Gemma Sangwine

Unique and bespoke millinery and hair accessories


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Wiring together a Vintage Diamante Side Tiara

I have been making these side tiaras for a while now, but it all started in 2013 in response to an enquiry from a bride-to-be….montage

Paula loved vintage marcasite brooches and wanted a statement bridal headpiece made from them. I experimented with different techniques and ended up using silver plated wire to bind all the pieces together and fix them onto a blonde coloured headband.

Since then I have made many more of these headpieces (and learnt that they are called side tiaras!) and I have refined the way that I make them.

Here I will take you through the process I use to make a wire frame to hold the pieces of vintage jewellery together.

To start, bring together the jewellery you want to use and decide on the layout and composition. Think carefully about the size, weight and balance of the piece. At this stage I usually have lots of brooches and earrings piled up and I try out different compositions and different pieces, taking a photo of each one on my phone, and then scrolling through the photos to see which looks best.

JpegHere I have settled on a design made with 4 brooches and a pair of earrings, all gold tone with red diamante. Next I take some 1.0 gold plated wire and make a frame which will be the main structure that the jewellery will be wired onto.

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JpegThe jewellery will sit on top of the frame, but check that it will be as hidden as possible and that each piece of jewellery can be securely wired onto it – hence the little wings on either side for the earrings to attach to.

I have used 0.4 wire to bind the ends of the frame where they overlap.

Next take a length of about 40cm of 0.2 wire and thread it through a needle, use it doubled over and knot it at the end. The 0.2 wire is fine enough to sew with and strong enough to hold the jewellery in place. Cast it onto the frame and sew on the first piece of jewellery. I usually start with the last brooch at the bottom. You can also keep the clasps intact and use them to help secure the brooches to the frame. Use the needle to bring the wire up through the small gaps in the brooch and back down to catch onto the frame. At this stage I should point out that this technique only works with jewellery that has gaps between the diamante stones for you to sew through, some pieces are totally solid and are only good for glueing onto feather or fabric bases.

Once all the jewellery is securely fixed to the frame, go round with teflon pliers to make sure all ends of the 0.2 wire, where you have cast it on, are smoothed over.

Now you can fix the diamante onto a headband. I prefer to use ribbon covered bands in a colour to match the client’s hair colour, then they disappear in the hair and all you see is the diamante.

Model -Stephanie Hazel Poole •  Photography- Kayleigh Adams Photography

This is a great way of recycling vintage jewellery, especially odd earrings and brooches which have broken clasps. You can also incorporate heirloom jewellery and pieces of sentimental value.


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Here’s Another One I Made Earlier…..

In the previous post I introduced the collaborative photo-shoot I worked on recently with Emmie Miles Bespoke Dressmaking. The second dress Emmie designed was a 1930’s style silk satin gown with a train and feature embroidery on the waistband at the front.

It had a soft, regal and feminine feel to it and I decided I wanted to make a vintage diamanté tiara to go with it.

Anne montage

I don’t usually do sketches for my work, I just respond to the materials and play around with mock-ups, trying out different compositions with a variety of different pieces of vintage jewellery, until I find one that feels right.

Anne mockups

The first piece I made featured vintage 1920’s and 30’s jewellery but it was not quite right for the dress, too heavy and geometric. So I tried again, and picked out a selection of diamanté flower brooches that reflected the softness of the embroidery, and had a slight blue/pink tint to some of the stones which worked well with the soft pink silk of the dress.

Anna final montage

For the photo-shoot Harriet styled and set Anne’s long hair in a 1930’s movie star do. Overall, once the dress and tiara were on, Anne looked like a glamorous screen goddess!

The dress is the ‘Vera’ by Emmie Miles Bespoke Dressmaking & Design, hair by Harriet’s Organic Hairdressing, make-up by Aine Thomas. And of course the photos are by the very talented wedding and portrait photographer Camilla Reynolds.


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Here’s One I Made Earlier…

I was contacted earlier this year by fashion designer and dress-maker Emmie Miles to provide hair accessories for her to use in a bridal photo-shoot. Emmie was in the process of designing and making samples for her latest bridal wear collection, I saw the sketches and loved what she was doing, and instantly envisioned what hair pieces I could make to compliment them.

Photo by Camilla Reynolds Photography, dress by Emmie MilesPhotos by Camilla Reynolds Photography

There were 3 dresses, and the first to take form was an ivory silk 1950’s style wedding dress, with pearl and bead embellishment on the front.

I wanted to make a 50’s style pearl bead and crystal fascinator with veil, to compliment the detailing Emmie had done and fit in with the vintage feel.

Pearl & diamante fascinator...step by stepI made the frame first, to the shape and size I wanted, and covered it in knitted wire. Next up I sewed on the biggest pearl beads and crystals. I wanted to cover the entire piece, but to keep it a random mix of different sized beads – I was using vintage pearl necklaces, which varied slightly in colour. It soon became apparent this was going to take a long time! So I spent a few hours a day on it, and……15 hours later…….it was finished!

Photo by Camilla Reynolds Photography, dress by Emmie Miles, Fascinator by Gemma SangwinePhotos by Camilla Reynolds Photography

So here it is modelled by the beautiful Uta, looking every inch as elegant as Grace Kelly!

The dress is the ‘Emma’ by Emmie Miles Bespoke Dressmaking & Design, hair by Harriet’s Organic Hairdressing, make-up by Aine Thomas. And of course the photos are by the very talented wedding and portrait photographer Camilla Reynolds.

 


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Farewell 2013…..and hello 2014!

Firstly, Happy New Year to you all, and thanks for your support and encouragement throughout 2013.

It’s been a while since I last wrote anything on here. The last few months have been a busy time, with lots of stock and orders to make for Christmas. The Flapper style headbands have been selling well through As Long as it Sparkles, my stockist in Stow-on-the-Wold, and at this time of year I make upcycled felted woollen snoods and arm warmers which are popular at my local outlet Made in Stroud!

I also had a commission to do for a bride-to-be whose wedding was at the end of October. She had seen my fascinators in Cox & Baloney in Bristol, and wanted a feather piece with diamante jewellery and a veil.

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The overall colour scheme included orange and green, which we tried to include without looking too garish, and I’m glad to say we succeeded! The Pheasant feathers have natural orange and brown tones, and I picked out a green diamante brooch which mixed in well with the other vintage jewellery.

I was so pleased to receive these photos of the big day, they were so relaxed about the whole event, it was a pleasure to work with Clare and I love the autumnal feel of her outfit, with the fur trim on her dress, very elegant, soft and feminine.

AP1K9778I had another, last minute commission for bride who was getting married on the 27th December, and wanted a hair comb with pearls (to tie in with detailing on her dress), diamante, and a bit of dark blue (to tie in with her bridesmaid’s dresses).

I took a quick snap of the finished piece before I sent in on it’s way, and look forward to seeing the wedding photos soon!

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I’m a little bit nervous. I foolishly agreed to do two fairs this weekend. Yes, two days in a row, setting up and taking down my stand and beautifully displayed stock, all day spent on my feet…….I feel tired just thinking about it!

I’ve been busy making new stock, finalising new designs, and juggling two current bridal commissions and two orders from stockists! (It’s all coming in pairs at the moment)

montageAbove are two bridal pieces, made with vintage diamante and marcasite jewellery. The design is developed from a commission I did recently for a bride to be.

So, on Saturday I will be at the monthly Vintage & Handmade Market at the Mauritania, Bristol. I share a pitch with my local vintage shop Strangeness and Charm Vintage Boutique and will have some lovely authentic vintage clothes and accessories, alongside my handmade hair accessories.

Then on Sunday I will be further up the road at Goldbrick House for the Chosen Wedding Fair run by the deliciously named Kiki. I’ve had a peek at the list of other stall holders and it is going to be divine! I will also have a selection of authentic vintage wedding dresses and accessories, again courtesy of Strangeness and Charm.

If you’re in Bristol this weekend do stop by to say hi! There will be lots of vintage and handmade delights, all original and unique, and a great opportunity to meet makers and commission something special. I also enjoy the chance to talk to other makers, and connect with customers, getting valuable feedback on my designs and products.


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Bristol Brides

Today I had the unique experience of attending a dress fitting for four very gorgeous and excited young ladies, being a bride-to-be and her three bridesmaids, along with her mother and mother-in-law!

I was dropping of a wedding commission, and we had arranged to meet at the studio of Laura of twentythree, a dress maker with a workshop at Cox & Baloney, Bristol. It’s the ideal setting as they have a lovely tea room there so you can relax with a cuppa whilst choosing fabrics, colours and styles.

cox and baloney shop picnik

Photo by mystreetchic

Tomorrow I am going back to deliver another bridal order, a very different piece, and this time I’m just meeting the bride-to-be so it won’t be quite so hectic!

More photos to come – Keep an eye out for them on my Commissions page!


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Pearly Queen

I have been collecting up old pearl necklaces, initially thinking of using them for flapper style head bands or tiaras, but after playing with coiling one round on a sinamay base and adding a diamante brooch for a bit of sparkle I came up with this design;

bridal montage

This particular one is available at my new stockist in Bristol, Cox & Baloney (more on them later!) and received very positive comments, which has lead me to develop the design into a range using different coloured bases and necklaces.

vintage bridal trio

The middle one has handmade flowers made with pink satin fabric with vintage earrings in the centre, I have made lots of felt flowers before, but struggled to find a design that works with lightweight fabrics, and have been experimenting with different shapes before finally coming up with these.

I’ve enjoyed making them and am looking forward to creating more over the coming weeks, I always need to put time aside to just play with new ideas before the product clicks and I have something I’m happy with, it’s all part of the creative process, and can be equally frustrating and rewarding!