The Houses of Parliament 'New Dawn' Jewellery Collection - Making the 'New Dawn' Brooch

Posted by Sally Lees on

The 'New Dawn' commission to create a collection of jewellery to accompany Mary Branson's artwork celebrating women's suffrage was an exciting and intense project.

The most difficult thing was that I was sworn to secrecy!

I did so many sketches with lots of ideas about quite diverse pieces of jewellery that captured the esscense of the 'New Dawn' artwork. The highly polished surface of the aluminium really suited the job as it can be dyed a variety of vibrant colours.

Sally Lees New Dawn Sketches and Scrolls imagery inspiration









I used tansfer prints of my original drawings of scrolls to decorate the polished aluminium sheet then I dyed the aluminium a variety of colours. At least seven colours needed to be incorporated to represent the eight suffrage organisations. Green, purple, red, yellow and blue were the main colours required.

Sally Lees New Dawn dying aluminium

 Each of the aluminium disks had to be cut out by hand and all the disks had to be cut to size. 100's were required in total and a long time was spent calculating how many of each disk was required for each piece.

Sally Lees -New Dawn jewellery commission aluminium stripsSally Lees New Dawn commission - cutting out aluminium disks

Wire rivets were used to construct the brooch as aluminium and silver cannot be soldered together. The exact positioning of the rivets was very important to ensure the pieces were secured together. The length of the brooch meant I had to ensure that the piece did not bend and that multiple rivets would not be visible. Also the catches on the silver brooch back had to be soldered then the back was riveted with the disks.

Riveting three or four layers of aluminium with wire rivets can be problematic as the pieces can move around and rivets can bend over and damage the aluminium.

The rivets are hammered in with a hammer and had to be filed and sanded then polished off with a high speed pendant drill for a non abrasive surface. The brooch pin was made from steel for strength.

        Sally Lees New Dawn jewellery commission for The Houses of ParliamentSally Lees - New Dawn jewellery commission for The House of Parliament

               The finished brooch and more 'New Dawn' suffragette jewellery is available onlne at and

Mary Branson's New Dawn  Sally Lees New Dawn brooch finished piece in box 


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