Claire Mackaness


Claire is a self-taught crafter and seamstress who since leaving college in 1999 and joining the workforce has always been dabbling in one craft or another.

As well as working Full Time and subsequently having two children, she has moved around the craft fair circuit since 2002 selling all manner of crafts from glass painting, handmade cards, soaps and bath bombs and more recently vintage inspired textile gifts and home wares.

Following redundancy in 2010 Claire has been teaching sewing and crafts full time, starting from her home and more recently moving on to teach at her own studio, Beautiful Things HQ in Brentwood.


Elspeth Corrie


Elspeth has been a regular pupil at BTHQ since 2012 learning to crochet and sew with Claire.  She has a particular passion for dressmaking and enjoys working with jersey and knit fabrics especially.

Elspeths background is secondary education where she specialised in languages and she now works as a private tutor.  She has a passion for sharing knowledge and enjoys seeing people learning new skills.

In her spare time Elspeth likes to paint and draw and is particularly fond of her two pussy cats who often make an appearance in her sketches and work she does at BTHQ.


Helen Smith


Helen has been creating kiln formed glass since 2005 following a 10 month course in London, and many subsequent workshops in additional glass techniques.  In 2006 she was selected as a member of The Guild of Essex Craftsmen and regularly attends their craft fairs to exhibit her glass work and demonstrate glass making skills.

She then took the plunge to become a full time glass artist after 11 yrs as a secondary school art teacher and she is keen to pass on her knowledge of working with glass. Helen has been teaching Glass Fusing workshops for over 6 years and has several ‘addicted’ students who have gone on to buy their own kilns!

Helen also teaches art classes and childrens stop frame animation sessions amongst many other creative pursuits

Maria Spiller


In early 2009 aware that she was about to be made redundant, Maria was approached by a local sewing shop, to tutor patchwork and quilting.

This she did, hoping it would take off but thinking it was more likely something to ‘fill in’ until she found new permanent employment. It did both!

In addition to  many years hands-on sewing experience Maria has recently completed C&G Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector Level 4 Certificate and is currently studying for her C&G Patchwork & Quilting Level 3 Certificate with a view to following on with the Diploma.

Christine Phillips

Studio Support Technician

Christine has always enjoyed crafts, starting early with an obsession for stationary and in later life enjoying knitting and cross stitch.

She enjoys sharing her daughter Claire’s passion for crafts and has subsequently gone on to learn cardmaking and scrapbooking and has more recently re-acquainted herself with a crochet hook.

Christine loves nothing more than to potter about Beautiful Things HQ, cutting things out, preparing for classes and generally keeping up with all the little jobs that Claire hates.  With a love of gardening you can be sure that our pots will look splendid in the spring and summer months.

She’s a perfect support technician really!

Christine Mackaness

Project Co-ordinator

Christine is a self confessed fabric addict with a passion for patchwork and quilting.

She shares her time between the UK and Australia and belongs to 3 local sewing clubs here in the UK and numerous other groups down under.

She can often be found in HQ testing out projects and creating samples for classes as well as running our patchwork and sewing clubs.

Stuart Mackaness

Operations Manager

Stuart does not have a crafty bone in his body………but he does have a fantastic business brain.

During his career as both an Operations Manager and Retail Manager he has gained all the experience needed to keep Claire’s feet on the ground when it comes to ‘business’ allowing her to concentrate on all the creative ‘stuff’!