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Eye Love You Brooches

I’ve always been obsessed with 19th-century lover’s eye jewelry. These were small porcelain brooches, painted with eyes, that were given as tokens of love by the wealthy classes. The eye subjects were either the giver or receiver, but I have seen some with the eyes of popular paintings of the day. Eye brooches began to lose their popularity around the time of photography, but their charm has never dwindled for me.

four images of eye brooches from the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Photos: courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Not having the time to invest in firing my own ceramics, forging my own findings, or learning to paint like the old Dutch masters, I’ve devised a far less stressful method of creating my own eye jewelry.

Choose your eyes

Close-up of David Johnston, painted by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon in 1808. Photo: National Gallery of Art.

First, you’ll need some images of eyes. I found mine by way of the National Gallery of Art. The museum has hundreds of images of paintings in the public domain, and the downloads are high quality. Once you’ve found your eyes, you will need to size them in a photo-editing app. There are a few free versions online, but I use Photoshop.

You can make these any size, but be conscious of the image as it relates to your finished piece, and be sure to leave plenty of the artwork’s image around the eye so you don’t get any blank spaces in the finished product. I prefer adding several images to one 8 1/2-by-11-inch page to maximize printing space.

Images of paintings like these, which are in the public domain and available through the National Gallery of Art, can be downloaded for your eye jewelry project.

Print the images on photo printing fabric. I prefer Crafter’s Images Photo Paper…

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