Today we go a little alternative on the Blog as I share the work of Grin, Grimace and Squeak who create the most fantastical handmade masquerade masks and accessories.
From carnivals to masquerade balls to parties to Weddings, fantasy comes into play with dramatic, beautiful masks, tiaras , crowns, hair vines, and circlets.
Their masks are available in many colours, all accented with matching glass beads and finished with satin ribbon.
Each piece is individually hand made.
Karen and Rich knew from the first time they met that they wanted to work together.
They both had creative backgrounds and a mutual love of costume made masquerade masks the obvious choice.
As for the business name – Karen drew monsters and when Rich suggested using their names put together, the result sounded like a firm of solicitors.
This was greeted with a round of grins, grimaces and squeaks from the imaginary world, and the name was created.
I spoke to Karen Ruffles about their work…
Who are you, and what do you do?
“We are Karen and Rich, two very lucky people living on the North Yorkshire coast where we work together creating our masks.”
“Our business is all about the good times – weddings, parties and proms so every piece we send out is going to be part of a celebration for someone, and that’s a great feeling.”
“We work mostly in enamelled wire which comes in an amazing range of jewel bright colours and glass seed beads.”
“Everything is done by us from design to sewing on the final ribbons so we have complete control over the whole process and because they are hand made, each piece is unique.”
“The more we work with the wire, the more possibilities we see.”
“We’ve gone from simple masquerade masks to pieces with woven wire horns, brightly coloured plumage and even beaded flowers.”
“We also make crowns, circlets, hair vines and now accessories using the beautiful sea glass we collect from the beach on our walks.”
When and why did you start your Company?
“We started our company almost 5 years ago, after a late night conversation whilst sat in a small London flat.”
“We both had regular 9 to 5 jobs at the time and felt frustrated that we didn’t have time to create together.”
“I’m also an artist and Rich had apprenticed in armoury which might seem an unlikely combination but actually works really well as costumers.”
“We are both goths so enjoy the fun and freedom of dressing up which made masks an obvious choice.”
“We have very different skills and ideas for new pieces yet our collection as a whole has a distinctive feel to it that comes from having such a great partnership.”
What inspires you?
“Because we do a lot of custom work, we inspire our customers and they inspire us.”
“We had a request from someone who had seen our cat masks and wondered if we could create a silver fox on a similar scale.”
“We did and loved it so much we now have a red fox in our shop which has had a great response.”
Do trends influence your Work?
“We’ve noticed over the last few years that more and more couples are choosing to have their wedding reflect their personalities and interests.”
“This has allowed to us have a lot of fun creating masks for gothic and fairytale weddings.”
“We have also started adding more seasonal pieces such as our crowns which come in spring, summer, autumn and winter colours.”
What is your greatest achievement?
“I think the one moment that really stands out for us was the day we got a message from a customer in Australia.”
“We had made a custom circlet for her in silver with a piece of green sea glass to match her wedding outfit.”
“When they opened the box, both the bride to be and her mother burst into tears because it was just what she wanted.”
“I have to say, there was a wobbly lip or two here as well when we heard that – there really is no better feeling than knowing you’ve helped make someone’s big day that bit more special.”
What do you see as the future of your Company?
“We’ve put together a small wholesale collection of masks and crowns which we’d love to see in bridal boutiques but we very much want to continue working one to one with our customers as we don’t want to lose that personal connection.”
“Brides are often concerned about custom orders because they think it might be very complicated and expensive.”
“The great thing about doing everything in house is that we can easily change the colour of wire or beads used in a mask – one tip we give is to send us a snippet of ribbon in the colours they would like so we can match it as closely as possible.”
“They get something unique to them and if it’s to be done in our usual materials, all it’s cost the customer is a few pence worth of ribbon and a stamp.”
“All Grin, Grimace and Squeak! creations come gift boxed to protect your precious new purchase.”
Thank you so much to Grin, Grimace and Squeak for sharing their incredible masquerade masks and original designs on the Blog today.
Perhaps you are a Bride and Groom who like the Goth look, perhaps you love that drama of a statement creation, perhaps you are having an alternative Wedding or one with a masquerade ball theme, then Grin, Grimace and squeak would be a great starting point.
Similarly with a whimsical or medieval theme the circlets would be perfect.
To Contact Grin, Grimace and Squeak