Tuesday 21 May 2013

The Making of The Palm Dog Award Collar 2013 with Tatty Devine

One of my highlights of last year was receiving a phone call from Harriet Vine, Artistic Director & co-founder of Tatty Devine, to say that they had a client working on a mad doggy project who was in urgent need of a spectacular dog collar and that they thought I might be the person to help.  The mad doggy project was the Diamond Jubilee Palm Dog 2012.

The Diamond Jubilee Palm Dog Award 2012

What followed next was a pretty surreal and very fun journey in to the world of celebrity canines in film, taking in Uggie (star of The Artist), Smurf (canine star of Sightseers), Ben Wheatley, Ewan McGregor, Terry Gilliam, Bonnie Wright, Peter Egan, a Covent Garden Victory Parade by rickshaw, and being interviewed for an "extras" section of a DVD about canine fashion.  Looking back on it now, surreal doesn't really even start to cover it.

So it was with HUGE excitement that earlier this year I met with Mr Toby Rose, the mastermind and genius behind The Palm Dog Award to discuss plans for the Palm Dog Award Ceremonial Collar 2013.  We had a lot to live up to.

The Palm Dog Award takes place at The Cannes Film Festival and is awarded to the best performance by a dog in a film in competition that year.  It is a highly sought after gong, previous winners being Uggie for his performance in The Artist, and last year's winner Smurf for his role in Sightseers - the prestige of wining this award is obviously unrivalled.  We decided that golden and glitzy was the way to go.  The glamour of The Great Gatsby, the glitz of Cannes...  It had to be big, bold and beautiful.  And very sparkly.  

Following my initial brief from Mr Rose - "it's got to be even more fabulous than last year darling, and no more union flags - we maxed out on that one last year with the Jubilee" - I was thrilled that Tatty Devine were up for collaborating on this year's collar.  I have long coveted their gold glitter acrylic star earrings and had a vision of them mixing up and maxing out our Creature Clothes Black Leather Classic Dog Collar with Brass Stars.  

I turned the biro doodle of my basic idea into a simple card template, giving the scale of the dog collar and the PALM DOG graphic, and took this over to the Tatty Devine workshop where Creative Director (and soon to be MBE) Harriet gave me a tour of their amazing work space and inflicted some serious "machine envy" on me after seeing the super-cool machine that would be cutting our letters.  My default font in all that I do is a hand drawn cartoony "POW / ZAP / ZOOM" Batman style graphic - as seen on my WOOF Dog Dozas for Creature Clothes and I was delighted that Tatty Devine decided to keep my original lettering.

The call came through from Tatty at 3pm to say that the Golden Sparkly Acrylic letters were ready for collection.  Then it was All Paws To Deck and a precision relay team of friends and family got to work getting the letters to me at the Creature Clothes workshop in Suffolk.  My husband & daughter went straight to the Tatty Devine Studio to collect the letters, then hopped on a bus to Liverpool Street Station, where they delivered the Acrylic Treasure to a Suffolk bound friend, waiting anxiously for the booty to be delivered before her train departed at 4.30pm.  Friend and Golden Letters arrived in the little coastal village of Walberswick at 8pm and the sparkly hoard was handed to me in the pouring Suffolk rain.  I then zoomed (in a cartoony graphic kinda way) off to the Creature Clothes workshop as night fell to get cutting and sewing to have the collar ready to be taken back to London at 8am the next morning.  I had 12 hours and no back up plan.  The collar had to be in London at 11am the next morning to be flown to France for the start of the Cannes Film Festival.

Once I had the golden letters in the workshop I tried out several different materials for the base of the collar, eventually deciding on a beautiful, heavy black suede.  It made the golden letters really ping and had an outrageous feeling of luxury and texture to it.  I also loved the contrast to the acrylic.  I cut the suede into the specially designed collar shape and then got to work sewing the letters on one by one, using a lovely and virtually invisible waxed thread that was handed down to me in my grandma's sewing box.

Once all the letters and stars were sewn on I covered the reverse side of the collar in Astronaut Tape - a ridiculously strong double sided tape that I save for Serious Sticking. This also gave the suede added strength and structure, while giving the hand sewing further security.  I laminated fabulously luxe golden leather to the underside of the collar, then cut, edged, sealed and painted the edges for a perfect finish.  The solid brass buckle and dee ring were riveted on next, and then in went the collar holes.  I quickly ran up a red suede bag for the collar to be safely transported to France in, and went home at 2am to a very beautiful and star strewn sky.  

I'm pleased to say that the collar made it safely to London the next morning, and then on to France the very same day.

A weird kind of Planes, Trains, [Busses] and Automobiles [Vans] for the canine stars of Cannes.

I can't wait to see in whose hands and paws the collar turns up in this year. 

To see what the 2012 collar got up to, see my previous blog: 

The scribble/sketch of my original idea for The Palm Dog Award 2013 Ceremonial Collar 

I am happiest using scissors and scalpels, so made a card template of the design for the collar and lettering which I then dropped off with Harriet and the Tatty Devine Team to magically transform into golden sparkly acrylic letters.

The Creature Clothes Classic Black Leather with Brass Stars Dog Collar  that I used as the initial focal point, which was then given the Palm Dog / Tatty Devine treatment
A photo from the Tatty Devine studio of their initial mock up of the collar based on my card and pencil template

The relay and race against time begins... my husband and daughter pick up the letters from Tatty Devine HQ as soon as they are cut, practising some reading at the same time... They then race to Liverpool St Stn to hand them over to a friend on a Suffolk-bound train

The letters make it to the East Coast and are handed over to me in the Suffolk rain that same evening.  I then headed straight out to our workshop to make the collar that night, ready to be sent up to London first thing the next morning to catch Toby before he flies out to France later in the day.

The spectacular Tatty Devine letters

After deciding on a thick and luxurious suede, I got to work sewing on the letters through teeny tiny holes cut into each letter by the Tatty Devine team.

Done!  Now for the backing - this outrageously luxe gold leather was perfect for the job.

I used heavy duty "Astronaut Tape" and leather glue to fix down the stitching and give the collar extra structure while attaching the golden backing leather.  I then hand cut the edges, bevelling, sealing and painting them to create a perfect finish.

Then the buckle, dee ring and punched holes go in...

... and here is the finished article in the early morning light before it was whisked off to London and then on to France.  The Ceremonial Collar for The Palm Dog Award 2013...  lets see in who's hands it turns up in this year!

Thanks to Toby for asking me to be involved in this fabulous project.
Harriet & the Tatty Devine Team for the amazing Golden Letters.
The Relay Team to rival UPS: Nick, Ruby T, Juniper, Sarah, Caroline and Chris.

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