House of Commons

We were recently asked by the House of Commons to design a range of products for their new gift shop. The range which is exclusive to the Jubilee gift shop includes three necklaces, a brooch, stud earrings, two bangles, cufflinks and a tie pin. The designs include the iconic Big Ben and the decorative floral design associated with Architect Augustus W. N. Pugin. 

All of the products can now be purchased exclusively at the Jubilee Gift Shop within Westminster Hall. 

Festival of Love

During the months of July and August, Southbank Centre will host its annual festival, this year taking on the theme of Love. Celebrating the Same Sex Couple Act, Festival of Love will bring together hundreds of artists, communities and partners to offer an exciting and varied programme of free events, themed weekends, performances, poetry, talks and pop-ups.

We were asked by Southbank Centre to supply the gift shop with a selection of our personalised products. Very fitting to the theme of the festival the Mini Love Letter Necklace, Large Love Letter Necklace and the Envelope Cufflinks are available for customers to order personalised from the gift shop.

The festival runs until Sunday 31 August 2014 and is well worth a visit. We love how colourful the Southbank looks with all the neon installations! 

Rock the House

We were recently asked by our local MP and founder of the Rock the House competition, Mike Weatherley, to make personalised plectrums for the finalists of the competition. The competition final took place last night within the House of Commons and we were lucky enough to be invited! 

Rock the House is Parliament's biggest music competition, raising awareness about intellectual property rights and the importance of live music. More information about the competition can be found here.


In April, Sarah was lucky enough to take the trip of a lifetime to the beautiful country of Japan. Writing with a severe case of the holiday blues here's her best bits...

'I've always wanted to visit Japan to explore its national parks, wildlife, Edo period architecture and of course the sweeping metropolis of Tokyo. Though we enjoyed the larger cities of Tokyo and Kyoto it was the vast and beautiful countryside that really caught us. We climbed mountains, avoided bears, drank sake, rarely knew what it was we were ordering (or eating!) and met some of the warmest and most hospitable people we have ever had the privilege of meeting.'

Above: all photos taken in and around the Nikko national Park. (easily accessed by train from Tokyo within 3 hours but make the most of it and stay the night in a traditional Ryokan guest house)

From top left: Five story pagoda, Nikko / Futarasan Shrine, Nikko / Restored Edo period housing, Tsumago, Kiso Valley / Shinkyo Bridge, Nikko

From top left: Bird spotting in Magome, Kiso Valley / Beautiful spring cherry blossom, Tokyo / Hand painted screens in our Ryokan (Japanese style guest house) on the Island of Naoshima  / The view from our riverside hostel in Nikko national park

'By far the highlight of the trip for me, the beautiful island of Naoshima. Dubbed 'Art Island' it is covered in land sculptures and installations, like the giant pumpkin by artist Yayoi Kusama. If like me you are partial to a bit of polished concrete don't miss Benesse House, a beautiful building housing some of the best names in contemporary art. The island is also home to a fantastic public bath (photo top left), designed by artist Shinro Ohtake the male and female sections of the 'Naoshima Bath I♥' are divided by a giant elephant statue! 

Overall Japan, you have warmed our hearts and changed us for the better.

We will be back!'

Father's Day Gift Guide

With less than two weeks until Father's day we thought we would give you a helping hand to find a perfect present for a very special (and almost always impossible to buy for) dad. We have put together our favourite father's day gifts, everything from moustache care kits to edible hammers, all of which are available to buy now online!

From top left: Personalised Transparent Photo Frame, Oakdene Designs, £12.75 / Wooden Handprint Tie Clip, Maria Allen Boutique, £35  / Dad & Me veg seeds starter pack, Seed Pantry, £48.75 / Chocolate Club Hammer, Schokolate, £15.65

Dad's Pop-up Pub hamper, Whisk Hampers, £24 / Personalised Envelope Cufflinks, Maria Allen Boutique, from £48 / Stag Hanky Box, Thornback & Peel, £18.50, Moustache Grooming Kit, Mens Society, £20

Summer collection

We've been busy creating some lovely new summer additions, all of which were launched at Pulse trade show at the beginning of May. Now we are happy to announce that they are available to buy online at!

Geometric Fox Brooch / Geometric Bear Brooch / Rose Dachshund Brooch / Made from cherry wood veneer, £18 each.

Albert Mews May Open House

Our friends over at Albert Mews studio in Hove are currently exhibiting their work alongside several other very talented artists throughout May. We visited them recently and here is a preview of the exciting range of work you will see there... 

You can visit the studio in Hove every weekend in May and choose from a selection of beautiful handmade products. They are located at 11 Albert Mews, Third Ave, Hove, BN3 2PP. We hope you get a chance to visit! You can keep up to date with Albert Mews Studio on their Facebook page here.

Maria's Pecan Pie

We thought we'd share this mouthwatering pecan pie recipe with you (as there is very little of the actually pie left to share). Now for another slice - well it is wholemeal isn't it?

You can use a shop bought shortcrust pastry base but I preferred to make it myself with 
wholemeal flour. I also substituted golden syrup with maple syrup.

Shortcrust pastry ingredients
·       125g/4oz wholemeal flour
·       pinch of salt
·       55g/2oz butter, cubed
·       30-45ml/2-3 tbsp cold water
·       Flan / cake tin

Preparation method for shortcrust pastry

1.     Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and add the cubes of butter.
2.     Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until you have a mixture that resembles coarse breadcrumbs with no large lumps of butter remaining. Try to work quickly so that it does not become greasy.
3.     Using a knife, stir in just enough of the cold water to bind the dough together.
4.     Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 10-15 minutes before using.
5.     Alternatively using a food processor, put the flour, butter and salt in the food processor and pulse until the fat is rubbed into the flour.
6.     With the motor running, gradually add the water through the funnel until the dough comes together. Only add enough water to bind it and then stop.
7.     Wrap the dough in clingfilm as before and chill for 10-15 minutes before using.
8.     Preheat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas Mark 6.
9.     Roll out the dough until it is larger than the size of the flan tin and line the tin with the pastry, pressing gently into base, sides and rim. Prick the base several times with a fork.
10.   Place a sheet of baking parchment onto the pastry and weigh down with baking beans or dried lentils. Bake for 10 minutes then remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Pecan Pie Ingredients
·       110g/4oz unsalted butter
·       110g/4oz maple syrup
·       1 tsp vanilla extract
·       225g/8oz brown sugar
·       3 free-range eggs, beaten
·       shortcrust pastry (from recipe above)
·       285g/10oz pecan nuts, halved

Preparation method

1.     Turn the oven temperature down to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2.     Place the butter, golden syrup, vanilla extract and sugar into a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat.
3.     When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 5-10 minutes.
4.     Add the beaten eggs to the mixture and stir well.
5.     Set aside a small handful of the pecan nuts. Arrange the remaining pecan halves evenly in the pastry case and carefully pour over the syrup mixture.
6.     Place into the preheated oven and bake for 40-50 minutes - the pie will be golden-brown, but the filling should still be slightly soft.
7.     Leave the pie to cool on a wire tray. As the pie begins to set, decorate the top with the reserved pecan halves. Serve in slices.

The main pecan pie recipe was adapted from

Royal Academy of Arts Collection

We were delighted to be asked by the Royal Academy of Arts to make a collection for their latest exhibition "Renaissance Impressions". The exhibition opened on 15th March and runs until the 8th June 2014. It brings together 150 of the rarest and most exquisite Chiaroscuro woodcuts in celebration of this forgotten art form. For further information about the exhibition please visit the Royal Academy website.

A visit to the exhibition comes highly recommended by Maria who was lucky enough to receive an invite to the opening night. Here are a few photos from the evening, including our exclusive RA collection created here at the Maria Allen Boutique studio and on display in the RA gift shop!

The collection is available to buy both in the RA gift shop and online and includes:

Chiaroscuro Cherub Necklace - £35 - Laser etched cherry wood necklace depicting a detail from Hans Wechtlin's chiaroscuro print of the Virgin and Child.

Chiaroscuro Coasters x 4 Procession - £40 - A set of four laser etched cherry wood coasters, taken from the chiaroscuro prints of Andrea Andreani, after Mantegna, the designs are from The Triumph of Julius Caesar and depict the Elephants and The Trophy Bearers.

Chiaroscuro Albrecht Durer Rhinoceros Brooch - £25 - Laser etched cherry wood brooch of a rhinoceros taken from an original image by Albrecht Durer.

Vienna & Salzburg

At the start of the year Maria took a trip to Austria and amongst much time spent frolicking in the mountains to The Sound of Music soundtrack, also took these lovely photos of Vienna, Salzburg and the surrounding countryside.

Salzburg - Mountain view / Cuckoo clocks for sale / Makartsteg pedestrian Bridge - Love locks / View of the Makartsteg pedestrian Bridge

Mondsee Abbey / Interior of Mondsee Abbey / Mirabell Gardens - all locations in which The Sound of Music was filmed!

Vienna - Austrian Parliament building / Pirker : Honey gingerbread shop / A. Katzer  gift shop / St. Stephen's Cathedral

Here in the studio we believe it's never too early to start thinking about all the lovely mums (our own included!), so we've been hard at work designing some special new necklaces for this Mother's day, Sunday 30th March.

*  *  *

First up - our new storybook lockets, beautifully gold plated and hanging on delicate gold filled chains these necklaces can be personalised with up to three words on either side and can even include a hand or footprint. Prices start from £55 for the Personalised Storybook Locket and £64 for the Handprint Storybook Locket.

Our secret message necklaces come in two styles and are made from beautifully laser etched cherry wood. These necklaces can be personalised on the reverse adding a special secret message between you and the recipient. Both simple designs hang elegantly on 18 inch 14k gold filled chain and cost £40. You can find these online by following these links - (left) Secret message heart necklace & (right) Personalised woodgrain heart necklace

All of our necklaces arrive beautifully boxed, bowed and ready for gift giving!


Maria saw in the new year in the lovely city of prague! Here are some photos from her trip along with some recommended sweet-treats...

View across the city // Prague Astronomical Clock // Gingerbread cookies: Gingerbread Museum // Trdelnik - (Rolled Pastries) being cooked at the markets
The beautiful cafe Bakeshop (highly recommended!) // The John Lennon Wall
 Decorative gate / Wenceslas Square  

Our Valentine's gift guide

Listen up, Valentine's day is just 9 days away - whether you are looking for something for him or for her we have put together a collection of our favourite gifts available on the web! (hint hint!)

For her

Hidden heart mittens - EKA - £32 / Personalised polaroid style cards - Instajunction - £9.99  / Handwritten mini love letter necklace (by us!) - £64 / Mink Hummingbird watch - Olivia Burton - £72

For him

Personalised "I promise" cards - I promise £9.50 / Personalised heart & initial plectrum - (by us!) £25 / "We're good together" chocolate bars - The Chocolate Library £9.99 / Personalised location jigsaw puzzle - The Little Boys Room £35

For the home

Personalised giant photo booth print - The Drifting Bear co. £65 / My side your side pillow cases - Twisted Twee £26 / Spread the love butter knife - Cutlery Commission £14 / Bespoke valentine's map heart - Bombus £45

Valentine's product launch

With Valentine's day just around the corner we are gearing ourselves up to help keep wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends and the secretly admired, happy in the loving spirit of Saint Valentine.

To add something extra special to our popular mini love letter necklace and envelope cufflinks we have launched a new handwritten option. You can now personalise the wooden messages inside the envelopes with your own or your loved one's handwriting. This would be a particularly special gift for anyone who is unable to be with their loved one this Valentine's and a great way to pop the question!

Do you have any interesting stories relating to our products that you would like to share with us? We love to hear who our products are going to and under what circumstances. If you would like to share your story please email us at and we will feature the top stories on our blog and facebook page. 


In 2013 we were lucky enough to visit some great European cities and we were so inspired that we have decided to launch some new skyline products to celebrate these lovely places!

In November Sarah visited Berlin. "Having lived there for some time it was great to re-visit old friends, pop into my favourite cafes and pick up a vintage bargain (or two!) at one of the city's renowned flea markets. Here are some photos from my trip and our new Berlin inspired skyline products!"

Top left: Entweder oder cafe, Oderberger Straße 15 / top right: 142 Brunnenstrasse / bottom left: Kauf dich glucklich, Oderberger Strasse 44, bottom right: Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

Top left and right: Mauerpark flea market / bottom left: Cafe Cinema, Rosenthaler Straße 39 / bottom right: VEBorange vintage shop

Top left: View from Alexanderplatz of Fernsehturm / top right: Berlin Ubahn / bottom left: Charlottenburg, Kurfürstendamm / bottom right: Photoautomat machine Platoon Kunsthalle

Berlin skyline designs are now available to buy online as cufflinks or as a keyring. If you have been anywhere great and would like to remember your trip with one of our skyline products, just let us know and we will see what we can do! Happy travels everyone!