Tessa Metcalfe: Pigeon Perfect

Disclaimer: No animals were harmed during the shoot. All of the animals involved have died from natural causes.

There’s something extremely delicate and very raw about Tessa Metcalfe’s jewellery. Gold and silver pigeon claws adorn the young designer’s fingers, each one distinctly different from the other. Some clasp onto precious jewels while others are embellished with miniature rings of their own. Each one has it’s own story.

Born in Hackney, East London, Metcalfe grew up in a metropolis where the only wildlife present was pigeons. Commonly referred to as “rats with wings” the often, hated birds, captured the young Tessa’s fascination.  

Her exposure to dead animals, her father frequently collected road kill, gave her the opportunity to study pigeons more closely and she experimented with taxidermy in an attempt to capture the bird’s overlooked beauty.

After her experience with taxidermy, Tessa Metcalfe got the idea of making jewellery out of the pigeon feet. She then learned how to cast, and that was the beginning of what is now a successful jewellery brand, that is being worn by celebrities like Rita Ora and Pixie Lott.   

Harriet Vine looks back on 15 years of the jewellery brand and her bond with Rosie Wolfenden


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