Dave Brill’s brilliant origami horse

“Did you really make that from a piece of paper?”

Is something commonly asked of artist Dave Brill. Especially related to his famous origami horse. Nestled away in the Cheshire countryside, Dave was kind enough tell us the story about what led to him creating the origami masterpiece.

Martha Jackson’s very own origami horse necklace was
inspired by this ground-breaking work of art, so therefore we were keen to get the scoop.

Dave Brill’s brilliant origami horse.

A childhood hand-me-down led to a lifelong passion.

Who would’ve thought that when Dave’s older siblings handed down a dog-eared 1946 Rupert Bear Annual, it would lead to Dave becoming one of the worlds leading origami folders and creators? Certainly not Dave when his childlike hands mimicked a very simple origami pattern.

Dave was fascinated from the moment he created his first origami flapping bird. He quickly discovered mischievous creations such as Japanese water balloons (aka water bombs!). Like many joyful pursuits of childhood origami was forgotten in the teenage years.

A passion re-discovered on the road.

As an adult working for a major UK bank, Dave travelled the UK. He was often in remote places. Alone and bored in the evenings. His interest in an old Robert Harbin origami book was renewed whilst in a remote hotel.

Simple origami creations inspired by a vintage Robert Harbin book.

Brill started simple and began to make more complex creations. His ability soon out-grew the books so he wrote to Japanese publishers to see what else he could find.

A gift that is passed down.

In Japan origami is passed down between mother and child. Due to the necessary simplicity, many traditional origami shapes or patterns didn’t evolve. Through new contacts, Dave discovered a network of origami fans and creators. The fans were sharing their origami and letters to each other.

Through letter-swapping, Dave joined (and eventually lead) the British Origami Society. Origami conventions became a permanent fixture in his diary. Conventions introduced Dave to origami artists who were making their own designs. This was a watershed moment.

A square of paper can be mind-blowing.

A young man in his 20’s, Dave was amazed at the complex animals and insects that could be achieved with a piece of paper. Folding the corners to the centre (in origami language this is the blintz – originating from the word blini) was a huge revelation. The potential was suddenly doubled by
creating eight corners rather than the standard four.

Experimenting with the blintz lead to elephants, flapping birds, and ultimately the horse.

Meeting a ‘couple of guys at a convention’ opened Dave’s eyes.

The artist met more origami artists at an event in the 1970’s. One event lead Dave to meet a man who pre-mapped and pre-determined his folds before he began to make a piece.

After spending years developing through chance, Dave realised it would be more satisfying to have a pre-determined aim. This idea altered Dave’s mindset. He set his sights on bold outcomes. He began to apply logic to creativity.

About the horse.

The evolution of the horse came about in the 1970’s. Dave was experimenting with the blintz. His objects were getting more complex than he previously thought was possible. He was learning with every fold.

Traditional forms of origami were being broken down. New geometries were revealed which resulted in new outcomes. Previously the same folds were being used by many people. This meant that similar shapes were occurring. Even if the end result was a different animal. The underlying shapes and structures were the always the same. Dave started to transcend this.

A TV program featuring kangaroos in the wild and bounding through open space intrigued Brill. Dave’s curiosity and ambition came to a crunch-point. He wanted to capture this fleeting and bouncing movement.

The process started with a different shape, but the resulting kangaroo was too thick. The folds of paper weren’t efficient. The aim of an origami artist is to use folds and layers economically. Experiments with equilateral triangles (rather than the standard squares) were carried out. Yet this wasn’t an origami purist’s approach. Yet it delivered an elegant result.

Experiments opened up avenues to explore. The first iteration of the horse had a bowed neck. It’s been optimised over the years. The first time Dave created an acceptable horse was particularly thrilling – this is the horse he will remember.

The is known as the ‘Iconic Origami Horse’ amongst other origami enthusiasts and artists. It’s Dave’s trademark.

It isn’t as easy as you think it is.

Part of the fun with origami is overcoming the hurdles. As with everything in life, it’s more satisfying to set your sights on an object and struggle before you succeed. Origami is an extraordinary world where the raw material in its simplest form can only be manipulated through folding.

Artist Dave Brill with some of his creations.

Minds like Dave’s explore every way to achieve something complex; an insect with antennae or an octopus without cutting. The Japanese word origami means folding paper. And many origami artists find the joy in the journey of folding, rather than the finished piece.

Not just folding paper though, it’s a way of life.

Dave met his wife through origami. He has travelled the world. He has even authored a book. Deep friendships have been made and forged across vast oceans.

“It was a thrill, of course it was. I’d write a fan letter to a famous origami artist and include the envelope a piece of origami inspired by their work. Back then, the polite thing to do was to reply with a physical piece of art, origami. And this was thrilling.”

An artform easily accessible from daily disposables.

The instant attraction for Dave is that he can put his hand out, and there is a piece of paper from which anything can be created. A direct mail through or unwanted bill can be whatever a mind determines it to be.

Are you inspired by Dave Brill’s story? Here’s his website where you can learn more:

We have our very own origami horse, inspired by Dave’s Iconic horse. Our origami horse is made from recycled sterling silver and can be found here.

And here are Dave’s 5 tips for origami:

  1. Start your journey studying books by respected authors such as Michael LaFosse, Tomoko Fuse, or Kunihiko Kasahara. Alternatively, fold from YouTube tutorials by Sara Adams or Jo Nakajima.
  2. Experiment with all types of everyday paper you can find, as well as commercially available origami papers.
  3. Enjoy the folding process as much as the finished product
  4. Explore the many branches of origami: traditional, animals and living creatures, geometric form and unit or modular origami, tessellations,
  5. Join a group or a society, such as the British Origami Society or Origami USA


How to Stack Your Way

We are obsessed with the layered necklace trend here at Martha Jackson. More is definitely more when it comes to the neck-stack. The devil is in the details though – you want impact, you also want to keep it classy. And we’ve got you covered with pieces that you’ll want to RSVP to your neck party.

You’re invited to the stylish neck party.

3 Ways to stack like a pro

1. Make it Personal: Add a keepsake piece such as an engravable locket with add-ons for a truly personalised stack. Our round filigree locket keeps this look classy with it’s vintage vibes.

A truly personal layered necklace look.

 2. Pick A Theme: For curated neck perfection, it’s great to design the layers around a theme. This celestial neck party features star pendants in different sizes and with different textures. The result is a playful yet consistent look. We are star-struck by the celestial theme below that features our sterling silver star necklaces.

An out-of-this world neck-stack.

 3. Tell your story: Souvenir style pendants that tell a story about where you’ve been or personal taste give the layered look authenticity. This coin necklace has a real heirloom feel.

Souvenir style and heirloom pendants give an authentic aesthetic.

The real key to layering is to do it your way, play around or even cheat a little. We are totally here for mixing metals with this look. Repeat after us: more is more.


How to mix gold & Silver Jewellery

Be a clash queen: silver and gold always deliver.

Can you mix gold and silver jewellery? You can do whatever you damn-well want.

It wasn’t so many years ago that fashion goals were all about matching: shoes, handbags, nails, phones, to lipsticks… and so on.

But the times, they have a-changed. And now variety, asymmetry and inconsistency are celebrated in fashion. We are so on board.

Layering and stacking is where it’s at RN and mixing metals is key to adding playful texture to your stack.

Can I mix it? Yes you can!


One of our favourite examples of boycotting the ‘old rules’ of style, is the mixed metals trend. And as Vogue is celebrating new beginnings this Autumn, it’s the perfect time to experiment with our looks.  No longer do we have to wave a ‘team gold’ or ‘camp silver’ flag – we can wear it all. It’s 2021, and you can style jewellery any way you want.


1. Start with a ready-mixed piece

Then just add another accessory of your choosing to tie it all together.

All available on our website.

2. The bracelet and watch combo

Not only is this the easiest way to transition to mixed metal – slinging a delicate silver bangle next to a chunky gold watch is seriously on-point.

3. Stack it high or go home

When in doubt, add more is the key here. And this applies to wrists, necks and ears. The beauty of this look is that you may have a vintage souvenir piece that can be transformed into a high fashun look when paired with other chains. If you want stacking inspo, check out our Stack Your Way guide.

4. Wear it like you mean it

The bolder, the better – make it look intentional.

Clash-ready mixed metal Jewellery:


Why our new collection is causing a stir

Our new collection – The Art of Pavé – is causing a bit of a stir in MJ circles. One of our most popular launches to date, you all seem to be loving our new addition. Why so popular? Well let us tell you a bit more about it.


Pavé (pronounced pah-vay) is – perhaps unsurprisingly – the French word for ‘paved’ or ‘cobblestone’. And what we’re talking about here, is a gorgeous paving of cubic zirconia, squeezed together so tightly that it has to done under a microscope. Wowzers.

What we end up with is a piece that shimmers and shines in any light, without looking tacky or cheap.

Vintage charm

Pave was a real hit in the 1940s – but back then they used diamond chips. We have the Swiss watch companies to thank for the more sophisticated paving we see today – they pioneered the techniques used to create this amazing collection.

All of the pieces in our range are made from real silver, but we’ve plated them in different colours to accent the shimmering effect. We have 24k gold, rose gold or rhodium on offer – which takes your fancy?

We’ve included some of our awesome on-trend earring styles in the range, with threaders, ear jackets and climbers all making an appearance.

These pieces are so wearable. Precious and impressive without being OTT – it’s no wonder you lot are snapping them up. Get yours here.


Three super wearable jewellery trends

Jewellery trends come and go, but at Martha Jackson, we like to bring you on-trend pieces with a classic twist – pieces that will stand the test of time. So, here’s three of our favourite jewellery trends and how to wear them the MJ way:

1. Minimalist

‘Naked’ jewellery is certainly having a moment. Gone are the days of oversized, embellished bibs – now it’s all about delicacy. These ‘barely there’ styles are flattering for all and make a gorgeous, subtle statement. And given they’re so inexpensive, quality is key – don’t settle for pieces that will turn your ears green.

2. Ear cuffs & climbers

Edgy but tasteful – fake multiple piercings with these ingenious styles. Team them with a simple LBD for a perfect fusion of classic and current. 

3. Pearl

Timeless, but never boring – pearls are back on the catwalk. Update your style and push traditional boundaries with these fresh ways of wearing the gem. 

Show us how you wear MJ by tagging us on Instagram (@marthajacksonjewellery).


The MJ Summer Lookbook

If you can’t yet feel the hum of summer, our new lookbook should put you in the spirit.


How to turn a simple gift into a cherished keepsake

Naturally, we’re very proud of our range of sterling silver jewellery here at MJ HQ, but we do realise that sometimes you want to go the extra mile and turn an everyday gift into something that will be kept and treasured forever.

Well, there’s one easy way to make sure that happens: make it personal. And luckily for you, here at MJ we have dozens of personalisation options.

So here’s how to create the perfect sentimental gift in 5 easy steps: 

1. Pick a locket

Our lockets range in size and style – there really is something for everyone. But here’s one of our favourites:

2. Add a letter

With matte, shiny, silver and gold options, adding their initial (or the initial of someone special to them) will certainly give your gift that all important personal touch.

 3. Add a charm

Are they a yogi? A free spirit? The key to your heart? A born explorer? We have a charm for every quirk. Here’s our faves:

 4. Engrave a message

Here’s where it gets really special. For only £5, we can engrave a message of your choosing, up to [insert number] of characters. An almost guaranteed tear jerker, here’s one of the messages we’ve engraved:

5. Add your own photo

And of course, what are lockets for if not to store a beloved photo of family or friends?

So, there we have it. Click here to start creating your own special gift – we can’t wait to see what you come up with!


Our Ultimate Top 5 Best Sellers

Here at Martha Jackson, there’s certain items we see flying off the shelves time and time again. We’ve rounded up five of the favourites for you to feast your eyes on:

1. Sterling Silver Secret Message Ring – £20

Bang at the top of our list is our sterling silver secret message ring. With an option to add your own secret text inside the ring, it’s easy to see why these have been such a hit. 

2. Mixed Metal Spinning Hearts Ring – £35

Our spinning rings caused quite a stir when they first launched in 2015. And this particular number has remained at the top of our best sellers list. You guys seem to love wearing these as thumb rings and finger toppers!

3. Silver Vintage Heart Locket – £37

 The perfect gift? You guys seem to think so. The vintage charm of this locket and the many ways that it can be personalised, has sent it soaring into our top five. 

4. Sterling Silver Angel Wings Earrings – £18

When you combine trendy with a symbol of love and protection, a best seller is born. These earrings have been selling like hot cakes since day one.

5. Sterling Silver Star Ear Crawlers – £24

One of our newest additions, these trendy ear crawlers have quickly moved their way up to a top spot on our list of best sellers. 

So, there we have it. That’s the lot. Which is your favourite? Fancy any of these for yourself? Or perhaps there’s a birthday or special occasion coming up that these would be perfect for? Let us know in the comments!


Why our Spitfire cufflinks took three years to make

There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding our new Spitfire cufflinks. Why? Because they’re made from the engine of a real Spitfire that defended our country in the Battle of Britain. Wow.

These cufflinks have been lovingly made over three long years from the Rolls Royce Merlin engine of an MK1 Spitfire. Impressed yet? Wait, there’s more…

This Spitfire was the 12th ever made and it defended our little country on a daily basis in 1940, when the Germans repeatedly tried to bomb the UK. That’s right, this plane was a bit of a hero.

We used 3D printing technology to make exact miniature replicas of the MK1 Spitfire – probably one of the most iconic, recognisable pieces of British engineering – and double cast them with sterling silver fittings to make them extra special for you guys. You can also have your initials engraved in the bottom.

In these uncertain times, our Spitfire cufflinks certainly make us proud to be British. These are an ideal gift for military or ex military servicemen.

Given the uniqueness of these cufflinks, they are limited to just a few hundred pairs. Get yours here.


How to make the perfect cluster necklace

It’s no secret that there has been a surge of popularity for charm bracelets over the past couple of years. But why?

Well, that’s because every charm bracelet is unique, personalised and holds sentimental value.

But everyone has a charm bracelet, right? So why not try something different? Cluster necklaces are a wonderful way to express yourself and Martha Jackson will shortly be launching a beautiful range of necklace add-ons, allowing you to create your own spectacular, personalised design.

Here’s a guide to putting them together:

Pick a statement piece

This is the foundation of your cluster necklace. The piece that best represents who you are.

Add a charm or two

Adding a charm is a great way to symbolise an important life event. Perhaps a pair of wings to represent your new found freedom? Or a letter to represent the birth of your first child?

Add a real pearl

Set off your cluster with a real pearl. We have a beautiful selection of real add-on pearls coming your way very soon.

Or shop our ready-made selection

And of course, there’s always the option to shop our ready-made selection of gorgeous cluster necklaces? Click here to shop.

Keep an eye on – our selection of add-ons will be launched very soon!