Paper flowers by Haruka Misawa

Haruka Misawa graduated from the Interior Design Course at Musashino Art University, Tokyo in 2005. Haruka noticed how when shaving a pencil the shavings resemble petals. She reproduced this using layers of paper, so that a flower blossoms when a pencil-shaped cylindrical scroll of paper is sharpened. Haruka printed paper with a colour gradation, applied paste to the surface, wrapped it around a core into a pencil-like form, and shaved it. And these were the results…







The enchanting worlds of Verdantica

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Isobel Cortese is the fascinating person behind Verdantica. She creates bespoke and miniature terraniums and miniature scenes in curious objects. Her little worlds capture a moment in time and leave the viewer with a sense of enchantment and wonder.

I first came across Isobel’s Verdantica when visiting Leeds Craft and Design Centre earlier this Spring where she was exhibiting and I’ve followed her work since. I am delighted that she has taken some time from her miniature worlds to tell me all about her business.

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Isobel works from her attic space at home,

“It is a very bright room and I can hear the river when I have the window open, it is a lovely space to work in. I make all my creations at a table, which is usually full of jars in various stages of progress, long tools, tubs of tiny people, grass and trees. I always have my radio playing too. “

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Her morning schedule is a mixture of balancing family life and business organisation,

“After taking my kids to school, I have a cup of tea and some toast. During this quiet time, I plan what needs to be done for the day by making a list, then I am ready to start.”

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I asked Isobel about the more difficult aspects of setting up her business and some experiences which have given her confidence,

“There were many different challenges, such as learning how to make my own website and how to photograph my work, which was difficult as the light reflects off the glass. So I invested in a great photographer, Sarah Mason, who gave me some really useful tips. I still find the social media side of it a difficult one to be consistent with!”

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“It was a great confidence boost when Alison from the Heart Gallery, asked to stock my work during the very early stages of starting up. This was before I had started trading, so it was a real boost. Since then I have had my work at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and it is now at Leeds Craft Centre and Design Gallery. Also doing art fairs have been great, as it is so nice to get a chance to chat with people about my work.”

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Isobel’s personal and business values centre around love and she believes if you love what you do it will show through your work. Balance in all aspects of life is also important to her, as well as respect and appreciation for nature, evident through a love of gardening.

“ Being disciplined can sometimes be hard, especially if it a beautiful day as I love being in the garden and allotment! But setting myself goals helps keep me disciplined. There is nothing better than a deadline to get me motivated! Also new ideas and sunshine motivate me.”

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“ I get ideas from many different ways, as I find inspiration in many forms. But when I find some little people that I love, I will find a way to make them part of a story. Or sometimes a particular vessel will be the inspiration as to what belongs inside it, especially the vintage pieces.”

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I asked Isobel for some advice for new startups and students and this is what she had to say,

“Whatever you do, try to find your USP (unique selling point), it helps to stand out and be different. But I think it is important to do something which is true to you, so you are creating from the heart. Believe in yourself and what you are doing. Don’t give up!”

Find out more about Verdantica here:


Anna Maria Garthwaite

Born in 1690, Anna Maria Garthwaite was an independent textile designer working in Spitalfields, London. She was one of the leading pattern drawers for the English silk industry. I love patterns and prints and think my own pieces are just lots of little porcelain pieces which make up patterns on my desk. Imagine my delight when I came across these images of her watercolour designs and finished silk fabrics in the V&A museum archives. Her surviving floral designs are now held at the V&A and I would love to see them in person one day but for now these images will give me plenty of inspiration..

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A chat with Kirsty Elson…

Imagine a job hunting for treasure on beautiful Cornwall beaches… Well thats the reality of a day in the life of artist Kirsty Elson. And these pieces of treasure often in the form of driftwood, become the most intriguing sculptures desired by her big following across the globe.


Things really took off for Kirsty when she was accepted to exhibit at the Contemporary Craft Festival in 2012. Her work was on the cover of the brochure and the show was very successful. This teamed with a large and growing social media following has lead to her pieces becoming extremely sought after.

“I was thrilled even to be accepted, but then my work was on the cover of the brochure and sales were amazing! It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before.”

This was when I first came across Kirsty’s creations and I remember everyone talking about her house sculptures. They are so detailed and invoke such nostalgia I was hooked and have followed her work with awe ever since.


I asked Kirsty a little about her working day and workspace,

“I swim every morning at the local pool, see the children off to school then have breakfast whilst responding to emails and so on. I’m always a bit conscious of making too much noise with power tools too early in the morning so I rarely start making before 10am. I’m very lucky to have 2 workspaces! All of the cutting, sawing, drilling etc takes place in the shed, and the painting and all the more decorative bits happen in my little studio indoors. Both are equally untidy. It drives my partner up the wall!”



Kirsty told me a little about her creativity at home,

“I’ll be the first to admit I’m a pretty lousy cook, but I think the interior of our home is definitely an extension of me. We like the pared down, coastal look. Steve has built quite a bit of furniture here, mostly from driftwood. I love that no-one else in the world has the same cupboards or dresser as me!”




I asked Kirsty a little about her businesses future, how she is motivated and where she finds her inspiration,

“I think the number one answer is that I love what I do. I’m so lucky that I don’t get that awful Monday morning feeling (as I have with past jobs). Sometimes when it’s cold and wet outside I’m not particularly keen to go out to my shed but it doesn’t last long. I get pretty tetchy when I’ve been away from work for too long! I’m completely inspired by the materials I find, which helps keep my work fresh, and means that every piece is unique. Also I’m extremely fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful counties in Britain so inspiration is never far away!”

“At the moment I am super busy which is brilliant, but I’m not sure it will last! I have no plans to take on employees or anything, though it would be lovely to have someone to do my posting and packing for me. That is a real drag!”



Kirsty’s business and personal values are simply ‘integrity’ and she has some sound advice for other creative startups and students,

“Just to be unique and original. It’s hard getting established when there are so many others trying to do the same. You need something that sets you apart from everyone else. And be prepared to work more than full-time hours! If you want it badly enough, it will happen!”

Thank-you Kirsty for being part of my blog. If you’d like to know more about Kirsty’s work here are a few links:

On olives, vogue italia and love and photography..



Guilia Zonza set up her business ‘On Love and Photography’ in 2011 with her friend Sophia. She now works as a freelance photographer for weddings as well as for other small businesses including mine.

I met Giulia at The White Closet Bridal Boutique in Manchester 3 years ago when she was photographing their accessories event and I was there with my bridal wear. We got chatting and I asked Giulia if she would take photos of my pieces. We’ve now done several photoshoots together, she also was my wedding photographer and I can tell you she is an absolute dream to work with. I consider myself very lucky to have met her. She has quietly nudged me along with my business several times and styles our shoots perfectly whilst being absolutely lovely. So I was delighted when she agreed to answer my questions amongst her busy schedule.

The thing you must know about Giulia is that everything about her just oozes style. She previously worked as a visual merchandiser and photography stylist. Being a visual person, photography, interiors and fashion are very important to her.


“My husband Ben and I have set up two work stations in our flat’s spare room, one desk each, one laptop for me a big Imac for him. It’s lovely to share the space with him as we are often working on images at the same time whilst listening to 6 music and drinking millions of cups of tea. There is lots of natural light coming through the windows, this is the lightest room of the flat and it feels separate enough from our living space. I try and keep my desk tidy but also filled with all things that inspire me like prints, images, drawings, pretty stationery, flowers and a scented candle. The environment I work in when processing images is super important to me, the light, the sounds, the atmosphere are all essential aspects of a happy productive work day.”

I’m not sure why but I am always fascinated with how successful creative businesses organise their day, I think its a way of checking I’m on track. There’s often a running theme..they all get up early and work long hours! Giulia is no exception to this,

“I am most productive early in the morning so I generally wake up around 7am have a first cup of tea whilst checking emails, news and social media and then sit myself in front of the laptop for 8am ready to edit and process images. Routine I guess is the best form of discipline. We work on tight deadlines especially in the summer when we just can’t not deliver, I just put my head down and work sometimes non stop for 15 hours a day, but then the satisfaction of hearing the couple’s reaction to the images totally pays off and makes it all worth while.”


“I think the most difficult bit was taking the leap, believing we could make it work and then getting to grip with all the practical aspects of setting up a business, we didn’t really know how to do it but just took small steps at the time, (we both still kept our jobs at this stage as a safety net). Setting up the website was probably the biggest and most important part of the process, luckily we had a friend who helped us with it and then things just developed and grew organically from there. Having a partner with whom to share the journey was great, I don’t think I could have done it on my own!”

Giulia shared with me some of the hurdles she has had to overcome. Her experiences resonate really strongly with me, small steps are the way to do it. As long as you’re making steps forwards, your business is going to grow. Having an online presence which resonates with your brand whether thats with a website or social media or both is so helpful to get your business known.  The long hours and hard work have certainly paid off for Giulia and she has enjoyed many successes,

“Having one of our very first wedding blogged was just the best feeling, we will be forever grateful to Lou at Whimsical Wonderland Weddings for giving us the opportunity, we got lots of bookings out of the feature and it helped us launching in the wedding photography sphere! We also had images from a styled shoot on Vogue Italia which was pretty cool too! Having our work featured in blogs and publications is still the best confidence boost for us as well as all the lovely feedback we get from our couples.”


I asked Giulia what her personal and business values are and its easy to see why she’s a dream to work with,

“To be caring, to make sure we offer the best service possible both on a professional and a personal level, being honest and fair, always always giving our all to every and each project we are working on.”


Before my photoshoots I always look at Giulia’s portfolio for inspiration and always find her compositions, colour combinations and use of light very helpful. It’s important to look for inspiration whenever you can and to exercise that part of your brain regularly. It can turn up at funny times of the day or night so always keep a notepad handy. I love to use Pinterest to search and pin inspirational images onto a private board so that they are altogether when I have time to develop new ideas. I try and keep my mind open to inspiring thoughts, images and ideas as soon as I’ve finished one collection, so that they brew in my head for several months ready for when I am designing my next pieces.

“Inspiration comes from all sort of places, going to exhibitions, watching films. Looking at other photographers work inside and out of the wedding world is very important as it keeps us up to date with current trends and looks. I try and look at as many interesting magazines whether on design, craft, fashion as much as possible as it all feeds into my practice. I also work very spontaneously and react to the environment I am in, often the wedding locations help us come up with ideas for shots. Ideas for the more creative styled shoots are also linked to specific locations, interesting evocative spaces are always the source of new ideas. I love what I do, the challenges, the beautiful locations and people we get to meet and work with are all amazing motivations to carry on doing what im doing and wanting more!”

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I am always interested in how creative business owners utilise their spare time. In the first few months/years of setting up a business it will seem hard to have time off but it’s so vital to keep your productivity, energy levels and overall happiness up.

“As we work from home on weekdays and then away at the weekend, it is very difficult to find time to socialize so whenever I have some time off I try to meet up with friends and family. When I’m not in front of the computer I also like going to places like Chorlton and the Northern Quarter and visiting my favourite shops, going for a coffee and soaking up the cool atmosphere. Picking up some fresh flowers is also often part of the ritual. We try and squeeze in travelling in between weddings too so whenever there is the possibility we love going away. Sometimes the laptops come with us too for some processing in the sun. Once the wedding season starts to slow down I tend to go back home to Italy. Late October is olive picking season so I go home then if possible for as long as 1 month for this very special time. The very physical work involved means I can completely switch my brain off, it’s a very different kind of exhaustion almost therapeutic! This is time for family and olive oil.

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I asked Giulia where she sees her business in 10 years time,

“Wow I haven’t really thought that far, I hope I would still be doing this and I would be doing it even better. Age concerns me sometimes as I don’t want to one day become ‘an old fashioned photographer’ I see old school wedding photographers now and think how they are stuck in the past and totally not in tune with the contemporary look and ideas. Things seem to move very quickly in this field, what was on trend when I started now seems outdated. So yes I guess I hope the business would have moved on and developed with time. The dream is also to set up a sister company exclusively for destination weddings (watch this space) and one day perhaps live and work in a warm country!”

Giulia had some advice to share for new creative start-ups and students,

“Just go for it!!! Follow your instinct and your heart as they know the way, and also ask questions, speak to people who have done the same, find help its out there, do lot of research. Don’t be scared or intimidated by other’s success but see it as an inspiration and something to aim to as I can promise you will get there too! Don’t give up.”

Thanks Giulia for sharing so much with me. I hope you have all enjoyed reading. Please do share with your networks if you think it would be helpful for others.










Want to run your own creative business? Sarah Statham from Simply By arrangement tells us how she’s done just that.

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I bet there’s a few of us who have considered a brand new fresh start as a florist, working amongst nature all day, growing and nurturing the most beautiful flowers. It sounds like a dream come true.

Well Sarah Statham did just that. 3 years ago she left her successful career as a criminal lawyer. After 20 years of working in that field, a change of career would seem inconceivable for many but Sarah made the jump and has since enjoyed many successes whilst overcoming many hurdles.

Sarah now runs Simply By Arrangement from her home in West Yorkshire where she creates her floral masterpieces. Along with her long time friend and now colleague Christie, they also hold a fantastic array of workshops which include fresh coffee, cake and a 3 course lunch with wine. The food is all made in house by Christie. So you leave with a new skillset as well as a full and happy stomach.

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I have been lucky to meet Sarah since moving to Hebden Bridge and I asked her a few questions about her life as a florist. I was really interested in her studio space. She described it to me,

“A studio in the garden so that I can be near to any flowers I need to pick up and so that I can look out of the large window and see the hills and trees. I have a huge cupboard for vessels and equipment, heavy duty shelves for lots of buckets and 2 huge sinks. There are 2 adjustable workbenches which were made to measure by George Kidd at Dovetail in Hebden Bridge. They have zinc tops which are great for all the water but also look good as a background for flowers. I spend a lot of time making little patterns with flower heads on the zinc patina when I really should be working! It’s a quiet, calm place and I love being in there.

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I’m always interested in how successful small business owners utilise their time especially how they gear themselves up for work;

“I get up early, especially in summer when flowers need picking before it gets hot. After a pint of Yorkshire tea and some kind of green juice which I kid myself is good for me, I check emails and glance at instagram. I’m also partial to a second breakfast and am addicted to marmalade. A lot of my work happens later in the day once flowers have been in water for a while. If we have a class to teach we start at 10am and the workshop gets filled with flowers and a scented geranium candle.”

Social media is great to show all the positive aspects of having your own business, beautiful pictures, smiling faces. But it rarely shows the difficulties and hurdles creatives face in order to get a business off the ground and then to grow it. On the most part we don’t share the aspects which are very grueling. For Sarah it was getting people to know who they were,

“We started from nothing and I had a very different career. At first we had customers who knew us personally. But gradually, thanks mainly to social media and the free advertising it allows, we have built up a much bigger customer base. Making flowers is a very visual thing. I had no idea how to take a decent photograph but I quickly realized how important this is and did a couple of online photography courses. I’m still learning!

It is overcoming these hurdles and seeing hard work pay off which instills confidence in you to carry on. Sarah describes some of the things they have achieved,

“We’ve done some great things creatively, at places I love. Probably the best thing was a workshop we held at the Bronte Parsonage where we were asked to fill the house with flowers for the birthday celebrations of Charlotte Bronte. We used British flowers which I’m passionate about. Recently we helped the National Trust with a photoshoot at Hardcastle Craggs and I particularly enjoyed working with other local artists there. But on a day to day level, I take more comfort from the fact that we have lots of repeat customers for our workshops and brides who just come and trust us to create them something beautiful because they’ve seen what we do.”

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It can be hard especially in the early days of setting up a business to stay motivated. I wanted to know how Sarah kept disciplined and kept coming up with new ideas,

“I suppose I just love what I do and appreciate it more having spent so long in a different world. I’m very much motivated by whats growing outside and so every new flower that appears must have its day in a floral design of some description. This week it’s apple blossom, next week it will be aquilegia. I’m always thinking about new things to cover for workshops and the same with designs. Weirdly a lot of my ideas come to me whilst I’m asleep!”

I asked Sarah about her personal and business values,

“The values for our business, and for me are probably the same. Keep things simple and honest, work to the highest standard. Be generous especially in sharing what knowledge you can and always encourage others. I love to see people from our workshops go about their own ‘flowery journey’. Oh, and maintain dignity and a good sense of humour at all costs!”

Her creativity also feeds into other areas of her personal life,

“I love interior design almost as much as flowers. I also love fashion and whilst I’m no fashionista I do avidly watch what is going on as inevitably whatever is on the catwalk will filter down into flower fashion. I love gardens and seeing them all around the world and locally. Places like Great Dixter or Harlow Carr are both inspirational and very calming. They’re also a good place to practice photography. I love art galleries too, always places to get ideas from. I’ve always loved books and have several piles all around the house.”

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I finished on asking Sarah if she had any advice to other creative business start ups and students,

“Absorb as much as you can from others, read extensively and practice your craft as often as possible. Find a mentor whose work you admire or look closely at others and see how they present their work. If you can, go on courses and always keep learning. Never become complacent about what you do, the nervous feeling should never go away.”

A fresh start..

Its been 3 months since I moved to the picturesque town of Hebden Bridge, nuzzled in the valleys of West Yorkshire. It’s been a dream of mine to move here since my now husband brought me here on a date years ago and I fell in love with it..I love it so much he even proposed to me here. As soon as the moving van had left, I had settled in and I unpacked at the speed of light. The scenery, the walking and the slower pace of life suits me and gives my mind the space it needs to focus on my creativity. Working from home took a little getting used to, but now the peacefulness with only Denny (my tiny but big spirited dog) and the birds (which constantly seem to dance in front of my window) is a recipe for a productive day.

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We moved house just before Christmas so I had just one day to get my studio in working order with my Christmas orders piling up. My studio takes up the attic and it’s great to have more space and different areas to do my making, glazing, jewellery making and order packing. Denny loves it as the sun streams in all day which means lots of sunbathing for him! The wonderful Giulia Zonza from On Love and Photography came to visit and took some pictures of my new space and of me in action..

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Thanks to Giulia for the photos and thank-you for reading. If you’d like to see more behind the scenes/studio pics then I’m now on Snapchat at marie_canning (link here) .

Happy Spring everyone x



A Most Curious Wedding Fair

I’ve just come back down to earth after a wonderful time at the most curious wedding fair in London at the weekend and I just had to share some of the many many fantastic exhibitors creations. The fair is so carefully organised and curated by forward thinking ladies Cat, Becky and Sara and the result is a mix of talented wedding designers, both well known and emerging.

In case you missed the event here are some of my favourites…

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I was really happy to be neighbours with the wonderful Giulia from On Love and Photography you might recognise one of the snaps on her table..Giulia has done my website photos as well as my wedding photos and she is an incredible and lovely photographer. We also may have demolished a delicious bottle of vino together in our excitement on the Friday after the we had a lot of fun over the weekend!

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Unsurprisingly I adored the intricate embroidery of Daisy Sheldon. She embroiders the sweetest details of birds and flowers onto lingerie and veils and the results are stunning.

Belle and Bunty

We were all wowed by the fabulous pink (my favourite colour of course) stand of Belle and Bunty. These inspirational women have the coolest brand of modern vintage wedding dresses and their dresses were even more beautiful in real life.


I have fallen in love with the playful and enchanted designs of Clara Francis Jewellery. Whimsical and magical I think these could be worn long after your wedding day.

Wildflower cakes

It was really hard to walk away from Wildflower Cakes stand…once you were there you were snared by the delicious smell of icing and the delicate watercolour style painted anemonies. I also had a sample (or two!) and it was as scrumptious as it was beautiful.


I have followed Minna’s wedding dresses for a long time and was in awe when I got to see them over the weekend. Her dresses are made from sustainable, organic and local textiles, minimising her impact on the environment. An ethos as beautiful as the dresses themselves.


My other lovely neighbour was Things by Laura . Her intricate paper flowers baffled even me..she really must have the patience of a saint! It was a joy to look at her colourful pieces of art for the weekend.

Bobbin and bow

One designer who I think you’ll hear more and more about is Bobbin and Bow. Polish Karolina uses the 18th century technique ‘pajaki’ to create these incredible mixed media chandeliers. Perfect wedding decor as well as something to keep in your home forever.

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This gorgeous floral arrangement is by the talented Vervain Flowers. Described as ‘orchestrated chaos’ her flower arrangements will have you transfixed!


I traveled to London on the train so was limited to what I could carry. I also wanted to keep my space simple and clutter free. Therefore I used fresh flowers and dotted them around my wall with the odd image and my bridal collection laid out in front. It was wonderful to meet so many lovely bride-to-be’s and their family and friends and I had the best time chatting to you all.

Good luck with all your wedding planning bride-to-be’s and wedding suppliers…hope to see you there next year!



The wildflower collection

After weeks spent planning, designing and making, my wildflower collection is finally ready to show to you. And with all my excitement I’m giving 10% off all pre orders for this week only. Just enter the code ‘wildflowers’ at the checkout.

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I have loved moving into the countryside to Hebden Bridge and feel very at home here. I love being around the plants and animals and taking in the views everyday. Theres nothing like being surrounded by hills to put things into perspective and I’ve found the move very refreshing. My studio is now based in my new home. I loved my group studio ‘Arena Studios’ in Liverpool and the wonderfully talented friends I have there but I’m getting used to working alone and I just take myself and Denny off to the local dog cafe if we get a little lonely! I can enjoy a delicious cappuccino whilst Denny indulges in a pupcake whilst catching up with your lovely emails.

Here’s a selection of my new pieces which I hope you like. As always drop me a message if you have any questions about anything, would be lovely to hear from you. Enjoy!…


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Wild rose studs blush

WF halo 7 Rose hairvine 8

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Poppy studs

WF hairvine 4 Sweet pea halo 4

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Gyp halo 10 square

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Gyp halo 8

Gyp studs

Peony collection

Rose hairvine 10 square

Gold rose halo 1

Daisy collection

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Blush and gold rose studs

All credits to: On Love and Photography, Nicola Jewsbury hair and makeup, Abigail from La Moda Models.


Rich coral and gold on crisp white porcelain.

I have some new pieces to share with you this week. Inspired by the rich carpet of fallen autumn leaves that cover my nearby park every morning, I have started using a rich coral glaze, teamed with drops of gold lustre. The rich colour teams beautifully with the crisp white porcelain.

I wanted to share with you, some pictures I’ve been using for inspiration in the design process. I hope you like them, at the bottom of the post you’ll find the photos of my new coral coloured porcelain pieces…

forestForest Image by Autumn Cozy

berries and flowerRed berries by Rory Dexter     Flowers by Kate Osbourne Florals, Sarah Winward

 ThreadsThreads by Tiny Happy

lakesPink lakes by Steve Back

illustration and leaf printIllustration by Eva Juliet               Leaf print by Mariann Johansen Ellis

autumn_001Porcelain petal studs in coral and gold

autumn_013Porcelain tiny leaf studs in coral and gold

autumn_007Porcelain rose studs in coral and gold

Thanks for reading everyone,



Marie Canning image credit: