Posts Tagged ‘weddings’

The first event presenting my French beaded flower bridal accessories to the world (well, the world of Prescott, Arizona, anyway) is over (it was yesterday) and today I’m sitting here in the glow of all the wonderful comments and appreciation of my work I received. I heard “gorgeous!” and “wow!” and “you made that by hand???” I really didn’t expect that. Which made it all the sweeter.

I went into A Bridal Affaire hosted by PrescottWeddings.com, run by my good friend Hazel Bowman, more as a challenge to myself to produce a product line. I created lots of samples, pushing myself to a self-imposed deadline, and looked forward to getting some feedback to determine if I was on the right track. I also wanted to see if I loved doing this enough that I would still love it when I was doing it every day, under pressure to meet deadlines. I did. I do! I also found that not only do I love making these beautiful things for people planning their special events, I like teaching other people how to do it, too!

I felt there might be a local market for my work, but I wasn’t really sure. Up until now I’ve really seen mine as a niche market I can best reach online mostly through Etsy. I still think it’s true, but if the response I got yesterday turns into actual orders I may have to rethink that a bit!

In fact, if those who said they wanted me to make them something special for their wedding actually follow through, along with my Etsy orders I will have my hands full for the rest of the year! This is both thrilling and a bit daunting.

Having been a freelance writer most of my adult life I am very familiar with peaks and valleys, feasts and famine, and I know how to budget my time and handle tight deadlines. Yet I think every artistic person has that “gulp” moment when they launch their creative output into the world wondering…will I be swamped? Or will I be sitting here twiddling my thumbs listening to crickets in the thicket? Hopefully it will be something in between.

What I love about what happened yesterday, and throughout the months leading up to the event, is how focused my creative direction has become. I know exactly what I want to do, have come up with a plan that I think will work well to make it happen, and it’s very clear to me what steps I need to take. Don’t you just love it when that happens?

I hope you’ll continue to follow along with me down this path. As I make new things I’ll be listing them on Etsy and I’ll explain more about how they are made and the story behind them here on the blog. I’ll also tell you about the custom pieces I’ll hopefully be making to order for my Prescott brides. I plan on picking up my series on how to do French beaded flowers starting this week or next, as well. Whew, lots to do. I’m excited! And I’m even more excited to have you by my side on this beautiful journey. Off we go…


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A link from another blog, Erin Fickert-Rowland’s Elysian Studios, brought me to this blog post about a butterfly wedding. How gorgeous is this?

It comes from Shannon Eileen’s Happiness Is…blog from last year on “Butterfly Themed Weddings.” She’s gathered some other lovely butterfly things there as well.

When I recently visited Pismo Beach, California to take an exciting two-day class with Diana Frey and Riki Schumacher called Bezelicious I spent some time at the Monarch butterfly grove there. Such a delightful experience. What could be more romantic and inspiring than thousands of butterflies all in one cluster of trees?

I can see so many possibilities. I know the holidays are coming, but so is….WEDDING SEASON. As soon as I finish the push to make lots of new items for my Etsy shop in time for the holidays I’ll be turning my attention to all those newly engaged couples. Did you know that the holidays are the number one time of the year for folks to pop the question? I know we were part of that statistic!

I have so many ideas for a new bridal line now that I’m concentrating on designing with French beaded flowers. I’ll be sharing the design process with you in the coming months.

I see a trend — weddings and butterflies. What do you think?

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Getting ready to launch a whole new line of products for my online shop can be a bit daunting. This is where I take all I’ve learned over the past six months to refine and focus my niche online.

I’ve been reading, reading, reading (thanks to all those other great experienced bloggers out there!) about how to market myself and my skills better. I’ve decided that the bridal/special occasion market is really where I want to be and my French beaded flower-making skills are what set me apart.

With that in mind, I’m busy making prototypes that can be reproduced in different colors and customized for whatever event the customer is looking to accessorize. Designing is so much fun!

I started with simple hair clips for little girls (or big girls like me who just like them).

So far I’ve designed four variations and thought I’d make a set in ten different colors to start. Of course, I can match just about any color if given a swatch. (Have I mentioned I have a bead store in my basement???)

For the bride, mother and mother-in-law of the bride, and bridesmaids I’ll be offering “statement” hair accessories like this one.

This design can easily be made into a brooch or added to a headband as well so it’s very versatile.

Then it’s on to bridal headpieces and circlets, boutonnieres, and even full stems to add to bridal bouquets. The final and most ambitious pieces will be full bouquets and tussie mussies that are completely made of beaded flowers.

All of these designs can be adapted to any occasion like a prom or black tie affair.

I’ve got my work cut out for me, just creating the basic product line, but I’m having so much fun translating the beauty of Nature’s flowers into beads it hardly seems like work!

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I, like so many women I talk to, have a Love-Hate relationship with Martha Stewart. I first encountered her on the book circuit in 1992 when my first book, Your Victorian Wedding: A Modern Guide for the Romantic Bride, was released. Martha Stewart Weddings came out at the same time and since we both lived in southern Connecticut we were literally tripping over each other as we both went around promoting our wedding books.

Needless to say, Martha had way more clout and exposure than I did and her book did a tad better.

One of the things I do admire about Martha is the way she has brought the Domestic Arts back into their rightful place — held in high esteem as both “artful” and “useful.” She has focused attention on the creativity that we can bring to keeping house, cooking, sewing, gardening and all things domestic that, in my opinion, was being lost in the interest of some misguided newfangled concept of modern life and femininity. I have more than a little problem with her devotion to conspicuous consumption, but we’ll leave that topic for another day.

In a recent segment on her show on the Hallmark channel, Martha highlighted Wardian cases. (I confess, I DVR the show and watch it, fast-forwarding through the celebrity ooh-aah segments and stuff I’m not interested in.) I was fascinated.

Photo source

Living in Arizona but being originally from the humid Northeast, I sometimes long for the moisture-loving plants that are so difficult or impossible to grow here. I miss the moss I had covering a hill next to my bedroom window. I miss my hostas and hydrangeas. I’d love to grow orchids.

I recalled seeing a terrarium at a lady’s house when I was a little girl that she had turned into a tiny environment for fairies and gnomes she would craft from clay, complete with little houses made from mushrooms and miniature caves where they could live.

So I bought myself a Wardian case. Yes, I did.

Photo Source

Of course, Martha had all these beautiful antique ones that are rare and cost a fortune. She made it sound like it was a real chore to find any these days. Well, maybe ORIGINAL ones, but (enter the Internet) FEAR NOT! Wardian cases ABOUND! I’ve made a list of sources for you at the bottom of this post.

But, you ask, “What the heck exactly IS a Wardian case and how did it get its name?”

Photo Source

These mini-environments are named it seems for Dr. Nathaniel Ward, an amateur entomologist and botanist from London and a collector of plant species from far-away places. You can read Ward’s original book on the subject for free here.

These little greenhouses allowed Dr. Ward to bring back his plants safely, sometimes across the sea, happy in their carefully controlled habitats. He is even credited with creating the orchid growing craze of the Victorian era. Just what I wanted to hear.

Like a greenhouse, the Wardian case allows us to maintain high humidity and fairly constant temperature with a minimum of effort. And besides, they are beautiful.

The first Wardian cases were apparently made of wood, but the Victorians could never leave well enough alone (or plain). They made lovely Gothic versions that can be found in some of the reproductions readily available today.

In the 1970s there was a huge revival of interest in terrariums so you can sometimes find vintage ones from that period as well. True Victorian Wardian cases pop up occasionally on places like eBay or Etsy but they’re a little out of my range. I’ll leave those for Martha <g>.

I haven’t a clue about how to plant my case, but there’s plenty of information online and I’m sure there are some good books to be found. I specifically bought a tall one to accommodate an special orchid or two. If I’m not happy with what I find locally, I can always order my plants online as well. Again, take a look at my source list below.

As I begin putting my case together I’ll do some posts to show you my progress. As in all new undertakings there will be a learning curve but that has never scared me before. Somehow this seems like the absolute perfect time on both a seasonal and emotional level to be planting a little green world.

I also have a handcrafted leaded glass open terrarium I picked up at a yard sale years ago that I have never done anything with. I have an mind to plant that with some desert plants — sedums and such. But first things first.

If you’re into Wardian cases or terrariums and want to share, please do! I’m always interested in seeing your comments.

Martha Stewart article on her Wardian case TV segment

And a page devoted to Dr. Nathaniel Ward

Places to buy and learn about Wardian cases:

Where I got mine

This site has all sorts of enclosed planting options

And this site looks really good with lots of info including how to make a terrarium from a soda bottle! There’s also some good info on which plants to use and the owner of the site sells some plants on amazon.com and there’s a good article on terrariums at this site.

And here’s a Flickr album of some cases and terrariums by an enthusiast. I love the little vignettes she makes, especially the ones with birds nests and eggs. It also shows you can keep your plants in containers and change them if you like, you don’t have to do a permanent planting. I may start off my experiment this way.

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Not long ago this was a new word to me, and I thought I knew quite a lot about millinery. I’ve even made some period hats in my time. But Fascinator? Sounded like an intriguing man!

Since I follow the bridal and formal markets, I started seeing this term more and more over the past year or so so I decided to look into it. What’s the fascination with Fascinators? Pardon the cliche’.

Fascinators were apparently common accessories in the 18th century, but fell out of favor as fashions are wont to do. They are somewhere between a hair accessory and a hat and attach to the hair with an alligator clip, comb, headband or elastic.

They are associated with burlesque queens and showgirls, albeit in a much more showy form, although I’d call the one worn by Princess Beatrice above a bit “showy,” wouldn’t you?

Today Fascinators are making a strong comeback at weddings and formal occasions. Sarah Jessica Parker, Eva Longoria, Kate Middleton, and Carrie Underwood have all sported one now and again.

The materials used are often luscious feathers, silk flowers and beads. I’ve seen some lovely ones with vintage brooches or earrings added as focal points.

Toni Docktor aka FuchsiaWoman has some great information on her blog about Fascinator history. She’s a self publisher living in California. She says she does housework in a ballgown!

So let’s see who’s out there making them.

Anuccia fascinator

This Fascinator above is by anuccia of the UK. It includes jet Swarovski crystals and can be dyed to any color.

Ooh La La Plume

Ooh La La Plume from the UK has a pretty comprehensive history of Fascinators on her site and makes a variety of lovely designs you can view in her shop. [Ooh La La Plume "Tiffany" above]

She tells us:

“Fascinators took a bit of a tumbling decline from the 1960’s but their popularity was brought very much back into the limelight when the Duchess of Cornwall chose a Fascinator for her marriage to Prince Charles while the Queen wore a Fascinator at the wedding of her grandson Peter Phillips.”

Fascinator from Serephine

And check out Erin Brook’s site, Seraphine, and  her Fascinator history, which includes some nice historic pictures as well as pix of current celebs with their feathers showing. Erin uses lots of vintage jewels in her pieces and judging from the pix of beautiful satisfied brides, they love ‘em! She’s located in Seattle, WA. [Seraphine "Audrey" Fascinator above]

Georgina Macaulay fascinator

Georgina Macauley, also in the UK, has a huge selection of Fascinators on her site at hatsandfascinators.com. ["Flower Crinoline" Fascinator from Hats and Fascinators above]

Want to make your own? Here’s a delightful video from the UK that shows making a little tiny hat Fascinator in just a few minutes:

Just google “making fascinators” or similar term and you’ll finds lots of instructions. I’ve got the feathers, the combs and clips, the glue, the beads and some nifty vintage brooches and earrings I can take apart. I’m going to try some and share them in a later post. If you decide to, too, I’d love to see them!

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