From the 1980s there has been a surge in woodworkers making shuttles in a wide range of techniques. Sadly some of these wonderful craftsmen have since passed away. We do hope more will follow in their footsteps - in particular, it must be a very satisfying retirement occupation for anyone who has the skill.
The shuttles are beautiful objects to collect or use, and make great souvenirs for special occasions.
This was the first special shuttle commissioned by the Ring of Tatters.
It was made by Christine and David Springett of Rugby in 1989.
David's instructions for making a wooden shuttle are given in Pam Palmer's book.
The inscription on the back was pyrographed in dots by Christine.
This shuttle (right) marks a special occasion when popular tatting designer Pam Palmer
gave an entertaining talk which culminated in her presentation of a tatted version of
the little mouse from the Beatrix Potter story "The Tailor of Gloucester"
– a magical moment for this Gloucester audience! Pam later published the pattern.
Chris Parsons, the trader for the day, supplied the specially-designed shuttle.
This intricate technique makes a very desirable shuttle.
The top one was made by Ian Jackson of Guilsborough in the early 1990s.
The one below was made by Ken Surrey (Chrisken) who retired in 2002.
Chris Hinton in the US began making shuttles in exotic woods in 2000. They are very original, the sides having patterns pierced right through. One side is further decorated with a laser-cut design, or is inlaid with ivory, abalone or precious stones. The reverse side has the letters TSS (The Shuttle Shop) and the year or issue number.
The Victorian technique of Tunbridge Ware is a process for producing a mosaic in wood, the designs being based on squares as with cross-stitch or filet. Bundles of tiny squared sticks of different coloured woods, each about 2mm across, are skilfully stuck together to form a design like letters in a stick of seaside rock. Then veneers are cut off horizontally and stuck on to thicker wood. The front and back have different designs.
This shuttle was made by highly skilled craftsman Peter Benjamin, who specialises in Tunbridge Ware.
This Tunbridge ware shuttle was made by Ian Jackson of Guilsborough in 1992. The design is the same, front and back.
Gary and Randy Houtz, the legendary Shuttle Brothers
from Colorado in the USA invented a new kind of shuttle hand-crafted from one piece of wood and
using an ordinary sewing machine bobbin. Tension is controlled by a screw finished with the
decorative boss you see in the photo. This shuttle was first developed in 1994.
This design has been made in England by Edwin Clarke since about 2005.
It bears a strong resemblance to the GR8 shuttle and like it, is silent.
The screw is used for adjusting the tension of the thread, and the screwdriver comes with the shuttle.
Georgia Seitz, famous for her tatting classes,
has produced a great variety of shuttles over the years,
mainly decorated with transfers. Before she moved to Illinois, the shuttle you ordered would arrive as
an exotic little parcel all the way from Anchorage, Alaska!
Ann Margaret Keller from Dublin has made shuttles since the the 1990s. The earlier ones,
like the one illustrated (right), were made by her father William Keller.
They are now made by Stuart Johnson. Ann is a lace designer and teacher,
and also designs lace for Irish Dance costumes.
Chris Parsons from Somerset
has been a full time professional bobbin-maker since 1992,
specialising in painted bobbins. Tatting shuttles were a natural addition to the list.
They are made for him by Stuart Johnson of Warwick, and as with the bobbins,
he employs artists to paint them. There is a very wide choice of subjects
– you can even have your pet painted on a shuttle.
The oldest flat shuttle most tatters will have seen is probably the ivory one made by Lady Hoare for her blind mother. (See her book "The Art of Tatting", first published in 1910). It was in effect a modification of a netting needle with one point longer than the other, so that it could be used like an embedded hook - much easier for her mother to manage.
A modern example: Palmetto Tatters have come up with a flat shuttle you can
order as a cardboard sheet of 20 shuttles to cut out! This provides an
inexpensive shuttle for a class or to hand out to random people you may teach.
Shuttles for Celtic tatting – skinny so that they can get through the spaces more easily.
These shuttles were made from lemonwood by Matthew Hester and decorated by his mother Jenny.
They are from Abergavenny in Wales. The light wood makes a good background for Jenny's pyrography designs,
and she adds distinctive highlights in the form of tiny Swarovski crystals.
The glass is set low so that it does not catch on the thread.
Matthew Hester also makes Picot Gauges. This is a tool for measuring picots accurately
as you make them. Each gauge is of a slightly different width,
and all fold neatly away like the blades of a penknife.
Dymondwood is a patented wood product formed from multiple layers of hardwood veneers,
dyed then pressed together with resins under extreme heat and pressure.
Four times stronger than hardwood, it is water proof and fire resistant.
No exterior finishes are necessary. It can be sanded and buffed to a beautiful satin or gloss finish.
It comes in gorgeous colour combinations!
The colour and the grain of the different woods are the main attraction in this section.
Philip Kingston from Llandrindod Wells in Wales made shuttles from 1988 - 2002. This one is made of yew.
Note the blades joined together with single wooden peg.
Pink ivory has nothing to do with elephants! This shuttle was made from an African wood
that was once rare and highly-prized. The UmGoloty was the royal tree of the Zulus,
and back in the 1800s only the royal family were allowed to possess it.
Now you can buy small pieces on the internet. It takes hundreds of years to mature
and is almost as hard as ebony.
These unusual shuttles depict a seahorse, an owl, a toucan, and a fish!
They were made by Sheila and Harry Sturrock, who began producing shuttles in 1989.
They are decorated with poker work and water colours before being varnished.
These fun hat shuttles are perhaps more useful as threadwinders; they were made by Georgia Seitz for the Palmetto Days 2006 when the theme was "Hats Off to Tatting". She also created the delightful pig!