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A giant jigsaw puzzle

I have nearly finished my giant jigsaw puzzle that is The Newburgh Priory Christmas Fair ! Like most jigsaws, when it comes to slotting in the last few pieces, they slot in pretty quickly!

Preparations for the fair start in January although I am on the look out for artists and exhibitors throughout the year. I commission an artist to illustrate the invitation, to make for a more personal, colourful and enticing invite. This year, friend and artist, Christopher Brown, very kindly agreed to take on this task. I knew the outcome would be good and the end result didn't disappoint! I think you'll agree, Christopher's illustration (shown below) is magnificent! The design of the layout was carried out by Christopher Bird who did a brilliant job; the icing on the cake!

Thursday 29th November 5pm - 9pm Tickets £10 (to be purchased in advance)

Friday 30th November 10am - 5pm Tickets £5 (purchase on the door)

Saturday 1st December 10am - 5pm Tickets £5 (purchase on the door)


This year brings a wave of new exhibitors to the fair, in fact over 75% are new additions AND coming from all over the country such as *Nant Designs based in Wales, *Kitty Mackenzie (Scotland), Punica (Dorset), *Michael Parkin Fine Art (Norfolk) and Fitz & Fro (London)! I feel honoured they are coming from such a distance. *new exhibitor

More local to the area are York based milliners, Anita Gordon & Louise Cameron AKA Rose & Flo I am constantly intrigued by the making and inspiration behind a product and was delighted when Anita & Louise said they would take part in a short Q&A session which I would like to share with you:

What’s your background and what led you to become an milliner?

Louise and I met at the school gate a few years ago and soon realised we both had a shared passion for creativity. Louise was making children’s hand crafted hairbands and I have always sewn soft furnishings for my house. We decided to book onto a millinery course, it was a natural progression for Louise and I had looked into millinery courses in the past. We loved it which led us to set up Rose and Flo Millinery. Rose is Louise’s Mum and Flo is my Mum!

What inspires your work?

We are inspired by the variety materials and colours which can be used in Millinery. A millinery supplier is a a treasure trove and this can inspire new ideas and we often start with a material or trimming which catches our eye. Meeting clients also inspires us as we can develop an understanding of them and create a hat or fascinator which is truly bespoke.

How has your practice developed over time?

We have taken several courses to develop new techniques and work with new materials. Learning from other milliners is a great way to expand our skills. Louise and I have a great partnership and bounce ideas off each other which works well. Creating new pieces can sometimes be challenging and we use each other which can inspire the next step.

Is there a material or technique you are most comfortable working with?

Sinemay is a great natural material which can be moulded in a variety of ways. It is quite often the base of a hat or fascinator and we use blocks (wooden hat shapes) to shape it. You can also block other materials such as felt and parasisal. We both enjoy the blocking process as you can see the hat beginning to take shape.

What are you working on next?

We are working our Autumn/Winter collection as well as working for clients. We have used some wonderful Yorkshire Tweed which has all the Autumn colours and we also have some made felt fedoras which we love.

Describe your creative process, what are the major steps?

When we work together we will have several ideas which we share and quite often will have found a material, colour, feather or trimming we want to use. We work together in our workshop (in Louise’s garden) and will initially draw a draft of what we are making. We will often work on our own designs separately but come together before finishing the hat or fascinator. We can look at each others pieces and tweak before it’s finally finished. Working for a client is a different process as by the end of the consultation with them we will have the shape, size, colour and design in place.

What brands do you most admire and how do they influence your work