A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: workshop

Tatty Devine are having a retrospective of the 20 years they have been in business at the Lethaby Gallery in London. I entered a competition on Twitter, where they asked fans to share their favourite piece. I chose the rainbow necklace I made at another workshop I attended.

I was a little disappointed not to win, especially because I felt faked out when the gallery tagged me as the runner-up. Then there was a plot twist. The winner kindly offered me her +1 and before I knew it I was reorganising my Saturday plans so that I could go. Yeah, I guess I hadn’t checked my diary when I entered the competition.

I’ve actually been to a free bunting workshop at TD before. I just scrolled back through my Instagram feed to look for a picture and it was nearly four years ago!

I’d slightly hoped they might have some offcuts from the amazing acrylic they were using for another workshop available, but they didn’t.

I initially went for my default option of rainbow. However, since I know I’m pretty fast at making up the jewellery (I must have been to at least five workshops even though I haven’t blogged them all) I decided to spend a little longer at the design stage.

I laid out every colour of acrylic available, grouping them by the colours I felt went together. And this more pastelly option presented itself.

I also had a look around the exhibition- which I recommend if you are in the King’s Cross area for an hour or so. I first became aware of Tatty Devine when I was at university, so I’ve been well over ten years (god that makes me feel old). I remembered a lot of the collections. It’s interesting to notice how my tastes and personal style have evolved, and how that is reflected in the Tatty pieces I have been drawn to.

The founders of TD met at art school and I found myself, not for the first time, regretful about the way my life has turned out.

I don’t think the idea of studying art even crossed my mind when I was 17 and choosing universities, or even when I was 15 and choosing A’level subjects. I did art and graphics when I was at school. Back in those days, I think you had to choose a creative subject (art, music or drama) and a technology (my school was a ‘technology college’ and I think the choices were food tech, graphics or resistant materials (which once would have been woodwork and metalwork)) for GCSE.

Even though I spent more time on my creative subjects than all the others put together, I was raised with the idea that a woman has to earn her own money. Following my creative streak simply didn’t seem compatible with gainful employment. I ended up spending three wilderness years studying psychology at Oxford, then (after a couple of years of low-paid employment) a further three getting my professional doctorate to get the job I have now. While I don’t hate my day job, it’s also not a passion for me.

I tend to see some kind of second career in my future. I can’t imagine doing the same job for the next several decades. But at the same time, setting up a small business seems like an awful lot of work compared to the relative safety of my life now.

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Last weekend was really a tale of two embroidery workshops. After spending a happy Friday evening stitching a vagina at the Tate Modern, I got up bright and early on Saturday to travel to the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace.

When I was really unhappy in my job over the summer, I started thinking about alternative things to do with my life. One option I considered was a degree in needlework. I had really enjoyed playing around with beading when I tried to stem the flow of damage to my beautiful vintage jacket. I thought it might be a good idea to try out a workshop before taking things any further.

The price of the workshop (£125 I think) included the kit. The kits were on sale in the shop downstairs for £45. It includes most things you will need to make the song thrush, though not a large embroidery hoop. I picked one up from the RSN shop because I only have a little hoop at home and it’s not very good.

The first step was to create the beak using satin stitch. We then tacked a piece of felt padding to the linen.

We next learnt how to use soft thread to create an additional level of padding. This helps to make the final item more 3D.

We learnt three gold work techniques; couching, pearl purl and cut work. You can see a little bit of all three in the photo below. The head is couched in gilt thread, the wings are outlined in gold pearl purl and the brown bits on the wings are the cut work.

This is what I had achieved after the five hours of the workshop. I’m not sure when I’ll have some time to return to it, but it’s a project that I definitely want to finish.

I really enjoyed doing this workshop. I found the process really absorbing and meditative. Of course, I had my usual feelings of competition with my classmates. I’d been a little anxious when we were waiting to be picked up and I noticed that there was only one other person under the age of 60. The other women had probably been embroidering longer than I had been alive! Fortunately, the techniques for gold work are actually fairly straightforward providing you have decent fine motor skills and patience.

Funnily enough, I spotted some brooches in Liberty a few weeks ago that really caught my eye.

The company is called Macon & Lesquoy if you want to check them out. Their pieces are really stunning and contemporary. When I saw that the labels indicated the patches were handmade, I couldn’t work out how such tiny beading could be done. I realise now that a lot of the design is metalwork. I feel really inspired by learning this technique and I have some designs in mind that I would love to be able to create one day.


Last Friday was Lates night at the Tate Modern. I haven’t been to one of these events in a long time. They are normally good fun, but can get really busy since they are free.

We managed to get tickets to the keynote discussion featuring Susie Orbach. Hearing her speak really took me back to my days at the Tavistock studying psychoanalysis. I will definitely be looking out for her books in future.

The real clincher that got me to go along was a vagina embroidery workshop.

As Anna pointed out, this could definitely be used as a ‘tag yourself’ meme.

Once Paula and I braved the crowds to get hold of some embroidery hoops, we used stamps to put the designs on our fabric.

I kept it quite simple and did a chain stitch design. Here we are with the progress we had made after around an hour of work.

I decided to finish it up when I got home, since I had taken some extra thread with me.

There is another design (the same as my friend’s in the picture of us) in the shirting under the hoop. Maybe I will make it up one day, but to be honest I’m not entirely sure what I will do with one embroidered vagina, so I don’t think I need two yet.

I’m really glad I went out even though I wasn’t feeling too well on Friday. I’ve been feeling for a while that I would like to get more into embroidery, so this was a great way to dip my toe in the water.


I haven’t posted about anything I’ve made in what seems like forever! I am still working on my galaxy spindrift, which is growing but taking her time. I am also planning another project (post to come soon) but I haven’t had any sewing time at all since finishing my blue macaron.

It was so nice to get invited to an event by the lovely Shelley, who I know through #craftblogclub on Twitter. It was hosted at Drink Shop Do near King’s Cross. I went through a phase of going there a lot, but it’s been a couple of years. I love the space.

I’ve tried to make space for more drawing in bullet journal but that’s quite hit-and-miss. So it was great to take the time to be artistic. There were little tableaux on all of the tables.

I was taken with the skull in the party hat as well as the watermelon. We were encouraged to be quite free and expressive, which isn’t so easy for me. I tried to let go of my perfectionism.

The final exercise was with coloured chalk pastels. I tried even harder not to focus on detail.

The event was in honour of dry January. I haven’t tried that out- I think Veganuary was quite enough of a challenge! J2O, Teissiere and Britvic provided various ingredients to make non-alcoholic cocktails. It was fun to taste some different drinks, and I definitely would have struggled even more with the drawings if I had imbibed.

My friend Paula and I proudly showing off our artwork.


I had a day off the other week and spotted a ravioli-making workshop online. Making pasta has always been one my list of things to try but always seemed like too much effort. I remember my uncle, who used to be a chef, made a big batch and promptly dropped it all in the cat litter tray, which somehow put me off even though I don’t have a cat. Funnily enough, this was the last thing I did before discovering I had a broken finger. You can see my blissful ignorance (and swollen and bent finger) in the picture below.

Pasta ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 180g 00 flour

Filling ingredients

  • 100g mascarpone
  • 100g ricotta
  • 40g Parmesan
  • 40g rocket

Method

Put the flour on a clean surface. Make a well in the middle and crack in the eggs.

Use a fork to combine the egg and flour. Once it starts to come together, knead until smooth adding more flour if needed. About 5 minutes.

Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.

For the filling, combine the ingredients and season to taste. Leave and allow flavours to develop.

Once the dough has rested, transfer to a floured surface and roll out until you can see light coming through it.

Gently score down the centre of the pasta to mark where you will fold it.

Take walnut-sized balls of filling and place on one half of the dough.

Brush water all around each piece of filling to allow the dough to stick. Fold.

Working from the centre out, seal each raviolo being careful to get all the air out. You can pierce any bubbles with a toothpick. The dough can take rough handling.

Cut out your shapes.

Leftovers can be cut up and used in soups etc.

The only part of this workshop that I really didn’t like was the enormous amount of waste generated. We were not allowed (apparently because of license problems) to eat the pasta, which meant that loads of perfectly good food went straight in the bin. I asked if I could take the ravioli if I assumed the risk but I was told no.

The positive is that I now feel confident to try it on my own.


After a very challenging summer term, which included changing jobs (which has gone horribly) and moving house (which has gone well) I decided to treat myself. I’ve had my eye on a Tatty Devine rainbow necklace for an age. I’ve always loved rainbows and I feel that this necklace really captures how beautiful and fun they are. I tried the sample on at my last workshop  and knew the necklace had to be mine.

And now she is!

I really enjoyed this workshop. Since I’ve done so many, I whizzed through the construction.

I was a little more apprehensive about adding the crystals- this element is what makes the workshop necklace unique and I can never resist a bit of sparkle. Putting them on took some serious glue.

I kept my crystal placement quite close to the sample and I’m happy with that decision.

And here is the finished item

We had a bit of a debate at the workshop about whether these necklaces are really ‘handmade’ or simply assembled (my view).

The fact that the workshop took place on pride weekend got me thinking. First, I thought that I am a sucker because I bought both rainbow doughnuts and a rainbow bagel as I walked down Brick Lane.

Secondly I started thinking about taking pride in a range of identities. As a mixed race woman, it has taken me many years to take pride in both sides of my heritage, especially spending my time predominantly in the company of white people. People tend to be black-or-white thinkers, struggling to hold on to complexity when the pull of easy stereotypes can be so irresistible. It felt pertinent to see this quotation from Harriet Tubman for the first time.


I’m never sure whether to include activities like this on the blog, seeing as I was really just assembling my Tatty Devine poinsettia necklace. However, it was still an enjoyable crafty morning and I ended up with a cute seasonal necklace that looks lovely with my two festive-ish sweaters.

Tatty Devine poinsettia necklace over my Port Charlotte sweater

I am very hungover in this picture

As usual, Tatty Devine provided everything we needed to put together this snazzy necklace.

This is what all the pieces looked like laid out. Putting the two flowers in the middle together using a head pin was a new skill (but I forgot to take any pics when I was doing it.)

Port Charlotte over my octupus Betty dress

Thanking the very lovely person who put up with my photographic demands.

I found it really interesting to look back at the blog post I wrote about the TD forget-me-not necklace I made. I’m pretty sure I have been to more workshops since, I just haven’t blogged about them. That workshop was one of the first times I wore a totally self-made outfit- my autumn leaves skirt and my rolling rock sweater. It’s nice to see how far I have come on my handmade clothing journey in the past four years.

Making Tatty Devine jewellery in handmade skirt and jumper