ITS HISTORY, PRODUCTS AND PROCESSES
SHATTALINE Limited originally operated from an old workshop at 24 Long Garden Walk, Farnham, Surrey (UK) from the mid-1960s. Products were a range of decorative resin household items including paperweights, pen holders, candle holders, tables, table lamps and table lighters. All of these were manufactured using a patented process producing a crazed effect within the resin, which reflected and refracted the light. In 1969 the small firm planned an expansion and was joined by additional directors. Manufacture moved away from Farnham, initially to Maybury Road, Woking then, in the early 1970s to Evanton, Ross-shire. Here there were attempts at diversification, such as experimentation with bar-fonts in the shape of glasses filled with bubbling ‘beer’ – a common enough sight these days! The prototypes are recalled by George Campbell, whose father George Snr. was landlord of the Caledonian Hotel in Beauly, where some Shattaline staff would go for a drink. Following Major Tugwell’s disappearance (see Page 9: People) there appears to have been a 'split' among the Board of Directors, with the remaining directors of the company (excepting Joan Tugwell and Michael Hirst) forming a company called Freeplan. A somewhat acrimonious dispute resulted in transfer of the patent to the new company in lieu of royalties; in the event, Freeplan proved to be very short-lived. Around this time, there was also a major increase in the cost of resin, the main raw material for the process, which contributed to the end of the product.
Shattaline products have become collectable items of "kitsch" in recent times, but little is known about them and I've been told of charity shop staff throwing them away as worthless "tat", whilst others make reasonable sums on auction sites such as eBay. Genuine Shattaline items were produced by a patented process and carried labels showing their origin but, of course, these labels were usually removed, leaving the piece anonymous; they can then be confused with similar items but the real thing can usually be distinguished from these by careful inspection. Lacking the appropriate knowledge, some dealers describe Shattaline and its imitators as "crackle resin" or "resin crackle" items.
Many still consider plastic to be a cheap, mass-produced option and, therefore, not a craft product or worthy of notice. That certainly isn't true of Shattaline; as you will see on the following pages, the process was labour-intensive and craft-based. The process resulted in a very high level of rejection, so it was costly. In fact, if you compare the manufacture of a simple Shattaline paper weight with throwing a pot you can see that, maybe, these ‘plastic’ items should be much more highly regarded!
How do I know this? I worked 8 hours a week (and full time during school holidays) at Shattaline for a few years in the late 1960s when regulations allowed teenaged schoolkids to earn some pocket money in factories as an alternative to the usual newspaper round. I am indebted to Steve Bayfield for filling out much of the half-remembered detail. Thanks also to Steve's brother Tony and sister-in-law Su for their photographic and other help. Thanks, too to Dave Claydon for his help and for getting me the job in the first place! And thanks to all those ebayers who have provided photos. Last but not least, I am indebted to Angela O’Sullivan (daughter of the product’s inventor and firm’s founder Lewen Tugwell); and to the late Mrs Tugwell, wife of Lewen, who provided further information through Angela for release after her passing.