‘Mary’-making with Mary

In today’s blog, we are getting into the festive spirit and bringing you some of the best entries of our ‘Mary Queen of Scots Christmas Ornament Craft Challenge’. We asked people to make their own Mary-inspired Christmas ornaments and we are very impressed with the results and glad to hear how much everyone enjoyed the merry Mary-making challenge!

Anne Dulau-Beveridge (Curator at The Hunterian and co-lead on the Memorialising Mary project) and her daughter, Amelia, kickstarted the challenge earlier this month with their fantastic ornament.

They did lots of research on portraits of Mary and the clothes she wore and finally decided to use red wool for Mary’s hair, and a lace doily and pearl beads for her headdress. Some tartan cloth helped fashion her dress and signal Mary’s Scottish identity. Mary was a devout Catholic they added a crucifix as the final, authentic finishing touch!

Elisabeth Manson (the President of the Marie Stuart Society) made two ornaments for the challenge and used decoupage in different ways. The first ornament brings together Mary’s French and Scottish identities (with the French flag and the Scottish tartan) and tops the ornament with a crown. As Elisabeth notes, it symbolises that Mary was “Queen of two countries that I think she loved equally.”

For the second ornament, Elisabeth used Mary’s iconic black French hood one, which was initially going to be more abstract because Elisabeth believes Stephen Reid’s theory that this iconic style is all that is needed to make a Mary-object recognisable as Mary Queen of Scots to a modern audience.

To make the face, Elisabeth looked for inspiration in one of the colouring-in- books that she has for school activities. This face fit the shape of the ornament perfectly so she cut it out and stuck it on. Unearthing odd items such as some spare mohair wool and a single stray paper doily in her sideboard, helped her make the hair and the fantastic lace detail on the headdress and collar. The pearl earrings (just visible on the right ear) were the final, inspired touch!

Our next response comes from Klara Frančić who is studying for a MSc Clinical Genetics at the University of Glasgow and decided to participate in the challenge because it was a opportunity to read more about Mary Queen of Scots, the Memorialisation project and have fun at the same time. Klara helps her nieces in Croatia make new Christmas ornaments every year– this year she is with her family in Croatia, and wanted to introduce them to Scottish history and make extra special ornaments 🙂

Paper dollies are a popular material, but Klara also got creative with her use of pearl shaped buttons for Mary’s headdress.

Our next entry comes from Mary Mclernon, who says: “I occasionally enjoy crafts but mostly I research Scottish history, and have always been fascinated by Mary Queen of Scots.” Mary (Mclernon) took inspiration from the motto of Mary Queen of Scots: “In my end is my beginning” and the possible meaning of that statement. According to the website of The Marie Stuart Society, the motto “symbolises the eternity of life after death and Mary Stuart probably drew her inspiration from the emblem adopted by her Grandfather-in-law Francois I of France: the salamander. The salamander self-ignites at the end of its life, and then rises up from the ashes re-born.”

Being re-born, reminded Mary (Mclernon) of the stars (and the Mary Queen of Scots Memorialisation project) and she based her ornament on this central idea: the ornament places a photograph of the portrait of a young Mary Queen of Scots (taken by Mary Mclernon in the Provands Lordship in Glasgow) within a larger star and uses pearls, gems and a fur feather to signify her Royal status.

Although the quality of the photograph is not as good Mary (Mclernon) would have liked (the printing machine that she normally uses in Boots the chemist was closed due to Covid and she had to use her home printer instead) we think that her ornament is a fantastic crafty response to the challenge!

Thank you to everyone who took part in the craft challenge – we are so impressed with how much thought everyone put into the challenge and have enjoyed seeing how everyone responded in different ways. We hope you enjoyed the festive process of making the ornaments and you Mary decorations find a home on your Christmas trees – ‘Mary’ Christmas everyone!

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