Ema Hossain Design Portfolio

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Bejewelled Treasures : The Al Thani Collection at the V&A museum

This stunning collection with more than 100 objects owned by Sheikh Hamad Bin Abdullah Al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family, have been loaned to the V&A for the show, which explores 400 years of Indian jewellery. It is being staged as part of  the V&A  India Festival and is sponsored by Wartski.

Highlights include Mughul Jades, jewelled finial from the throne of Tipu Sultan and modern pieces which serve to illustrate how designs and tastes changed over time. It showcases also how Indian style had an influence on avante garde European jewellery designs made by leading houses like Cartier and how modern pieces by JAR and Bhagat are inspired by a fusion of Mughal motifs and Art deco designs with an Indian twist. 

The collection also includes 3 major loans from the Royal Collection, lent by Her Majesty The Queen which are the Nabha Spinel, a jewelled bird (Huma bird) from the canopy of Tipu Sultan's Throne and the 'Timur Ruby'.

The Nabha Spinel

The Nabha spinel, 1608-09. Spinel, seed pearls, gold thread. Royal Collection Trust
© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015 
Spinel is a gemstone that comes in different colours with the purest form being colourless. The most desirable colours are the deep blood reds. They are also blue, orange pink and purple and it is hard and has clarity which makes it great for jewellery. 

The Huma bird from Tipu Sultan's throne canopy 

The defeat and death of Tipu, Sultan of Mysore  in 1799 led to the Sultan’s magnificent treasury and library being ransacked by the British forces, and the gold coverings of his throne were cut up into small pieces for distribution as prize. The throne was surrounded by a railing with a small jewelled tiger head above each support, and surmounted by a canopy raised on a post at the back. In the front was a life-size tiger head (later presented to William IV, now at Windsor Castle). Above the canopy hovered the huma or bird of paradise. It was ‘supposed to fly constantly in the Air, and never to touch the ground. It is looked upon as a Bird of happy Omen, and that every Head it overshadows will in time wear a Crown’. After the breaking up of the throne the Huma bird was eventually acquired and presented to George III and thus now is part of the Royal collection. 

Only one sketch by an artist who actually saw the throne exists today. This is titled the ‘Front view of the throne of the late Tippo Sultun’, and drawn by Thomas Marriot, ADC to the Commander-in-Chief, Madras dated 6 August 1799. Thomas Marriott preceded provided one of the few eyewitness accounts and pictorial representations of Tipu’s throne before it was broken up on the orders of the Prize Committee. In the drawing you can see where the bird would have sat at the top of the canopy. 

Close up of the beautiful gemstone detail of the Huma bird

Bird of Paradise from Tipu Sultan's throne, circa 1787-91 from the Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015 Bridgeman Image
The Timur Ruby

The Timur ruby came directly to Queen Victoria from India in 1850.  The ruby which is actual spinel rather than ruby, weighs 352.5 carats and with the smaller spinels were set by Garrads into an orient inspired necklace in 1853. The stone has historical links to the Mughal Emperors as proven with the inscriptions on it between 1612 and 1771. The connection with the great Asian conqueror Timur arose from a misreading of the inscriptions, but it's possible that Timur's inscription was erased. 

Jewels from the Al Thani private collection

The Crescent moon emerald was gifted to Anita Delgado, Princess of Kapurthala by her husband

Crescent Emerald with Diamonds, c 1910 Paris

the Maharajah of Kapurthala. She had seen it as part of a decoration on an elephant and she fell in love with it and it became her favourite jewel.
Here is photo of her wearing the Crescent Emerald 

The peacock aigrette

Peacock corsage or hair ornament (aigrette) Gold Diamond and Enamel, Meller, Paris 1910
This is another of the jewels gifted to his young bride by the Maharajah at their civil wedding ceremony.

Ruby choker

Ruby choker which the Maharajah of Patiala commissioned Cartier to design in 1931

Turban decorations

Turban decoration with hanging spinels

Pearl and spinel earrings 

Pearl, spinel & diamond earrings by JAR, Paris 2010

Pearl and spinel necklace

Spinel and pearl necklace from the Mughal Empire. The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited 2014. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd 

Turban decoration

Diamond turban jewel made for the Maharaja of Nawanagar in 1907; remodelled in 1935. The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited 2014. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd 

Pendant Brooch

Pendant brooch set with diamonds and rubies by Bhagat, Mumbai. The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited 2014. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd 

Jade crutch handle 

Jade crutch handle with precious stones set in gold, 18th century, from the Mughal Empire. The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited 2014. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd 

Ceremonial sword

Ceremonial sword with jewelled gold hilt, Hyderabad, South India, c. 1880-1900

Dagger with jade hilt, Mughal Empire, c. 1629-36 this jade-hilted dagger belonged to the Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal 

Gold finial from Tipu Sultan’s throne, circa 1790-1800. The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited 2014. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd 

Sword sash

Gold and diamond hair ornament, circa 1900. The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited 2014. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd 

This video by Jewellery Editor is worth a watch, it explains some of the pieces in this collection

Artistic and creative Easter Eggs

Artisan chocolatiers now see Easter as an excuse to show off just how far they can push chocolate’s capabilities and the results are often truly beautiful works of edible art. 

I'm always excited when these Artisan Easter eggs hit the shops. I like to see intricate and interesting the creative talent that goes into making them. My favourites from this year are in shown below. 

Betty's Imperial Easter Egg (Betty and Taylor's of Harrogate) 

This egg is beautifully made and decorated by hand with spring flowers. It is named after the Imperial Suite in the tea rooms. The large 5kg egg costs £250
 Photos from website and telegraph , 
You can see a video on how this egg is made in this link 


Photo from mugmag.co.uk

Golden Lattice Egg (Marks and Spencer) 

There is also another giant version of the lattice egg which has more detail with a smaller lattice egg inside the larger one an decorative edging.

Photo by Andrew Crowley 

Again a limited edition with 7500 eggs made. Each design is hand piped with a velvety milk chocolate into special moulds. The gold beads are added by hand. The eggs which are 1Kg in weight then have a dusting of edible gold luster colouring added. The egg costs £40.

Single Origin Cocoa Pod (Marks and Spencer) 

 This looks like a cocoa pod. It's flavoured with dark 70 percent Dominican chocolate. They out colouring comes from hand finishing with edible metallic luster food colouring a in red, copper and silver. There is also a selcetion of singke origin mini tasting bars including Ecuadorian dark chocolate to Javan milk chocolate, so a true chocolate connoisseur would enjoy this. The egg costs £12.99. 

Photo from M&S website

The Giant Cosmic Egg (Marks and Spencer) 

This is an interesting design with the unusual colour, circles and golden balls. The egg is inspired by the night sky with it's start dust, golden shimmer and golden spheres filled with dulce de leche. The glaze is made by hand spraying natural colours onto the bespoke mould. This adds to the individuality of each egg. 

Photo from M&S website

The 7,500 limited edition Giant Cosmic Eggs each come with their own number. M&S Chocolate Product Developer Katy Patino says: ‘We’ve been working on perfecting this egg for years and the elaborate structure and time it takes to make it means we can only make a limited number.’ Cost £40.


The Geode Chocolate Rock Egg (Artisan du Chocolat )

Picture by Andrew Crowley

Artisan du Chocolat has made a sparkling geological creation. It has an outer shell made out 100-per-cent dark Dominican Republic chocolate. Inside it has a thick layer of white chocolate. The interesting part is central layer of crunchy sugar cystals looking like crystalline gems. Price is under £20.


The Birth of a Unicorn (Choccywoccydoodah) Very extravagant and creative trio of eggs, each for commission at a price of £25,000 each. Choccywoccydoodah is an art and design focussed chocolaterie based in Brighton. They specialise in sculptured fantasies in cake and chocolate. Their Faberge inspired creations are two sets of egg trios, one inspired by the birth of unicorns (displayed in their Brighton shop window) and the other inspired by the birth of dragons in their London store. Christine Taylorn the owner and creative director says they consider themselves to be joy makers and wanted to make something that was ridiculous but joyful.
Birth of Unicorns by Choccywoccydoodah, photo from their website

Birth of Dragons, by Choccywoccydoodah, photo from their website.

Abstract Egg (by Melt) 
This limited edition egg is crafted to resemble a multicolored stained glass window. Each egg is unique and takes skilled chocolatiers many hours to make. It is filled with their customer favourite crunchy salted squares and costs £120. 

Photo from Melt website 


Exhibition : Black Sheep The Darker side of Felt

When I think of my own the craft uses of felt, I usually think of cute and pretty decorative or useful items such as felt decorations, flowers, pencil cases and small bags but felt is an amazing material. It doesn't fray and can be matted together by needling and rubbing techniques thus being a great medium for creatives and artists. The designs and creations can be very interesting, elaborate and inspiring, especially if they are three dimensional. 

Forty Hall currently has an exhibition called 'Black Sheep: The Darker Side of Felt.
This touring exhibition from the  National Centre for Craft and Design, Sleaford, UK brings together textile artists who have used felt to create unexpected, often strange but technically amazing pieces made of felt art work.  The work included 3D sculptures and designs which move away from the idea of felt as a flat sheet material and demonstrate the seamless way amazing sculptures can be created with felt.

The artists : 

Barbara Keal
Elodie Antoine
Gladys Paulus
Horst Couture
Marjolein Dallinga
Stephanie Metz 
Maria Friese

It is currently on at Forty Hall & Estate, it started in January and can be seen until 8th May 2016 before it moves on.   

This  piece is called 'Icelandic Ram' by Barbara Keal, photo by Philip Volkers

Animal hood sculpture installation by Barbara Kael, photo Scott Murry

Stag Hood by Barbara Kael, photo Scott Murry

Barbara Keal is an East Sussex based artist who is inspired by real and imaginary animals. Her hoods combine sculpture, craft design and fashion.

Horst Couture's felt gowns are one of a kind designs by Thomas Horst.

Horst Coutre felt dresses, photo by Scott Murry  
Horst Couture gowns, photo by Scott Murry

Felt Teddy bear skull by Stephanie Metz

Trio of Skulls by Stephanie Metz

Stephanie Metz is a Californian artist who has created a Teddy Bear Skull series. She is inspired by the natural world but more interested in the overly domesticated creatures. She created Teddy Ruxpin as part of her series.

Marjolein Dallinga is Dutch Canadian and created this moss sculpture. 

Sculpture by Marjolein Dallinga, photo by Scott Murry

Gladys Paulus is from the Netherlands and her work demonstrates a balance between simplicity and complexity and she gets inspiration from her European and Indonesian heritage.

Holy Bowls by Gladys Paulus, photo from gladyspaulus.co.uk

Elodie Antoine’s work consists of experimental felt creations that look  scientific and biological. 

Grands Feutres Tranch├ęs was originally made and exhibited for a gallery that was formerly an ancient Butcher shop. The shapes are  reminiscent of pieces of meat.  

Grands Feutres Tranches by Elodie Antoine, photo Scott Murry

Table avec Feutres Tranch├ęs is an installation of different felt pieces, open for interpretation they could be meat delicatessen pieces or organs. 

Table Alec Fuetres Tranches by Elodie Antoine, photo Scott Murry

Find out more about this exhibition here https://blacksheepfelt.wordpress.com/about/

Inspirations from the Spring Knitting and stitching show

I love going to the Knitting and Stitching show to see the textile exhibits. At this years Spring Knitting and Sitching show, I met a textile designers who really inspired me. 

Mary Sleigh was exhibiting with Jan Miller who used textiles. I didn't get to meet Jan but had a chance to ask Mary about her work and inspirations. She had some wonderful work displayed using found objects from the Norfolk coast. 

I particularly liked the books she made with prints of sea inspired designs 

Books by Mary Sleigh

Books & leather pouches by Mary Sleigh 

I also loved the little cane egg like cages she had made with found objects that had been painted gold. 

Art work by Mary Sleigh

This work is part of Mary Sleigh's current project 'Keeping Safe'

You can find out more about Mary Sleigh from her website 


I was also inspired by talking to another textile artist Louise Baldwin. 
Louise's work is colourful and uses the treads and fabric textures to create interesting artworks.

Textile art by Louise Baldwin

Textile work by Louise Baldwin

I particularly liked her textile work with stitched portraits. 

Textile art by Louise Baldwin

We talked about how much practice it takes to get portraits right and I was inspired to have a go, so I bought some black silk thread to try out this technique soon. 

You can find out more about Louise Baldwin here