Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wonderful Wooden Woofers

Perhaps some of the most creative figural jewelry may be found in the medium of wood. Many pieces of wood jewelry are hand-crafted miniature works of art. Some were made by companies, some by individual artists, and some as craft projects in the home. Mary Jo Izard documents the history of wooden jewelry in her book Wooden Jewelry and Novelties.

Wooden Dogs from The Museum

Dogs are well represented in wooden jewelry. The Dog Jewelry Museum currently houses 37 wooden dog pins. Here are some highlights of this collection.

Manufactured light wood Borzoi pin

The two Borzoi dogs above and below are examples of machine manufactured wood pins.

Manufactured dark wood Borzoi pin

Hand painted wood artisan Doberman pin

The hand-painted Doberman, above, and the hand-carved Husky, below are good examples of pieces made by individuals. The Doberman dates from about 1970, the Husky is probably from the 1940s.

Hand carved wooden Husky dog pin

Below is an example of how clever wooden jewelry can be! The dog in this pin is dynamic, it's head moves up and down as it "howls".

Dynamic dog and cat wood brooch

Wooden figurals are sold by many online jewelry dealers. Prices vary considerably, with machine manufactured and home-craft pieces being the least expensive, while those pieces that incorporate bakelite and other unique materials and are masterfully carved garnering in the hundreds of dollars.

Wooden jewelry is as stylistically varied as jewelry of other materials. Here's an Art Deco greyhound pin made of ebony wood:

Art Deco ebony wood greyhound dog pin
Click on the image above to see the listing in The Dog Jewelry Museum to take a look at the back of the greyhound.

Clues to Collectability -- Look at the Back

The backs of wooden pins are quite helpful in determining the merits of the piece. The optimal fastener for wooden brooches is a pin back where the clasp and the hinge are screwed as two separate pieces into the wood. These fasteners are usually quite long and sturdy, holding the pin properly in position when attached to clothing. It takes a measure of skill to attach the two pieces at proper spacing and so the brooch hangs correctly. See the back of the Pekingese brooch below for an example of this type of fastener.

Back of wood Peke brooch

Our hand-crafted Husky friend from above illustrates another type of clasp, the "all one piece" hinged pin with safety clasp. While this is common in the more mid-range wooden pieces, make special note that it is screwed into the wood, preferable to having the pin back just glued in place.

Hand carved wood Husky dog pin with screw attached pin backing

Glued pin back on hand-painted wooden Doberman dog brooch

There are numerous variations in the all one piece pin backing. Better wooden pins have longer, heavier pin backs and, if glued, are neatly attached. Some have safety catches, others simple C-clasps.

One final pin type is the embedded safety pin clasp shown below.

Embedded safty pin backing

Wood Dachshund dog pin with leather tail

Where to find wooden figural pins?

The usual places, antique malls, Ebay, and online stores are all good places to shop. Here are a few favorite links:

Lori Kizer's Vintage Jewelry

Morning Glory Jewelry

Barbara B. Wood's Antique Jewelry

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