This month we’ve invited the lovely Willow Crossley owner of Willow Rose Boutique to write us a blog piece on her creative valentine’s supper plans.
Willow specialises in hand making beautiful little treasures using antique fabrics, beautiful beads and enchanting bits and bobs she finds on her travels or near her home in the South of France.
Much of her designs are inspired by her love of flowers, nature, fairies and antiques.

February 14th is one of my favourite days. Chaz asked me out on our first date and again, five years later, asked me to marry him on Valentines Day. So I feel, despite the obviously cheesy connotations with the day, i'm allowed to love it! This year we're not going out for a swanky romantic soiree but staying put at home. I will still obviously be making a big deal of the whole day but it's just going to be a bit more homemade than usual. Chaz is in charge of the culinary side and my job is to make it look as visionary as I can. .

There will be a lot of florals going on - the hellebores in our garden are just coming out and i'm mad about them. From January to March our house tends to look like one big hellebore. The rest of the table will be a vision of pink; the palest pink, vintage linen napkins from Kempton market, dusty pink plates from our time in France, fragile pink sea urchins as salt and pepper holders and my handmade velvet flowery napkin rings. The napkin rings are what I want to share with you - or how to make them at least. This is an extract taken from my first book, The art of handmade living.

Napkin Rings
I’d never even thought about making a napkin ring before I was asked to devise some ideas for Interiors Queen, Nina Campbell. She wanted to expand her range and asked me to come up with several designs that her company might manufacture. It turned out that my ideas were too extravagant to mass produce, but I had an amazing time creating them all.
Posy napkin rings  These are mini versions of the headdresses I made for fifteen little bridesmaids at a friend’s wedding, using wired flowers, tiny wooden bumblebees, and ribbons. Having had all that practice, I simply downsized them to work as napkin rings.

Willow Crossley

Millinery flowers are perfect for the job, as they are usually already wired. It’s lovely to have a mixture of flowers: think about combining silk, velvet, and beaded flowers, as well as leaves. Even little insects or birds on thin wires would work. It’s up to you whether to put decoration just on the top half of the napkin ring, which is all that your guests will see, or all the way around. Here, the napkin ring is formed from the wire stems of the flowers; they are hidden by ribbon in the last step.
1 Choose the flower you want to start with: using one with a long wire will make life easier. Curve the wire around into a small circle, then attach another wired flower next to the first one by wrapping its wire once or twice around the stem of the first flower. Continue until you have the size of circle you need for your napkin ring.
2 When you’ve made the circle shape, keep adding flowers, leaves, and other decorations wherever you want them by wrapping the wire around the main “stem” to hold everything securely together.
3 Leaving a tail at least 2 in. (5 cm) long, tie a knot in the ribbon underneath one of the flowers, so that it’s hidden from view, then wrap the long end of the ribbon around the wire ring, covering up the loose ends and bobbles of wire. I’ve never managed to get them perfectly smooth, but try to cover up the wires so that all you can see is the ribbon. Use a dab of PVA glue here and there to keep the ribbon in place.
4 Finish by tying the ribbon in a small bow or knot on the underside of the napkin ring, using the tail of ribbon left in step 3. Cut off any excess ribbon. What kind of ribbon? Standard satin ribbon is inexpensive and generally wider than silk ribbon, so you’ll need less of it. Very fine silk ribbon is more expensive, but I think it looks so much more beautiful.


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Willow's new book Inspire, is out in March.