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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Making a carved wooden brooch with a celtic design, to be worn as a kiltpin

A kiltpin is traditionally worn pinned to one corner of the front of a kilt. It's not supposed to go through both of the layers of material underneath, as this would make the kilt move badly and could possibly damage the material. Instead it is more of a decoration on the kilt's apron (the flat, unpleated part worn to the front).

The origin of wearing a kiltpin is thought to go back to Queen Victoria using a hat pin to secure her kilted skirt on a windy day. I had made a sgian dubh (the knife carried in one's sock -called the 'hose'- with a kilt) and wanted to make a matching kiltpin to go with it. Obviously, it had to be carved too!


The kiltpin is 50mm (2") in diameter. The yellowish wood is box (Buxus sempervirens) wood, which I picked up whilst out walking in Gloucestershire. Box is a native tree in Britain and a traditional use for the timber is in wood engraving plates. It was the ideal wood for the kiltpin as it is very tough but carves well and can take a good finish. You can see the piece of found wood with the sanded start of the kiltpin in this picture:


It is inlaid with laburnum from the garden of the house that I grew up in - the same wood used to make the handle and sheath of the sgian dubh. Apparently my father would hang a hammock from this tree for my mother to rest in when she was pregnant with me.

There are also three pieces of solid silver inlay and the central setting is a piece of microgranite that originally came from Ailsa Craig. This interesting stone is also set into the end of the sgian dubh and you can read more about it here.

The boxwood was sanded to shape to begin with. The stone to go in the centre was then ground to shape with diamond burrs and polished.


Once the position of the stone setting was known, marked and hollowed out then the rest of the design could be drawn on with a pencil...


... before being carefully carved using my Opinel lock knife. No tricks for that part of the process, just a lot of practice and a sharp blade! The holes for the silver inlay were drilled and then the stone and silver were fixed in with two-part epoxy.


The pin on the back was fixed on using epoxy and three small brass rivets to give extra security.


Here's the kiltpin with the sgian dubh. If you are interested, I would consider commissions to make similar ones. Now I'm looking forward to seeing the knife and pin being worn with the kilt!

sgian dubh and kiltpin


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