Laurel was the name of my great grandmother – I never got to meet her as she died when my Nan was only little but by all accounts she was quite something. She was a Tailoress and made suits so I think I must’ve inherited my love of needlework and sewing from her.
I’ve been working on some new designs recently which involves a lot of scribbling down ideas, sketching and trying out lots of different things to see what actually works. Often, what seems like a marvellous idea in my head doesn’t always work in reality and there’s a lot if trial and error before a new design comes to life.
The majority of my designs, well, all of them really, are inspired by flowers, leaves, plants and the natural world and I spend countless hours trying to recreate the intricate shapes and patterns I find in nature from tiny glass beads, pearls, crystals and wire, silks, lace and old fashioned hand and bead embroidery.
I use metal leaves a lot and, whilst experimenting with a pile of little silver leaf beads, I got thinking about the longevity of the leaf crown as an adornment throughout history. Gold leaf crowns and headpieces are hugely popular with brides at the moment but this is far from an original or new trend. A quick look on the Internet will bring up images of the most exquisite and beautiful gold leaf crowns from Ancient Greek and Roman times featuring laurel, olive and oak leaves with little flowers. In ancient Greece, the laurel wreath was worn to celebrate athletic achievements and became a symbol of the Olympian. In some countries, the laurel wreath was a symbol of the Masters Degree and worn by students at graduation ceremonies and the word ‘laureate’ in Poet Laureate refers to the laurel wreath.
Here are a few images found on Google of the most incredible Ancient Greek leaf crowns – these beautiful creations date back hundreds of years to the fourth century BC and the work that’s gone into them is amazing – they also look incredibly modern.
In ancient times the laurel or olive crown consisted of a horseshoe shaped design of interlocking branches and in more modern times, the wreath has been more commonly made as a full circlet. When making my headpieces, one of my main considerations is always comfort – you’re going to be wearing this thing on your head for the best part of a day so it’s got to be comfortable and not too heavy. My take on the laurel wreath is as a series of lightweight headbands, vines, combs and pins and each year I add to my collection of leaf inspired pieces.
Here are some of my current leaf and Autumn inspired designs.
Autumn Leaves Hair Vine in Antique Gold
At the moment, I’m working with little foil leaves that I’m individually wiring together with freshwater pearls and tiny glass beads to make very light hair adornments. I haven’t made full, fixed circles as I think that versatility is important – you may well change your ideas of how to wear your hair so having a headpiece that can be worn in numerous different ways is quite helpful. So here’s a little look at some works in progress, not all of these may make the final collection and I’m experimenting with silver colours at the moment but the final designs will come in gold, silver and rose gold colours. I think it would only be right to call the collection ‘Laurel’