:: Article

Rosette Manufacture: A Catalogue and Spotters’ Guide

#GE2015 fiction by Eley Williams.


(art by Salvador Dalí)

A rosette is the – often ribboned – badge worn by a candidate to indicate political affiliation. Rosettes are manufactured according to party colours, and many feature the name of the party or the party’s logo at their centre.

Traditionally rosettes do have a colour and are phenomenal rather than noumenal decorations. This is on account of the pin. The pin is the thing. Without a pin, a rosette might look like a wreath, which would be ridiculous.

All our rosettes are handmade and we pride ourselves on the fact that they are all sewn up and not glued. This ensures that all our rosettes are made to the highest possible quality. The silent stink of our pins can push right through a lapel if the correct force is applied: through a shirt-front, on through some taut softness beyond that and, in this way, the pin can ink straight into the heart and a rosette may enter the  bloodstream to reach the lining of the gut and its thornless little flora, the nerve of it, the body, all the way to the top of the head, the index finger and the thumb and all the silly muscles it takes to hold a pencil etc. We have also supplied international dog show rosettes (specifically rosettes to all-breed championship dog shows, agility dog shows, obedience dog shows) as well as bird show rosettes, gymkhana rosettes, dressage rosettes, riding club rosettes and pony club rosettes.

Rosettes, skeuomorphs of diminutive roses, rely on pricking. Let’s say we make the rosettes in a garden. We have to be careful harvesting in case they prick us so use one of those swinging blades. ‘Scythe’ always sounds rather negative and aggressive. Sweeping the nation, the garden. Using only high quality woven-edged polyester ribbon, we can paint rosettes in a garden made for lovers and dead-heading, or paint them in other gardens while singing in a Looking-glass, some yellow flamingo-canaries bent into croquet mallets in the background. There are crooked blue trees sometimes in the garden: we tend the trees so we can manufacture paper(s) as a sidebusiness. We tend to the trees, feed them bone-meal. There are little grey columns in the garden for tasteful, obscure landscaping reasons, and there is a bright yellow and purple puddled heap in the garden that we think was the result of too much Berocca® and beetroot the night before: someone should have cleaned that up, sorry. On a screen in the garden, men are joking about hats and a woman is pasting a honeycomb pattern on something that looks like a crumbling spine. Look at that instead. Let’s put a pin in it.

In gardens and for those who invest in horticulture, the word ‘rosette’ means a circular arrangement of leaves whereby all the leaves appear at a similar height. Things can be deceiving. There is craft in rosetterie. ‘Often, rosettes form in perennial plants whose upper foliage dies back with the remaining vegetation protecting the plant […]Part of the protective function of a rosette like the dandelion is that it is hard to pull from the ground; the leaves come away easily while the taproot is left intact.’ A ‘rosette’ is also a marking – a distastefully ribbonless, nonhandmade blotch really – that is found on the fur of some animals. These animals do not appear in obedience dog shows nor gymkhanas, and include jaguars, leopards and some lion/tiger hybrids. These rosettes do not change, idiomatically. One can read that these rosettes exist ‘either as a defence mechanism or as a stalking tool. Predators use their rosettes to simulate the different shifting of shadows and shade, helping the animals to remain hidden from their prey.’ Flush the jaguars from your garden and buy your rosettes in bulk in trusty polyester!

The pricking is the thing. The pinning down is the thing. Rosettes are corsages pinned down rather than exchanged as a handshake might be cf. smiles, sighs, horror or other lapel-less things. The act of pinning down is crucial. We’ll ride in on your tails, we’ll pluck at your sleeve, we’ll buttonhole you with our jaguar breath.

When pinning down, don’t worry about the fabric.

Traditionally one opens a pin with the parts of the hand used to hold a pencil.

Sometimes, and not even in high winds, the plastic ribbons depending from a rosette might overlap and make it look fleetingly as if a cross or a wavelength or a gene or many other lapel-less things has appeared.

At the polling station, only the candidates and their agents may wear a rosette. The Electoral Commission doesn’t specify rosette dimensions, but 2008 guidelines do set out a maximum width of ‘three to four inches’. There is little comment on length. Endless rosettes. Longer than a tongue. Rosettes can be a choking hazard. Often ribboned, their edges can be ruffled and folding in on itself like a Viennetta or something collapsing or the circular folds (cf. valves of Kerckring, plicae circulares, valvulae conniventes) of those large valvular flaps that project into the lumen of the small intestine. Gutlessness and gutsiness! Rosettes for all and whoops all around!

We will never resign nor leave you. We will go on making our false flowers for non-lovers, with the jaguars and monsters, in the garden, in the shade.


A former recipient of the Christopher Tower poetry prize, Eley Williams has had work printed in The White ReviewAmbit and Night and Day journals and has a chapbook ‘Sketch’ available from Annexe. She has twice been shortlisted for The White Review Story Prize, and she is currently a Visiting Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, May 8th, 2015.