A few weeks ago, I received a very exciting invitation sent on behalf of The Rt Hon the Lord Janvrin, inviting me to a lunchtime reception at the House of Lords on Thursday, 13 July.

The reception to mark the launch of an independent economic impact report by the British Library’s Business & IP Centre Network, entitled “Democratising Entrepreneurship 2.0: libraries as engines of economic recovery and growth”, was held in the Cholmondeley Room. It was an opportunity to hear the report’s highlights and meet some other BIPC entrepreneurs who, like me, have benefitted from the services of the BIPC and their resident experts.

I decided that this invitation deserved new headpieces for both Sarah Turnbull of the BIPC North East and me, who, along with two other North East BIPC’ers, were attending the reception.

The new headpieces were to be made in the local colours synonymous with Newcastle and Northumberland, using vintage and recycled materials. So, what better block to use than the new, easy and comfortable to wear? 

After blocking in the halo in buckram, it was time to tackle disassembling the charity shop buy – a vintage straw – which fortunately had had a very careful owner. 

After the buckram was blocked and wired, the straw was cut and blocked; I started by blocking the outer halo, so after finishing the edge with Petersham, next it’s onto the trimming.  

As I had decided on a Newcastle/Northumberland theme – black and white and orange accents – I was delighted to find some vintage wired ombre ribbon in my stash (which, for milliners, is bottomless!).

Decoration progressed quite well, and then I started working on the second piece too, a contemporary turban style, using black and white gingham check vintage roses (reminiscent of the Northumberland tartan) set on black silk abaca for Sarah to wear. 

The feathers were curled, and after attaching Swarovski diamante to Sarah’s piece, the blocked straw lining was finally inserted into my headpiece. 

So, both pieces were finished just in time for the very exciting trip to the House of Lords to hear all about the new report and to meet the other BIPC’ers.

So, what do you think of the new block and the piece I made using it? I have christened her Olivia, and here she is, looking smart and ready for an outing! 

Olivia – a vintage black straw handmade halo, finished with vintage ribbon roses and coqué feathers and attached with a couture hat elastic – is now available on my website.

And here, too, is Ava – a black silk abaca headband finished with a pair of vintage black and white gingham roses, a contrast twisted quill, and Swarovski diamanté highlights. 

And not to be forgotten, the two men in our party have matching buttonholes, just glimpsed here at the back of the hat box.