Tabatha Davison of Tabby & Mimi moved to New Zealand in 2010, after a working holiday here when she met her partner. She has gone from London, to Queenstown, to the sleepy town of Athol – where she loves spending her time on long walks by the river with Poppy the dog. She also works at the local Brown Trout Cafe, and volunteers for the rural fire service. Tabatha loves making jewellery and custom pieces for people, and says it’s a real joy to see someone’s face light up when they receive her work.
What do you make?
I design and make hand drawn, crystal and stone jewellery, on their own or combined where possible. I really enjoy making custom pieces that are one off and design based around a crystal or stone.
How did you get into your craft?
I love drawing and making jewellery. My sister sent me a photo one day of a beautiful key ring she had made of a tattoo that I had done and I thought, what a great idea! So I started experimenting with drawings on shrink plastic.
I made a necklace combing my drawings and a crystal that I had been given. I received lots of compliments on it and told that it was real unique. A friend asked me to make one to gift to someone special. I made a couple of pieces as gifts for friends and family and went from there.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I studied History of Art, Architecture and Design at university in Kingston upon Thames in London and was always surrounded by makers. But I don’t have any formal training. It’s been learn as you go with this one. I experimented a lot with the plastic and have read up about people’s experiences and tips that they had with working with the material. I’m constantly learning new techniques by accident, trial and error.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite material to use is the shrink plastic. I really enjoy drawing onto the plastic and putting it in the oven and watching it shrink to half the size. This moment can usually be joyous and fun like being a kid again, or really disappointing. There’s been a few times when this has happened after hours of detailed drawing I’ve popped it in the oven to shrink and it has stuck together and I’ve been unable to pull it apart.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the people that surround me, my partner Matt and the great friends that I work alongside at the Queenstown creative market.
Magazines, social media, the internet, old and new things, beautiful things. I take no particular cue from fashion trends, just stuff that I love.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I wanted to create jewellery that was unique and affordable. Being hand drawn and hand cut each piece is unique in its own way. I may do the same design but it will never be exactly the same as the last, making it unique to the wearer.
Describe your workspace:
My workspace is my desk in my little rural home. I love it, I can sit be inspired and create looking out over my garden and the surrounding hills.
Five words that describe your mind: Bold, outgoing, quirky, fun, determined.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
I couldn’t name one of all of the positive feedback I get – it keeps me going and inspired.
What are you currently listening to? My motivation playlist on Spotify.
Recommend an album: Ella Eyre – Feline.
What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
The Roald Dahl collection. I love Roald Dahl, his stories always felt like anything was possible. Where else would you get a giant peach with talking insects?
What are you reading now? Frankie Magazine.
A favourite quote:
Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be.
Tell us about your pets:
I have a gorgeous wee fluffy dog called Poppy who keeps me company while I create. I also have six chickens that I can see from my workspace – they provide me with not only eggs, but also endless entertainment.
If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
I’d love to be like the witch Tabatha in Bewitched! That way I get to keep my name, wriggle my nose and have jobs done instantly. (Who wouldn’t want that superpower?!)
What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Stick with it. Trust your instincts and do what feels right for you. Every experience, whether it be a positive one or negative, is a learning curve – and you can either improve or try it a different way next time.
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
The last handmade item I bought was a beautiful dress my dear friend Gwen made. She used Sari fabric that she collected while travelling in India and I love it.
What’s in store for the rest of 2016?
Lots more jewellery! I want to keep on experimenting with the awesome material I use and create more unique and wonderful jewellery. Hopefully lots of sunshine as you can find me every Saturday at the Creative Queenstown arts and craft market on the lake front.
Tabatha has generously offered a beautiful prize for one lucky Felt reader of one of her custom hand drawn Tabby & Mimi whale tail pendants (see above). Drawn onto nifty shrink plastic in Tabatha’s signature style, the whale tail measures approximately 3 cm long and hangs from a silver plated chain which measures approximately 45cm.
Tabatha says that the whale tail in Maori culture traditionally symbolises protection to travellers wearing it. Each tail Tabatha designs is different from the last, making it unique to the wearer.
To be in to win this absolutely unique prize, simply leave a comment telling us what appeals to you about Tabatha’s story and her work. The draw will be made on Friday 9 September and is open to New Zealand residents only.