Sidebar Sidebar Sidebar
Poppies for Remembrance: A Tradition of Gratitude

Poppies for Remembrance: A Tradition of Gratitude

Posted by Danforth Pewter on May 11th 2023

In 1919, as the First World War came to its long-awaited end, a tradition emerged in the U.K. and Canada: families of armed forces began wearing poppies in their lapels, as a way to honor their loved ones' service. November 11, originally named Armistice Day to mark it as the day the war ended, took on other names, depending where you were in the world: Remembrance Day or Poppy Day in the United Kingdom and Canada; Veterans' Day in the United States. In the century that's followed, the tradition of wearing poppies has expanded to honor and thank those brave souls who have served in all wars, not just World War One.

Why poppies? you may wonder.

Poppies were known for "popping" up on the battlefields of World War Two in the north of France after combat. Nitrogen from the explosives, plus the agitated earth jostling seeds around, led to fertile ground for these bright red flowers, which are known for their surprise appearances in unexpected places. The deep red of poppy petals was a striking sight in a field where so much bloodshed had just occurred. Soldiers began sending pressed poppies from the battlefields home to loved ones, making them a welcome symbol of survival and hope.

Danforth's Remembrance Poppy designs hold deep meaning for many people, who wear them and gift them year-round. With that in mind, and with Memorial Day around the corner, we thought we'd tell the story of how these designs came to be.

The topic of making poppies surfaced around 2016, when Sarah Dunn, our then-marketing director, approached Tim Copeland, our lead designer. She wanted Danforth to do something to honor veterans, and Remembrance Poppies seemed like a meaningful way to do that.

"They're also one of my favorite flowers," she said. "I love how they just pop up in my yard between patio stones. It’s like memories popping up!"

So Tim agreed, and got to work on the design.

While we have a long history of making flower ornaments and keyrings, making a poppy posed a bit of a challenge. Poppy petals are so light and airy, while pewter can look quite heavy and thick.

Another quality of pewter is that it's extremely versatile. For any design challenge, there are myriad possible solutions when you have talented designers and research and development team members.

"I knew that the red epoxy had to cover the entire piece, all the way out to the edges, and it had to be a vibrant red," said Tim. "I ended up making the back of the piece curve slightly around the edges, so you don't see much pewter, and it cradles the epoxy, making the color nice and rich. The edges are thin, giving it a more delicate, true to life detail."

One issue solved. There was also the challenge of adding fine striations to the petals, giving it that realistic, highly detailed look.

Tim cut the general shape of the Poppy on our CNC mill, and then spent hours hand-carving dozens of lines to each petal in wax. "I do that with many of our nature-themed products," he said, "because sometimes, when carving with the mill, it can look a little too 'perfect.' We want a more natural, organic look, so it often requires many hours of work by hand.

That hybrid technique is a key part of many Danforth designs, and it was especially important in the creation of the Route 100 lamp, which is especially intricate. Even after making the initial design CAD and cutting it on the mill, the model wasn't done until Tim added wax and made hundreds of small, short strokes in the tree foliage and grass to make them look, well, more like tree foliage and grass. He also used wax to add more texture to the clouds by hand, making them softer and puffier.

In 2016, we launched the Remembrance Poppy as an ornament. It looked beautiful, and customers were happy with them, so almost right away we decided to release it as a lapel pin and brooch, since poppies are traditionally worn that way.

In the process of recreating the poppy as a smaller model, we saw that it would make a lovely charm—and so was born product #3. That led naturally to making the necklace and both stud and dangling earrings, followed by a zipper pull, and then finally the keyring and magnet. (We were especially glad to release the keyring, because that, like the ornament, can be personalized with an engraving, which we know makes it extra special for many people.)

As Tim put it, "It found its way into so many product categories because it just worked that way. It worked from a design perspective, and it also seems to speak to people, which is how we know we've found a really great design."A collection of remembrance poppy themed jewelry

Today, Remembrance Poppies are one of our most popular and meaningful designs. We know that they represent something deeply important to many people in our communities, from our customers to our employees, and we want to show our gratitude and respect for those who have made our precious freedom possible.

"I purchased seven of the poppy ornaments for Christmas gifts to my siblings to signify our father's service in World War Two and to celebrate our family name. The ornaments are high quality and will be a yearly reminder of our connections." –Linda

Thank you to all who have served.

To browse all our Remembrance Poppy designs, click here.