I bought my first ring from East London designer Kat&Bee last year, and it’s had a lot of wear. I can get quite severe dermatitis on my hands and it can flare up pretty gruesomely sometimes (think Orlando’s dad in the first Pirates of the Caribbean), so Kat&Bee’s lightweight designs are perfect for me. While Googling their site a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a Groupon deal for a ring workshop with Kat, the designer at Kat&Bee. I asked Hannah to come along as we’d spent out formative years being rubbish at craft together at Brownie Guides, so I knew she wouldn’t judge me when my creation inevitably came out as a tortured mass of beads and wire. (After all, we all know what happened when I gave taxidermy a bash. Crime Against Nature territory, that was.)
We went to Andina for a late breakfast before heading up to Kat’s studio in Hackney. It’s a Peruvian place on Shoreditch High Street and the sister restaurant of Ceviche, James 2’s favourite restaurant, so I was excited to try it. I was also due to eat breakfast the following week suspended from an 80 foot crane with Martin Morales, the chef who owns it, so it was nice to have a preview.
My breakfast was utterly delicious (and relatively guilt-free); avocado and poached egg on freshly-made, moist cornbread with peppers and red onion, a plateful of fresh, clean flavours I could easily start every day with. For the money (£8.50) though, they were a little miserly with the avocado, and who over the age of five only has one egg for breakfast?
We ordered a side of Mini Pork Chicharrones (£3.00), which were fatty little nubbins of juicy pork, swimming in a rich, tangy sauce. (Alas, these offset our healthy mains quite a bit…) The Cassava Chips (£4.50) were generous but came out late; we were nearly finished by the time they arrived. Nonetheless, they were good, a little like roast potatoes but a little denser and a lot less greasy. They came with an Andean Ocopa herb and nut dip, which was nice, but not as good as the sticky pork sauce, so I dipped my chips in that.
The total came to about £35 for two, so it wasn’t especially cheap (and I was still annoyed by my solitary egg). The food really was excellent though, so I was looking forward to my crane breakfast more than ever.
It was time to find the Kat&Bee workshop, which turned out to be a tiny studio jam-packed with beads, pliers, miscellaneous bits of wire and other pieces of jewellery-makers’ paraphernalia. The table was strewn with beautiful rings for us to be inspired by.
The process, thankfully, was more straightforward than gutting a mouse. We practiced making base rings to the right size a few times, and then it was time to select our favourite components and start wrapping them together. I chose a small skull, grey polymer clay flower and a large black obsidian bead as my focal points, with a few pearl and acid yellow accents.
Kat&Bee rings are made with only one piece of wire, so designing the embellished part is actually quite an organic, chilled-out process. You just thread the beads on and shape the wire into a pleasing shape, building it up until it’s just right.
We then had the option of wire-wrapping the underside of the ring for a chunkier, more polished finish. After just two hours our creations were complete, and I’ve been wearing mine ever since. Definitely an improvement on the sodding mouse, I think you’ll agree.
Kat&Bee’s workshops usually cost £100/person, but she seems to be quite flexible on cost so if there are a few of you it might be worth dropping her a line first. Her large rings cost £150-200, so if you do a good job, you’re getting a good deal. And if I can do it – she of all the crafting talent of a lobotomised tomato – you definitely can too.
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.