(Bridal) Brooch Journey


(This is copied from my Facebook page, which is not public.)

My journey began in May 2010 . . .

The Brooch Journey
   So I decided back in December that I wanted a brooch bouquet instead of real flowers after receiving my daily email from Daily Candy. The email featured a florist in San Juan Capistrano who created these beautiful bridal bouquets out of brooches. I felt this would make the day more sentimental as well as an incredible keepsake. This has been an interesting activity, to say the least, and I finally found a great tutorial online from someone who created hers a few weeks back.  (**Note:  although the tutorial was great, the method also ruined the enamel of the brooches... you'll read this in my journal.)
   The idea of the brooch bouquet is to use vintage pieces but who's to say you can't substitute for more modern styles? Well, I opted to do the "vintage" look, even if some pieces I have acquired are not actually "vintage", I think they will still contribute to the overall feel and look. Quickly becoming the latest fad, this note (thank you, Sue, for mentioning it to me) is for me to help provide my family and friends on the progress of this activity.
I will post pictures.....eventually.

Purchasing Brooches (I found this to be fun and stressful.)
The fun part
   The fun part of this was all of the brooches/pins I acquired from my family.  On one of my journeys back to Connecticut, my sister and I took an afternoon to raid our mother's jewelry boxes and took a morning to raid my aunt's jewelry boxes.  From this trip I acquired some really cute pieces, some of which I used to play dress-up with!
   On my last trip to Pennsylvania, my future mother-in-law gave me several pieces, which was extremely meaning and symbolic, making this activity that much more special because the bouquet would now incorporate Jim's family, not just mine.
   California Love: Doing one thing that she does BEST, Armina took my sister and me to a bunch of thrift stores (and for cupcakes!) around Long Beach.  I found a few good pieces, not to mention having a really good time with an old (not literally!!) buddy.
   My cousin's friend sent me several cute pieces and my sister has since gone brooch crazy shopping every thrift store in the state of Massachusetts.  Maid-of-Honor gone crazy!

The not so fun part
   Purchasing from ebay is always an... experience. Trying not to get my hopes up on anything, I think I had 80+ items in my Watch list and was bidding on about 50 of them, mostly as auctions were coming to an end. At the end of this (somewhat stressful) experience, I ended up with about 18. About two months following I won 9 more. No more e-baying for me.

Sample of some received and some won:
Day 1:
   The wire I have is not strong enough to create "stems" on the brooches, even the smaller ones. I think they'll be fine for earring studs but that's about it.

Day 2:
   Bought 20 gauge floral wire and it's working out much better. It isn't as tough to work with as I thought it would be and the activity itself is actually a lot of fun. I created the focal point of the bouquet with a large yellow brooch my sister bought, two star-like shaped earrings and my parents' wedding bands tied with pale green ribbon. I matched some smaller pins (animal shapes mostly) with larger floral brooches. Not everything will be paired but I wanted some to be together.  It also makes it much easier for when it comes time to arrange and bunch.  Made 15 stems today.

Day 3:
   Assembling more stems on the brooches my sister sent me while watching Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. What better way to spend an evening (??). Will be going out to pick up a soldering tool to fix the big green brooch my sister sent as I really want it to compliment the focal point. Made 19 stems.

Day 4:
   Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The tutorial I found provided some good insight into how to create the stems but it also ruined some of the enamel of the brooches so I adopted a different method- much easier and will not ruin the brooch and can be removed later on down the road. I am out of wire (for now) but got most of the brooches finished. This will be a nice break for a bit. Will celebrate with some camping and diving over the next two days.
Pictured here is an example of how I created the stem.  I wrapped the wire around the pin piece of the brooch instead of in between the petals.  If it ever came down to it, the bouquet could be disassembled and the wires easily removed to use the pin for other purposes.   

Day 5:
   Happy Fourth of July! Van Helsing and The Stepford Wives. Three weeks of battling swimmer's ear and a cold, left with a rash on the side of my neck and my left ear torn up due to an allergic reaction from the eardrops also causing my ear eczema to get out of control. I finished out the last 23 brooches of good size and what are left are smaller sizes such as leaves and earrings. Tomorrow I plan to purchase this bouquet gripper thing that I found at Hobby Lobby. I'm hoping it will work, it comes with floral foam and I think if I cut the foam in half and try to hollow out the middle a little bit that it will keep the "stems" stable. I may have to get a few of these in order to keep everything stable and contribute to the continuous width of the bouquet handle. After assessing what I have, I may need more brooches..... Will celebrate the Fourth with Peter Frampton in Blue Ash with Jim and Tsuchinaga-san.

Day 6:
   My parents came to town last month during Labor Day weekend and my sister came out the following weekend.  The goal was to group together brooches to get the bouquet started.  Jocelyn bought a styrofoam board so we could stick them facing up and move them into groups.  Bought the styrofoam board, bought some wine, stuck all the flowers in the styrofoam and there it stayed until tonight (October 30)!

Day 7:
   The Bourne Ultimatum and Highway to Hell.  I am going into week three of being sick and the meds I got from the doctor are not helping.  I no longer have a fever but the cough persists, as do the headaches.  I did venture out for some Halls and Vic's Vapor Rub and just that bit of time out made me grumpy and exhausted.  Interrupted sleep at night is not helping, neither is the fact that I am still up at 2 a.m. but I was very motivated this evening (which I will pay for come Monchiko's early morning feeding time when he is batting my face)...
   Anyway...  Wrapped a majority of the "stems" in floral tape to help conceal the wire.  The "accent" and smaller pieces I didn't bother.  FYI- working with floral tape is not fun.  I cleared off the table and grouped the brooches together:  large, medium, small, bouquet-style, flower brooches w/stems, animals, hearts, leaves, and cameos.  I had bought some faux floral stems and chopped them into smaller pieces to add.  The goal was to create a cascade-style bouquet.  I built the bouquet with groups of brooches.  The first couple of groups were easy but as I went along the bouquet became heavy, making it difficult to play around with where the next brooch should go and I was having a difficult time with wiring the new groups to the bouquet.  In the end, the bouquet took the shape of a human brain with antennae but I am very proud of what I accomplished tonight  :)   Next steps are to adjust some of the positions of the brooches, add green stems around the bottom to hide any wires and wrap up the handle and viola- all done.

Day 8:
   Austin Powers International Man of Mystery.  Opened up the bouquet a little more so it wouldn't look so much like a brain and added a few more brooches to fill in some gaps.  Pushed the little antennae down so it didn't look so funky and added some greens at the base to enhance the cascade effect.  Unless held properly, you can't tell it has a cascade-style so the picture does not do it justice.  Looks good, feels solid.  Just need to buy a few more green stems, wrap the handle and it shall be complete!

Day 9:
   Bones Season 5 (catching up old episodes).  Added some ribbon at the base to hide the wires and wrapped the stem in the sticky floral tape (note to self: never ever get the sticky floral tape for projects unless otherwise stated).  Now all I need is more of the ribbon I used at the base to wrap the stem and viola- all done.

Day 10:
   Mass Effect video game (Jim playing in the background).  Finally have the matching ribbon.  Cut away about 50% of the floral tape and wrapped up the ribbon along the base.  Cut about 2" wide white felt and wrapped around all along the stem to make it sturdy and even.  Wrapped the stem in the matching ribbon and used TONS of white pins to keep the ribbon in place along the front, back, base, bottom and an "X" design on the sides.  I left a little bit of ribbon hanging at the front that I will shorten and secure later on.  Cut back some of the cascading flowers at the front because it just started to look strange to me... so finally done with the bouquet minus shortening the hanging ribbon (which I will do as time gets closer).  What a RELIEF! 

   I have NO idea when I started putting this together.  I want to say it was some time in May or June but I started collecting brooches in early March.  Essentially, this was nearly a year-long project between collecting, assembling and finding good time to devote to it but.  The chronicle only shows ten days but most days were weekends after finishing up some studying and papers, starting at 2pm and ending at 2am.  This was fun and difficult but it will be a fantastic keepsake and, as Jim mentioned, possibly a family heirloom  :)
   Thank you to all who helped with the collection!  I can't wait to stroll down the aisle with this in hand  :)
  **I held a luncheon for my bridal party about a month before the wedding.  At the luncheon, my Aunt Geri gave me a blue handkerchief that had belonged to my grandmother.  It had a simple, delicate floral stitch.  I wrapped it around the base of my bouquet as my "something old and something blue" (you can kind of see it in the picture at the top).  Days before the wedding, I chopped some of the fake flowers that were supposed to be part of the cascade in the front... MUCH better, I have to say.  At first I thought the long cascade looked nice but in the end it seemed out of place and unnatural.**

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