Studio visit: graphic designer-turned-jeweler William Robinson

A few weeks ago I wrote an article for the Telegraph-Journal about William Robinson, a graphic designer-turned-jeweler. William is embarking on his second career when most would be considering retirement, and is already developing a solid business and landing awards for his stunning pieces. I thought I’d include a little mention about him here so you can all take a peek! If you’re in the Fredericton area, be sure to check out his show “Body Type” opening at Gallery 78 on September 11th from 5 pm- 7 pm.

William and his wife Bonnie share a beautiful heritage-style home where they raised their two children and built their graphic design business together. Having been interested in jewelry-making during his design education at NSCAD, William always thought he’d go back to it. Sure enough, the jewelry bug bit a few years ago and he found himself in the jewlery/metal arts program at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. While older than most of his classmates by a few decades, his years of design experience and self-directed work ethic proved to be a winning combination. Now fresh out of school, William is building up his inventory of designs and getting his name out into the wide, wide world.

During our visit I got a peek into William’s learning process as he showed me the very first piece he made at the college. The assignment was to create pieces inspired by insects which had to have moving parts. Using a technique he borrowed from a friend who was a tailor (a technique the instructor had never seen), he created a matching set of insect earrings and pendant. That was just the beginning. William took out his box of pieces and walked me through each different one, explaining what the assignment was, what challenges he encountered, and what pleased him most about each one. It was clear that the design aspect is one of his favourite parts of jewelry-making. In fact, he usually plans out each step with lots of sketching, calculating and measuring before ever touching the metal. Such precision combined with stellar design skills are what people notice   about William’s work. One of his favourite pieces, his “Spin” pendant, netted him the Best Technical Achievement award at the Toronto National Juried Exhibition of Fine Jewelry and Metalwork. He took it out to show me how each circle spins in a different direction, and how challenging it was to solder together. I just wanted to keep spinning each perfect little circle. Truly stunning work.

His upcoming show is a perfect debut for him, since it combines his two loves, graphic design and jewelry. “Body Type” features jewelry inspired by typography and fonts, which he worked with on a daily basis before getting into metal arts. The pieces on display (and for sale!) at Gallery 78 will include symbols and signs that aren’t often seen in regular use, such as the ampersand (&) and tilde (~).

Find out more about William below: