If you've been following my blog for a while, you've probably noticed that I have a thing for brooches, picking them up, preferably as cheaply as possible, at flea markets and in charity shops
A couple of weeks ago, the lovely Kezzie asked if I would do a blog post entirely dedicated to my collection. As she is a wearer of brooches herself, regularly publishing her 5 brooches posts, I am honoured to be asked, so here's a little peak at my collection of "broochage" (word pinched from Kezzie)!
I never set out to collect brooches, so I've never seen it as a collection. I'm just drawn to them and - having been born with what I call the "collecting gene" - one brooch just lead to another, and another, so that at a rough guess I now own about two hundred of them.
For I don't know how many years, I've hardly ever been known to leave the house without wearing at least one brooch.
I even wore them before I started wearing vintage and my first brooches were bought brand new on the high street. Here are some of those I am still wearing regularly today. Except for the butterfly, they're all from the IKEA of clothing: H&M.
My first vintage brooch, this cute little fox, was bought at a flea market many years ago.
I love him dearly and was heartbroken when I appeared to have lost him one day.
Somehow, he wasn't there when I wanted to unpin him from my cardie that night.
At first, I thought (or rather, hoped) I'd lost him at work but when I got in the next morning, he was nowhere to be found.
Fast forward a couple of weeks later, when I was plumping up the cushions of the sofa (which we euphemistically call the "chaise longue") in our spare room, and there he was! Phew!
Over the years, I kept on picking up the odd brooch, at flea markets and charity shops as well as the high street.
And although I have never worn them, I'm proud to own these three brooches which belonged to my Great Aunt Josephine.
They were languishing, unloved, at my parents' house for years until they came home with me to Dove Cottage.
It is said that the longer the pin, the older the brooch, so it's safe to say these ones are quite old.
I often wear these brightly coloured plastic brooches bought in a shop on Cardigan's high street, Mundos, while on holiday. They are new, but definitely have a vintage look. I've seen Kezzie wearing the duo of birds in bright pink!
Then two things happened which greatly boosted my collection of brooches.
First, I met the Brooch Lady at a flea market. Eighty plus years of age, she has been collecting for over thirty years, resulting in a collection of over 3000 brooches. My heart ached when she told me she was selling them so that her children wouldn't be stuck with her collection after she's gone.
They are reasonably priced, generally between € 5 and € 10, so I usually buy two or three brooches off her.
Then, while on holiday in Wales in June 2015, I kept finding brooches at a car boot, charity shops and a flea market. Here's a display of the total of 18 brooches I brought home that year.
Needless to say, this big explosion in broochage posed an altogether different problem, that of storage.
Last year, I hit upon the idea of storing them in empty cutlery boxes, which I'd found at a vintage shop. Soon, I ran out of space and had to look out for more boxes.
I use the 1970s round orange plastic jewellery box to store a selection of brooches, making it easier to choose on a day-to-day basis.
The orange apple ice bucket holds some of my bangles, and most of my non-vintage brooches are stored in the child-sized little sewing box.
The 1950s wooden jewellery box, on its spindly legs, holds miscellaneous vintage accessories.
As for the brooches, I try to group them per type, colour or theme, so here are some more for you to enjoy.
These celluloid brooches dating from the 1920s/1930s all came from the Brooch Lady, except for the one on the left, for which I paid € 0,50 in a charity shop. It's a souvenir brooch from Le Sacre Coeur in Paris. They are so delicate that I hardly ever wear them.
While I was photographing some of my collection for this post, it struck me how many of them are featuring flowers.
I've got several animal brooches as well, especially dogs, which is quite a surprise as I'm really more of a cat person. Aren't the little poodle pins delightful?
I'm sure you have seen all of my Bambi brooches before, but here they are, all together.
I simply cannot resist anything featuring baby deer. My favourite is the large green ceramic one.
I am certainly not an expert, but over the years, experience, as well as a lot of googling, has learned me what to look for. An important clue to whether a brooch is vintage or not lies in its fastening, so it's vital to learn at least a little bit about the different hinges, catches and pins.
In general, however, it's a love at first sight thing for me. If I love it, and the price is right, I buy it, not caring whether it's modern or vintage.
There are, of course, certain brooches I can spot from a mile off, like these pretty celluloid Edelweiss brooches. They usually command much higher prices than the 1 or 2 € I paid for them.
The pair of yellow-hearted ones comes with a set of real tinkling bells, which drive me and everybody else crazy when I'm wearing them.
Obviously, these are just a fraction of my little babies, so watch this space for a second installment at some point in the future.