I first noticed Robin Gage’s exquisite jewellery pieces at the Outskirts festival of September last year. The pretty, upcycled China pieces caught my eye and I’ve been keenly following her label ever since. Read on to get a taste of her lovely wares yourself, and find out what makes her tick! Claire.
Official job title: Jewellery designer
Summarise your career background and how you’ve come to where you are now:
I have always loved making things. After a couple of years of traveling after high school, I took a silversmithing course which excited and terrified me. I loved working with metal but the gas and flames aspect took a little getting used to. When I moved from Toronto to Perth 10 years ago with my husband, I decided to get out of the hospitality industry and try to turn my love of making things into a business. We have had 2 children during that time so growing my business took a bit of a back burner. Having children, however, makes you believe that there are so many more possibilites. I think they have definitely helped me take some bigger creative risks. I am very happy with how my business and designs have evolved and the time it has taken to get where I am.
Describe your workspace:
Although I have a few designated areas, I do manage to spread myself into every corner of the house. Part of our back garden looks like closing time at a Greek restaurant. That is where I do most of my work. I don’t always manage to clean up before I’m off to pick up the children from school however, so my husband usually finds stray shards of ceramic in the bottom of his feet! I also have a little nook in my kitchen that I have set up where I piece everything together and work on my designs.
Take us through a typical day of your work:
Two days a week both of the girls are at school. On those days I race home from dropping them off, suit up, crank the music and grind until it’s time to head back and pick them up. The rest of the week I find pockets of time to get work done and generally work most nights. It’s a juggling act with children.
What music do you listen to whilst you work?
My music selection is definitely dependent on the weather and my mood. It could be anything from Chromeo to Dolly Parton. I love Dolly.
Heehee, me too!
Can you tell us about your current collection?
I have two collections that I am working on. My ‘Smashed’ collection is made from upcycled china plates. I grind each one by hand. One of the exciting aspects of taking a whole plate and smashing it into a bunch a little pieces is the fact that one beautiful plate can be shared amongst so many people. I have been working with plates for a few years now and I love the challenges the material brings. My second collection is using reclaimed leather remnants. My ‘Fleather’ bibs are bright and playful. In contrast to the china plates, working with a soft material like leather has so many exciting possibilities.
Earrings made from upcycled china plates…
and one of Robin’s leather necklaces.
Do you find it hard to part with your creations? I imagine you must have quite the jewellery collection.
Occasionally I find it hard but whenever I am working on a new piece I always feel that I am making it for someone else. I enjoy seeing other people wearing my pieces and love when they get it!
What has been your proudest achievement?
I can’t say it is any one thing. I think that although it can be chaotic and, well, darn stressful at times, I am so pleased that I am able to work on this little dream of mine while being at home with my children. At times when I feel like I am really pulling it off, that makes me feel kinda proud.
What’s next for Robin Gage?
I am really excited to get my new leather designs out of my sketch book and into production. I have so many new colors and textures just waiting…
Which local artists/musicians/creatives do you admire?
This city is brimming with talented people. I really admire anyone that puts themselves out there and juggles day jobs, school runs chaotic schedules etc and still manages to create and share what they love to do. This really is a colorful city we live in.
Any advice for those trying to enter into the creative community in Perth?
The market scene has really evolved and is very supportive of local and handmade businesses. It is the perfect place to share your creations with buyers and get feedback, as well as a place to meet other liked minded creative people.
What do you love about Perth?
The many green spaces! You don’t have to look very hard or walk very far to find a lovely patch of grass to plonk yourself down on.
What does Perth need?
Better public transport and more people willing to take it!
Most frequented coffee spot?
The Beaufort Street Merchant. The coffee. The food. Yum!
Best live music venue?
This summer it had to be PIAF’s Festival Gardens. Brilliant atmosphere and great music.
Cottesloe at dusk. Whenever family comes to visit from Canada we pretty much head straight there for fish and chips. It’s a beautiful spot and funnily enough reminds me of my family.
Rottnest or Margaret River?
Hmm, it would have to be Margaret River. We are lucky enough to get down there a fair bit to visit my husband’s family. I especially love it in the winter. It’s like a home away from home away from home.
Where can we find you?
I can be found at the Perth Upmarket – http://www.perthupmarket.com.au/
and online at Down That Little Lane – http://www.downthatlittlelane.com.au/sellers/robin-gage-designs
I also update local stockists on my blog – from the blue shed – http://www.fromtheblueshed.typepad.com