I have been an independent dressmaker for over 30 years, and first made wedding dresses for family and friends. Studying the history of fashion sparked my interest in the elegance and style of well designed clothing, and I endeavour to create unique, bespoke dresses which are individually tailored to each client. I also enjoy experimenting with varying techniques and have included elements of embroidery or hand-painted silk into some of my designs.
My jewellery making also began as a way of giving original presents but has developed to the stage where I now sell through several regional shops and galleries. My pieces are inspired by the landscape and coast of North East Essex where I am based. As my designs developed I began to search for more unusual beads; I researched lampwork glass bead making and now make all my own glass beads in my workshop.
The process of making your bespoke wedding dress begins with a free consultation to discuss the style of the dress and the look you aim to achieve with your outfit. If you have ideas, photographs or colour swatches in mind please bring them to the consultation in order to aid the discussion. We will work together to draw up preliminary sketches featuring important aspects of the design.
I then create a provisional design in the form of a pair of drawings showing the front and back of the dress. I will forward this to you with some suggested fabric samples and an estimate of how much it will cost to make. This estimated quote will be based on an hourly rate of £20, plus the cost of materials. Any subsequent adjustments to the design may affect the estimated price.
I will need to take a full set of measurements before cutting and constructing a toile (a sample dress in a cotton fabric) which can be adjusted easily to ensure an accurate fit.
The adjusted toile will then be used as a reference to create the finished dress from the desired fabrics. Each piece will be cut out, machined together and hand-finished to the highest standard and quality. Further fittings will be necessary to the ensure the very best tailored fit.
The process of making my lampwork glass beads begins with coloured glass rods arriving in my workshop. They are melted using a blow torch and reformed around metal rods to form beads. The shapes and patterns are created by layering colours, applying patterns, adding metal foils or enamels, and using tools to mould the softened glass.
All my beads are kiln annealed to ensure the glass cools precisely, strengthening the bead and reducing the risk of cracks forming between the layers.
Once I have completed a group of beads I begin to build a design. Sometimes this simply means stringing beads together into a pleasing design but it can include introducing semi-precious gemstones such as amethyst, smoky quartz, jade and crystal or freshwater pearls to enhance the shapes and textures of my glass beads. The beads are threaded onto either two-millimetre Greek leather thong or fine stainless steel wires with sterling silver findings to give a quality and long lasting finish.
My designs tend to be inspired by natural themes: the colours of the seasons, the landscape and our nearby beaches. I love the way light changes throughout the day, making textures, colours and reflections appear to alter as time progresses. My aim is to produce a balanced piece with shapes, colours and textures working together to produce unique and original jewellery.