Tatty Devine Designers Tell Us About Their Unusual Jewellery

by Cass Art

Spinning acrobats, shiny first names and bold, contemporary shapes on a chain round your neck can only refer to the one and only Tatty Devine.

An independent British jewellery design company, their pieces are utterly unique. Vibrant conversation starters, their design have been blurring the boundaries between art, fashion and culture, since its inception in 1999.

Set up by Fine Art graduates Harriet Vine and Rosie Wolfenden, the pair still work together to produce innovative, fresh designs that creatives love. We caught up with the artist-come-entrepreneurs to hear the inside story behind Tatty Devine. (They're also hosting a great workshop in Cass Art Glasgow on 5th October. Book your tickets now to meet the designers and create your own unique necklace that you can then take away with you!)

 Tatty Devine Jewellery

Hi Harriet and Rosie! So tell us: where did you guys meet and how did Tatty Devine come about?

Harriet: Rosie and I met when we were at college. We were both studying Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art on the Kings Road. I had a flat with some friends, we had a spare room and Rosie moved in. From then on we did nearly everything together and got up to all kinds of fun capers.

Rosie: The start of Tatty Devine happened by chance when Harriet found bin bags full of leather sample books in the street. They were all just about the right size to make wristbands in every colour, so we set up a studio in our bedrooms and started selling handmade cuffs at Portobello and Spitalfields markets. Our first market stall was in July and by Christmas we had to give up the market because we were suddenly selling to Harvey Nichols, Urban Outfitters and Whistles. At the same time I was working in a vintage shop on the Kings Road and was approached by a stylist who asked where the jewellery I was wearing was from. I confidently said, “My company made it” then was asked to bring the collection into Vogue on Monday morning. We ended up being featured in Vogue’s Millennium edition, which included photographs by Mario Testino!

That's an amazing story! But what is it that makes your jewellery unique?

Rosie: Our raison d’être has always been to be original and to make things that don’t exist. This by default has meant that we stand out from the crowd. When we started we felt there was a real drought of fun, bright, different jewellery and accessories so by filling that niche it kick-started the brand.

Brushstrokes necklace 

Your Perspex jewellery is hugely well-known, but what other materials do you work with?

Harriet: We also love working with wood and leather, and often feature glass beads and Swarovski crystals in our designs. Every season we try to include new ways of beading, threading, and manipulating the materials we use to bring originality and freshness into the way we work.

Did you always know you wanted to design jewellery, or was it something that just happened?

Rosie: We both wanted to be Artists - painters, but Tatty Devine happened and we’ve never looked back. We both fell in love with art at school and were brought up surrounded by craft and making, so being creative was always a big part of our life.

Why is it important that all of your jewellery is handmade in the UK?

Rosie: It’s important for us to support and nurture British talent and we have built up a team of talented makers over the past 16 years. Quality is so important to us and we make everything in small batches with incredible attention to detail. The Seasonal collection always contains pieces that challenge how it is possible to make jewellery and are limited to production runs of 50 or less. It’s essential to keep production here with us where we can be in control, test new things and the designs have immediacy about them.

What was it like working with paper artist Rob Ryan to form one of your collections?

Harriet: It was wonderful to make something with Rob Ryan, as he is an old friend, and these collaborations are always the best - when you both genuinely love what each other do and want to create something truly original.

Dog on Wheels 

Do you have a favourite Tatty Devine piece or collection?

Rosie: I have a favourite piece every season but long time favourites have been the Dog on Wheels Brooch, Giant Lobster Necklace and more recently the Brushstrokes Link Necklace. The Dog on Wheels as it was made in honour of one of my favourite ever songs (Belle and Sebastian) and the Lobster because it is a timeless piece guaranteed to turn heads, and it's claws move as you walk and talk!

Harriet: I love statement jewellery – the bigger the better! My favourite piece at the moment is the Still Life Plant Necklace from our current AW15 collection, and last season I couldn’t stop wearing the Tudor House Necklace. An all time classic favourite would be the Banana Necklace – I was so pleased our fans voted it back for our 15th Birthday Collection.

Banana Necklace

How do you split your time between the jewellery design and the running of a business?

Rosie: We've managed by sharing the spinning plates - being a team of two has certainly helped to make everything possible. From early on Harriet focused on product and I've focused on sales and the operational side. Harriet makes things and I make things happen. 

That's a great tagline. So what would your tops tips be for budding jewellery designers?

Harriet: Make sure you are part of a creative community and never be afraid to ask for help, support or opinions. Finding people that have ‘been there and done that’ is invaluable as when you start it is experience that you lack, but you can learn from other peoples experiences (and mistakes!) 

Rosie: It helps to love what you do as first of all this will show in your work, and secondly it’s much easier to do something you love than something you’re not passionate about. Try to stick to your own ideas. There’s nothing to be gained from mimicking others and people really value originality.

 Rosie and Harriet

Feeling inspired?

Visit the Tatty Devine website here and browse the gorgeous jewellery designs. 

Book your place here for the Tatty Devine workshop at Cass Art Glasgow on 5th October. Tickets cost £15 and you'll come away with a unique handmade necklace that's sure to catch everyone's eye!

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