My brooches are not ‘actual’ birds – robins, thrushes and such – they are more a sort of representation of the way I feel about birds. I draw a design first, copy it into plywood, cut it out and make a three-dimensional plywood mould, then throw some very hot pewter into it. The character of the bird only really happens after it’s been cast, when I take it out of the mould. They usually suggest a name for themselves straight away, and then I have to work out what it is they are doing. Ethel, for instance, had me completely baffled until someone pointed out that she should be carrying a magnifying glass, and then I knew that she was investigating the case of the missing teaspoons.
The brooches sit on a little cork perch inside the box so you can stand the box up and they can see out. The bird’s name stays in the box when you take the brooch out to wear it, it becomes a little secret between you and your brooch. How you introduce your brooch to the rest of the world is entirely up to you. Depending on how silly we’re feeling, Bertie and I sometimes go out together as Consuella Smackjacket and The Dishonourable Lord Peapie.