This cute little robin is by the designer/creator Melanie Tomlinson.

Melanie is from Birmingham and trained at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design.  To create her detailed designs Melanie starts by painting the image in gouache, this acts as the master for the printing process.  The design is then hand printed onto metal and cut out.  The metal cut outs are then curved, folded, smoothed into the required shape.  Melanie says –

My brooches are inspired by my passion for nature and the representation of flora and fauna in folklore. Motifs of natural forms appear in Romanian lace patterns which I also draw inspiration from, having travelled within the country many times with my Romanian husband. I begin by painting intricate designs in my sketch book using gouache and a fine brush. I then individually hand print my designs onto sheet tinned steel and then cut, fold, press and sew the various layers together. When finished the metal gleams through the surface decoration adding visual depth to each piece.”

In 2018 Melanie’s solo show ‘Ghost Horses and Guns’ opened at Wolverhampton Art Gallery.  She has worked as a participatory artist for many years, most notably with newly arrived people to the UK and also wildlife charities including the Great Crane Project (RSPB) and Wildlife Trust on projects around conservation and community.

The robin is Britain’s national bird.  Since 1960 when the first vote was done the robin has maintained its place in the British public’s heart, beating off rivals like the barn owl and the blackbird.   Each robin has a unique breast pattern, helping to identify them individually.  They are notoriously territorial and have been known to fight to the death over territory.

The robin’s association with Christmas can be traced back to Queen Victoria’s reign (1837 to 1901). Victorian postmen were nicknamed “robins” because of their red coloured coats.  From there, the robin on the Christmas card came to represent the postman who delivered the card.

Mail Guard’s Frockcoat, made by Herbert & Co London 1875-1882

Even though the Royal Mail had been established as far back as 1516 by Henry VIII, it was not until 1840 that the first stamps appeared in Britain, standardising postal rates throughout the country, the cost being determined by weight rather than distance travelled.  Britain was the first country to issue prepaid postage stamps, so our stamps are the only ones worldwide which do not bear the name of the country of issue.

To all my fellow brooch aficionado’s