Penannular Brooch

A customer asked me if I could make a penannular broach of silver, decorated with a golden-eyed cat design. It took some experimentation, but I succeeded! I’m going to walk you through the process.

A penannular brooch is, typically, a circle with a circular hole in the middle (there are other designs, but this is a common one). A pin is attached to the front of the brooch, so the pin can be slipped through loosely woven fabric (e.g. lace or loose knitting). After much consideration, I decided the best way to do this was to roll out and texture silver clay (1.25 mm thick). I made the pin 1.5 mm thick, and did not texture it. The pin needs a hinge, so it can be moved back and forth. I made the hinge 1 mm thick, with untextured clay. The three pieces, prior to firing, appear below.


The hinge fit around the narrowest part of the background. To avoid the possibility that the hinge and brooch would fuse during firing, I wrapped the part of the brooch that the pin would touch in paper. This arrangement is pictured below, with the paper and hinge in place.


Then I added the pin, attaching it with slip.


Since the hinge allowed the pin part to swing freely, that addressed the issue of possible fusing — the pin could be swung out of the way during firing.

The customer wanted a cat to decorate the pin. I used a commercial mold to produce a cat face and attach to the pin. I attached it at the bottom, so the weight would not cause the brooch to sag, when worn.


I then did standard clean-up, filing away any excess silver and patching a few cracks with syringe. In the process, I broke and had to repair the pin more than once. This was a tedious process, because the hinge and brooch got in the way of doing the repairs. I then fired the piece.

20191224_094553Since the customer wanted the cat to have golden eyes, I applied 22K gold paste, and refired.


I then applied a LOS/ammonia/salt patina, and then rubbed most of the patina off, so the piece was not too dark. I then applied a few traces of Black Max, in an attempt to approximate the color pattern of the customer’s own cat. Two views of the finished piece appear below, one with the pin across the brooch and the other with the pin swung to one side. I included a coin in the photo for scale. The gold in the eyes does not show up well in these photos — the gold shows up best in artificial light, and the patina shows up best in natural light. Both these photos were taken in sunlight.



A penannular brooch is a doable metal clay project. It takes time to make one. For the pin to be large enough to support the weight, it is probably best that the brooch only be worn with loosely woven fabric. However, it is quite doable, if one is willing to put some effort into it.


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