Other - Grimm Pins

a three volume series of anodized aluminum pins
based upon Grimm's Fairy Tales


Using themes from Grimm's Fairy Tales, I have attempted to merge my artistic skills and psychological background to create a series of nearly five dozen unique and captivating pins.

Meticulously fabricated from brightly colored anodized aluminum, these pins attempt to present imagery that is familiar, yet open to personal interpretation.

I have arranged the pins in three separate presentation cases suitable for either wall or table-top display. Each of the cases also includes a separate hand-bound miniature book (which is also a pin) that presents the name of each story upon which the pins are based.


Although Grimm's Fairy Tales are some of the most beloved stories in the Western world, their publication in 1812 caused quite a stir. Unlike their contemporaries who heavily edited folk tales before publishing them, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm interviewed hundreds of individuals, meticulously recorded the stories they were told, and published the tales with only minimal modification.

This unique approach to preserving folklore ushered in a new era of ethnography. Anthropologists began to realize that the stories of the peoples they studied often shared similar themes. Whether they are myths that attempt to explain the origins of everyday occurrences, legends that recount past events, fables designed to teach a lesson, or tales told simply for entertainment, the stories from cultures around the world are amazingly similar.

In fact, most of the stories collected by the Grimm brothers originated in exotic locations far from Germany. For example, the Panchatantra, written between the third and fifth century in India, shares many thematic elements with Grimm's Fairy Tales. That is why Western readers of this classic series of morality tales are not surprised when they encounter an ornery monkey, a fool-hearty son, or a gold-giving snake.

Just like people, stories often migrate to new lands. And when they find a new home, they must assimilate into their new culture and change to fit local traditions. For example, in today's politically correct environment, it is simply deemed inappropriate for Little Red Cap to be swallowed and have the woodsman slash open the wolf's belly. Instead, she must be rescued by a big strong man before the dastardly deed is ever initiated.

But just as various cultures take a story and modify it to make it their own, individuals are continually reinterpreting their environment to fit their own personality. Psychologists use this phenomenon to help gain a better understanding of a client's character. Because people tend to project their own thoughts, fears, and desires onto ambiguous stimuli, psychologists have developed measures such as the Rorschach and Thematic Apperception Test. These projective tests are designed to help psychologists discover the themes that are important in an individual's life.

Given the tendency for both cultures and individuals to continually modify the stories they tell, it seems fitting to use Grimm's Fairy Tales as a series of projective stimuli. Each of the pins in this collection is based upon one of Grimm's famous stories. Although the accompanying miniature book (which is also a pin) provides the title of the story each piece was based upon, the pins are best viewed without knowing their names. In this way, both the wearer and the viewer become free to project their thoughts and interpret the jewelry in a way that reflects their own personality.


I spent several months reading an early translation of Grimm's Fairy Tales. I read the stories mostly in bed, late at night. Whenever I read a passage that created an interesting mental image, I made a quick sketch on my hand-held organizer. Later, I transferred the sketches to my computer and created a careful schematic of how the pin would be assembled.

After printing the patterns, I temporarily glued them onto sheets of anodized aluminum and used a jeweler's saw to cut out the component pieces. Unlike some other artists who work with aluminum, I did not use silicone or epoxy to attach the layers together. Instead, I sandwiched the pieces and used miniature brass screws as both a means to hold them together and as design elements.

The average size of the pins is about one and one-half inches square. They have either a three-quarter or one-inch pin clasp attached to the back using aluminum tube rivets.


The twentieth pin in each case is a hand-crafted miniature book. To create these tiny volumes, I used cloth, end papers, and cardboard salvaged from vintage books. Following the title page, each page of the book presents the title of one of Grimm's Fairy Tales. The book's page numbers correspond to a numbered pin in the case. Thus, the book serves as an index to the name of the stories upon which the pin's designs were based.


Each of the three cases that hold the pins in this series are twelve inches tall, eighteen inches wide, and two inches deep. They are constructed out of select walnut wood and have dowel rod reinforced corners. Each case has two brass hinges and locks (with keys included). The lid of the case securely holds a pane of double-strength glass.

Inside each case is a black fabric lined foam liner into which the pin backs are inserted. Partially glued into the case, this foam may be lifted to reveal mounting holes. Therefore, the cases can be attractively displayed on either a wall or a tabletop. The back of the cases have clear rubber bumpers to protect the surface on which they rest.

Please note: because taking a photograph of the cases with their black fabric lining and shiny glass is nearly impossible, the images of the pins in their cases (see below) is simulated, yet designed to give an accurate depiction of the actual product.

Click on any of the individual items below to see an enlarged view of each actual pin.

Volume I

Volume II

Volume III