 12 years away and making your own jewellery no more than stringing round beads together.
The brooches came about when I had felt ovals left after embroidering photo frames. I mean they did have to have somewhere for the picture to show through. The one on the left, cream one isn't as delicate as the black. I exchanged green thread for gold metal and later instead of freehand embroidery of the bows, I used small gold metal bows. Then I moved on to embroidering on pure silk, highlighting with very tiny pearls and putting them into gold and silver surrounds.
With the first brooches I did everything. The internal support was cut from cardboard after being traced from my template. My thumbs did ache after cutting out a hundred 6cm x 4.5cm ovals and not one to waste, small pieces of cardboard became smaller and cheaper brooches without bows.
The guipure lace trim would never go around and lay flat without a small piece cut out of the edge. Something that one woman never got the hang of when she tried teaching a class using one of my brooches as her own. A loyal customer came to the market and told me. So the roses followed the same pattern on each, just the colours changed and those bows were a horror to get even. The felt was glued to the cardboard and pinking shears used to make the zigzag edge which was then glued down without buckling. The back went on with a simple safety pin pushed through the felt. I did have a photo but the computer went on strike when I was trying to load it.
At first it was just the guipure but I thought it was a little too plain so in between the tiny arches of the guipure I'd drop a little glue and then with a darning needle, pick up the pearls and drop them on the glue making sure the holes couldn't be seen. I think the most I ever sold was 35 at the Christmas market of l989 and I charged a whopping $6 each. I made more money at that market than I'd ever seen and I bought a Hoover vac with it. The vac's still going strong even if I'm not.
By l992, the brooch market was dead and so were my photo frames. I was ahead of the times for embroidery, during the nineties it became big, ribbon embroidery, Brazilian, petit point, cross stitch and books for it all. Then came Tracey Marsh with her 'How to make' books and suddenly every woman and dog became a crafter, even later came the smarties who cut out the fabric and sold ready to make kits. Mum and I managed to keep ahead of the pack by changing the things we made, babies everything for mum and I found a hole in the market for wedding favours. That was until dressmakers began using left over from the wedding dresses and made to match. One of our fellow stall holders said that if we saw an idea in an American magazine then we had 6 months to make and sell it before it reached here and everyone was into it. She was dead right.