Take a Badge Leave a Wish

With the assistance of the laser cutter I am able to produce many iterations of the same design fairly quickly after the beginning stages of ideation and rendering. This ability to make small scale production lines led to the question of what found object I could include. Up to this point each laser cut element was designed to fit a unique found object.

With the idea of producing multiples I needed an object that while maintaining a consistent exterior dimension would be individual from one to the next. I landed on the idea of bottle caps. Each cap is the same size yet unique. Each cap is different with dents from how it was removed, rust spots, and there are hundreds of brands and designs. The bottle cap badges will work as take aways from my show and will reference the pilgrim badges of Medieval societies.

“Pilgrim souvenirs were bought by medieval pilgrims as mementos of the pious journeys they took to visit shrines in England and abroad[1].” The badges themselves were considered to have the ability to protect and heal their owners. “To the medieval mind, the miracle working power of a shrine or relic could be transferred to anything that came into contact with it and so souvenirs associated with the shrine were highly sought after, not just as keepsakes but as secondary relics[2].”

An even more important aspect of taking a pilgrimage was that not only did the pilgrim return with an empowered memento in the form of a badge from their journey but that they would have received indulgences as a result of their trip. “The medieval mind believed absolutely in the reality of heaven and hell, and vivid pictures in churches portrayed the horrors which awaited sinners in purgatory. The practice of pilgrimage and the veneration of the saints, holy relics and shrines, was one of the principal ways to reach salvation, and a place in heaven. Pilgrims were offered indulgences which reduced the amount of time spent in purgatory[3].” A pilgrimage could save an individual from purgatory, while the badge could both protect and heal.

The badges from my show will act as a give and take with the viewer. They can take a badge as a representation of their journey to my show. In turn they will have to leave a wish in its place. Each wish will be written on the wall where the badge was once displayed. Historically pilgrim badges were considered objects of power. My badges will be imbued with each individuals wish and work as a memento or reminder of that wish, hopefully pushing the wearer to accomplish what they wrote down.

[1] “Medieval Pilgrim Souvenirs.” Museum Of London. Accessed February 22, 2015.             collections.museumoflondon.org/uk

[2] “Pewter and Its History, Pilgrim Badges.” Lionheart Historical Peweter Replicas. Accessed February 2, 2015

[3] Lynn Museum. “Medieval Pilgrim Badges.” Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service. Accessed February 2, 2015.

IMG_8943 caps


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