Little pins with big hearts

As a little girl, I collected owls. Big owls, little owls. And I still have them all lined up on my office shelf. As a slightly older girl – I collect little pins  …. of owls, and robins, and squirrels and hedgehogs.

Little pins are the perfect feature on a jumper, or jacket and so many people comment which makes me feel as happy as an owl in a tree.

I want to introduce you to 3 of my new broochy friends – Sarah Kelly of Shark Alley, Fran Cornish of Pea Green and Blue. and Cat Marple of Miss Marple Makes.  They are all supremely talented and handcraft brooches in completely different ways.


The wordsmiths among you will have realised that Shark Alley is an anagram of Sarah Kelly – how cool is that.  I “almost but not quite” met Brighton based designer-maker Sarah last month at the Country Living Christmas Fayre.  She had a great but exhausting time, but sadly I didn’t make it down to London.  Sarah hand makes all her jewellery in her tiny studio by the sea.

Here’s a fascinating fact about Sarah. Not only was her grandfather was a passionate amateur botanist and photographer and his brother Gilbert corresponded with Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain about the bird life in St James’s Park during the Second World War. Sarah still has these precious letters and his voluminous and ancient bird journal.

Shark Alley was born in 2010 out of Sarah’s passion for jewellery, animals and creating small, beautiful things, using her background in textile and design, colour, pattern and everyday materials.

My first and most beloved Shark Alley brooch is my Tawny Owl. We have a Tawny in the woods next to our home and often hear him hooting at night. I keep hoping I’ll hear Mrs Tawny one night, but he’s all on his lonesome so far.

My cheeky little squirrel reminds me of our early summer break in Squirrel Cottage on the edge of Pitlochry. Seeing a red squirrel for the first time was amazing and we spent the best part of a week peering out at a whole bunch of them running around the forest.  Our hosts had thoughtfully located a feeding station outside every window!

Mr Hedgehog is the latest addition to my Shark Alley collection, gifted from Sarah for our Christmas Gift Guide.

Mr Badger is on my Christmas list, if my family are reading ……


Fran loves to make and create. She describes herself as a designer maker, artist and illustrator at Pea Green & Blue. As well as her lovely brooches, Fran crafts original art, hand sewn felt gifts and hand painted cards.

Pea Green & Blue was born five years ago. Over the last 12 months Fran has opened her Etsy shop and has started selling in a local artisan shop too. The designs are all uniquely based in nature, and often teeny tiny.  Fran sews the brooches and decorations from felt and adds details using embroidery.
I started with this “oh so cute” little owl just because I couldn’t resist. He’s a Tawny, of course and is the teeniest little darling.
The cute Christmas Robin is for my Mum’s christmas stocking. So please don’t tell. She’s a brooch aficionado with a enviable collection dating back to the 60s. Trouble is I’m falling in love with the little fella. Really hope he makes it past the wrapping up stage!
Finally let me introduce Baby Penguin. Everybody shhhhh we don’t want to frighten him. He’s a baby emperor penguin, as seen on the latest David Attenborough top Sunday night viewing. The penguin episode of Dynasties was a tough watch but if you made it to the end you’ll have a new admiration for these incredible birds. Don’t ever complain about the cold again – these babies endure minus 70 most days!
I met Cat Marple and her beautiful creations a few years ago. We were on adjacent stalls at a Victorian Christmas Market and spent the day shivering together in the winter rain.  She’s a regular on the North Wales crafting scene and you’ll find her at all the Christmas fayres. Her handmade quirky and colourful porcelain jewellery and decorations are also on sale at Mostyn Gallery in Llandudno.
Cat’s business was inspired after she moved to the beautiful Ogwen Valley in North Wales. She studied ceramic design in Copenhagen, invested in a kiln and soon began experimenting with porcelain.
Everything is handmade and hand painted. If you catch her at a Christmas Fayre you might see her painting her brooches. She also makes pendant necklaces, earrings, and hanging decorations. Cat’s Scandinavian heritage and her love of 50s-60s illustration shine through her pieces.
I am the proud and happy owner of 3 Miss Marple brooches. A cute dachshund to remind me of our beloved Henry, a festive snowman to cheer me through the winter, and the latest addition – a quirky Christmas robin who will be debuting on a chunky jumper very soon.
I do have my eye on the adorable porcelain owl wrapped up in a cosy scarf. He might be next.
If you watch my IG stories you’ll see my regular #broochoftheday feature. See how many you can spot?
That’s all for now.
Judith xx

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