Misshapes: The Making of Tatty Devine

Entrance to the exhibition

The UK jewellery brand Tatty Devine turns 20 this year, and to celebrate has launched a touring exhibition, Misshapes: The Making of Tatty Devine, which kicks off in London before visiting various cities around the UK. As a longtime fan of the brand, I paid a visit on its first day.

Early examples of TD's work

The free exhibition, hosted at the Lethaby Gallery, King’s Cross, tells the story of how Tatty Devine founders Rosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine met at Chelsea College of Art and began to work together, making jewellery out of guitar plectrums, leather samples and other bits of so-called “junk”, running a market stall selling their wares, and eventually, after a trip to New York, settling on acrylic as their main material. With the aid of a laser cutter, they began making jewellery from this versatile substance, and over the years have refined their techniques, pushing the boundaries of what acrylic can do.

New examples of the brand's work

I was interested to see examples of the pair’s early work, as this was long before I became a fan of the brand. Some of the early pieces were pretty cool – I wouldn’t mind a keyboard belt. I also didn’t know that the Tatty Devine logo was supposed to resemble the logos in old-style 50s records.

Plan for the archway of stars in Greenwich

Examples of pieces from every stage of the brand’s heritage were on display. I did find myself with a big wave of Tatty regret as I viewed pieces that have long since vanished from stores (especially the fortune teller statement). However, I also saw a couple of pieces that I do own – one being the William Morris brooch.

I really loved the exhibition as a big fan of the brand. After its stint in London, it will visit various venues around the country – so keep an eye out!

Giant jewellery shapes

Tatty Devine Sequin Necklace Workshop

I recently signed up for another jewellery-making workshop with Tatty Devine: this time to make a sequin necklace. I made my way to the Brick Lane store on Saturday morning. Last time I was here, it was during the evening and we were offered wine and nibbles; now, we got cups of tea and chocolate brownies, perfect to cheer us up after the rather dreadful weather outside.

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The first step was to choose our sequins. This was incredibly difficult as there were so many lovely colours to choose from. Eventually I went for a rainbow effect, and chose a gold chain to add a bit of bling.

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Next, it was time to assemble the necklace. After doing several of these workshops I have just about got the hang of attaching jump rings to pieces of perspex, but I still found it slightly tricky.

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Once this was done, it was time to cut and attach the chain, before placing the necklace inside a Tatty Devine box to take home. I’m looking forward to wearing my necklace over Christmas!

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Tatty Devine Parakeet Necklace Workshop

For my birthday in July I got some money from my auntie and I decided to spend it on a jewellery-making workshop at Tatty Devine. I really enjoyed the previous workshop I took part in – a charm bracelet, which I made last year – and this one appealed to me because it involved making a parakeet necklace.

The red multi parakeet has been on my wishlist for months, but it’s near-impossible to get hold of one these days. However, the jewel-toned colours of this unique workshop design are gorgeous too. I signed up for the Wednesday evening workshop at the end of August.

The workshop was held at Tatty Devine’s Brick Lane store, so I headed there after work. I got there in plenty of time and was able to admire their relatively new workshop space.

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I was offered a glass of rosé while I waited for the others to arrive. As they all trooped in we sat down and began to lay out our parakeet pieces on the handy template.

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We then had to peel a little of the protective film off each piece to ensure the parts were facing the right way – obviously I’d managed to get some of mine the wrong way round so this step was much needed!

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To turn our feathers into a beautiful parakeet, we then needed to use two pairs of pliers to open up a jump ring, slide one, then two feathers onto it (making sure they were the right way around), before closing the jump ring. On the advice of the lovely Tatty staff I put together one wing, then another, before joining them up to the parakeet body.

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After my parakeet was complete, it was time to attach the chain. I chose a silver chain, and as instructed, cut it in half, fixed jump rings to either end, and attached the chain to the parakeet.

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I had a lovely time putting my parakeet together; it was tricky but I think I got the hang of it fairly quickly. It definitely helped that I had done a workshop before, and I really enjoyed chatting to other Tatty fans. I drank a couple of glasses of wine too – slowly, though – wine and pliers don’t really mix! I took my parakeet home in a Tatty Devine box to keep it safe.

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Interested in a Tatty Devine workshop? Workshop dates are announced frequently and you can make all sorts of interesting things. You can find details at tattydevine.com/workshops.

Tatty Devine Charm Bracelet Workshop

I love Tatty Devine and I’ve wanted to go to one of their jewellery-making workshops for ages. I signed up for a Charm Bracelet Workshop at their store on Brick Lane, and went along one Sunday morning.

To make the bracelet, we could choose a silver or gold chain – I chose silver. We then had the task of choosing ten charms to add to it. I had lots of trouble choosing charms as there were so many lovely ones and I just couldn’t decide. In the end I went for a mixture of styles and colours, though several others there chose a theme for their bracelet – one woman went for a gold chain with gold and tortoiseshell charms, which looked really lovely.

The next bit was adding the charms to the bracelet. We used pliers to open the charm rings, thread the charm and add the ring to the bracelet. This was fiddly, but easier than I’d expected. The shop staff who were helping us were really helpful and friendly and they tightened all our charms for us to stop them falling off!

I was very pleased with my finished product and I hope I get the chance to go to another workshop in the future.

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Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore – Embankment Galleries, Somerset House

I spent Sunday morning checking out a few of the exhibitions at Somerset House. I was just in time to catch Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore, as this was the exhibition’s last day.

Isabella Blow at Somerset House

Isabella Delves Broughton was born into aristocracy in the 1950s. However, despite her seemingly privileged family and upbringing she had in many ways a difficult childhood. Her young brother drowned at the age of two, and the cash-strapped family lived in a cottage on the family estate as they couldn’t afford to live in the house itself. After leaving school, she worked at various jobs before moving to America; she ended up working for magazines including Vogue and Tatler. She married Detmar Blow in 1989, wearing a headdress by Philip Treacy – one of the first to recognise his talent. She also discovered Alexander McQueen, as well as the models Sophie Dahl and Stella Tennant.

Blow loved fashion and had a highly individual and unusual style. This exhibition, after an initial exploration of her early life, showcased some of her unusual outfits and accessories, including several hats by Treacy and clothes by McQueen. I particularly loved the hats and hair accessories – I’m not sure how wearable they would be, but they were so amazing to look at that I didn’t care. I especially loved the castle house, and the ship headdress made of feathers. Blow wore her own clothes frequently and with love: scratches, cigarette marks and tears reveal the person behind the amazing clothes. I’ve always seen high fashion as rather out of reach, but this exhibition made it human.

The exhibition focused on Blow’s life, career and relationship to fashion, and doesn’t say much about the fact that she sadly committed suicide in 2007, aged only 48. On the one hand, it seems to gloss over the truth of her life; on the other, I would imagine her friends and loved ones would rather focus on the happy times of her life than on her death. I’d never heard of Isabella Blow before seeing this exhibition advertised, but I wish I had – she sounds like she was an amazing lady.

Pink lobster necklace from Tatty Devine

On my way out, I purchased this little beauty from the gift shop. I had my eye on the large, crystal-studded version, but that was £180. This was only £40 and it was the last one left – clearly, it was fate! I am something of a Tatty Devine obsessive and this pink lobster is exclusive to this exhibition so I was very happy to snap it up (pun not intended).