making pretty things

what have you made today?

a blog about making, creating, being inspired, inspiring


Claire’s wedding


Last summer I was honoured to be bridesmaid at my friend Claire’s wedding. It was a gorgeous setting in Somerset with lots of lovely food and fun activities planned for the guests over the whole weekend. After a fairly disastrous journey down thanks to a plumbing emergency and awful traffic, we finally made it down with Claire’s precious tiara in hand! It was inspired by her gorgeous gold floral engagement ring.


Photo by Robert Wheatman photography


A few more bits and pieces

This is a really simple little haircomb I made with an assortment of vintage green glass beads. I just love their rich colours – good enough to eat! They have been sitting like little jewels in my craft box for a long time so I decided it was time to show them off when I was bridesmaid at my friend’s wedding. More on that wedding to come!


Caroline’s hairband


My dear friends Caroline and Alan were married at the beautiful Ripley Castle in Yorkshire this summer. It was an unseasonably rainy day, but the castle and grounds looked spectacular as strong rays of sun burst through the rainclouds and the rain showers added to the intimate and special atmosphere inside. We were very touched to take part in their wedding and Caroline asked me to make her a side hairband with a delicate floral spray to go with her lace fishtail dress. She looked beautiful and elegant, as I knew she would!

First two photos by Lizzy Bell Photography

Here is a close up showing the AB crystals and pearls.

This really is one of my favourite hair accessories I have made so far as it is so elegant and unusual.

And finally, I had to show you their sweet little wish tree, with lovely message hung on it from their guests!


More crystals

and here is another tiara I made recently


Wedding tiara

‘I can probably make most things but I would find a tiara quite difficult’ I said to my bride-to-be friend when I offered to make her a wedding hairpiece.  A tiara is what she wanted though, so the challenge was set!

Steph laughing

beautiful bride – Christian Ward photography

So I googled countless tiara tutorials, cut out photos from bridal magazines, experimented with wire of several different gauges, twisted beads and pearls into the wire, rejected them, cut them out and started again (to save the nice beads!) and then I finally got there.

I incorporated lace from the bride’s gorgeous wedding dress by cutting out the flower shapes from the lace and sewing them onto the tiara at the end.

Like everything I make, I was rather sad to let it go but delighted when I saw how wonderful she looked on her wedding day!

I personally don’t like the pre-made tiara bases as I find them un-malleable so you can’t shape them to the desired shape and often the metal looks quite cheap and sharp-edged.  I recommend 8mm gauge silver-plated wire for the tiara base, formed into not-quite-a semicirle (depending on how far round you want the tiara to go). I then used a combination of 4mm and 2mm gauge silver-plated wire to make the ‘stems’ on which the beads are twisted.  When I had positioned all the stems on, I twisted 2mm wire round the whole base to cover up the stem ends and neaten it off. Depending on how the bride wants to wear it, the stems can be gently pushed up straight, flattened back, twisted and so on.

Photos of the bride by the talented Christian Ward

pretty paper

I have a slight obsession with stationery and prints. I drool helplessly in French supermarket ‘back to school’ aisles where lucky schoolchildren, at the end of the summer holidays with their school list in hand, get to go and buy new school diaries, fountain pens and cahier after cahier filled with pages lined in every imaginable way.  I still have card and writing paper samples that I carefully stored away when I was 8.  It will never be used. It’s just to look at and be inspired – even more so now that emails and blogs have superceded good old-fashioned letter writing. Which is why I write and send cards at any opportunity I can get. I now have too many framed prints to put up on my walls… clearly, a bigger house is needed to accommodate my print fixation.  The one which has pride of place is ‘The Iceberg’ from Tugboat Printshop‘s Deep Blue Sea collection.  I love that only 100 exist in the world.

So of course, I had to go on a course yesterday at Oak Studios in Hampstead run by Eleanor of Marby & Elm Store . This 2 hour course was an introduction to letterpress printing and we all got to make our own cards using the available type and an Adana press. It’s much more satisfying than rubber stamping because of the embossed effect you get from the press.

Here is what I made:

During my art foundation, one of our electives was print-making. I’m not sure what I would have done if I had not got onto that elective – probably thrown a big tantrum in the middle of the library.  Fortunately, I did get a place so I had already done a bit of lettepress using a vintage behemoth that took hours to set up and clean – yesterday’s press was much more user-friendly and used the same inks that I use for rubber stamping. In just over 2 hours, we were all able to prepare and print 2 sets of stationery.

During that electove I was also able to have a go at screenprinting and copper etching.  I love the process of print-making and the satisfaction, once you have put in the preparation time, of being able to run off print after print on thick cardstock, beautifully coloured and embossed.  My prints are technically pretty amateur, but I’ve still got them up on my walls.  One of my favourites, which is more decorative than arty, is one that I made after playing around with an old Indian woodblock print of the type which would have been used to do repeat prints on sari materials.  I had been given this as a gift so I brought it along to the studio, inked it up, put lots of padding underneath my card and printed away. Later, I worked into some of my prints with ink and beads – yep, my old favourite of sewing on paper again.

Other paper pretties that I like are:

Rob Ryan‘s papercuts especially this one (and I like this too, even though it is not technically paper)

Book Art and Book Sculpture (this type of thing is what I was inspired by for our wedding invitations

artists’ books

and origami!

Crafting for a cause

Can crafting help raise awareness of causes?  On London Southbank a few years ago, I came across the incredible Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef , which included a Toxic Reef made of wool and the plastic materials we so easily discard.

Yup, those ARE tampons. Well, hey, they end up flushed into the sea, don’t they?

What about the Plastiki, sailing through the great pacific garbage patch?  The making process gives crafters an inherent sense of materials, waste and production: we know the cost and the time it takes, we understand the qualities of different materials and we re-use them to economise.