I love to make things. I always have.
My sister, twin brother and I grew up in a chaotically creative family in New York City and then in the countryside outside Philadelphia. Our father was a witty and whimsical toy inventor and our mother was an accessories editor at Vogue Magazine who started the company that launched the paper dress craze of the 1960s. Colored markers and paints were always at hand, along with stacks and stacks of paper and paraphernalia. When we weren’t drawing or painting we were MAKING. Sewing, glueing, building, carving, drilling, sawing, CREATING. It was bliss. There was always something new to make, embellish, or invent. Even if it was a skating rink for Barbie in July made out of a jelly roll pan carefully carried to the freezer to ensure the thickest ice.
I learned a lot of my crafting skills early on: my father taught me to use the black Singer sewing machine with its gold filagree script when I was four years old. It was not a problem that the generous hem allowance of our kitchen curtains ceded cheerful doll clothes. And yet, it wasn’t until I was seven that I discovered my mother could sew as well. Beautifully. She surprised my sister and me one Christmas with new ball gowns for our Madame Alexander dolls. They were exquisite – tiny stitches of silk thread through chartreuse lace, golden sequins and weightless silk organsa. My enthusiasm for composition was completely charged. Our dolls and bears needed places to live, furnishings and food. Consequently, we would create castles and cottages, cardboard boxes with crenelated towers coated in glue and sand to mimic medieval stucco. Twigs and leaves were reserved for fairies, while sugar cubes and thick frosting became snow covered palaces in December. It was a dream setting for a creative child with endless materials and tools with which to experiment. As long as we tied our long hair back in a ponytail, we were allowed to use the bandsaw and drill press when we were eight – we even had a child sized lathe which afforded the addition of woodworking skills. It was within this unbridled environment of curiosity that I explored as many materials as I could get my hands on. Never a minimalist, I fell in love with many media and have pursued a broad range of decorative and fine arts: from painting, ceramics, needlework and photography to fashion and product design.
After graduating from Vassar College with a BA focused on 18th C. English Romantics and Children’s Literature, I went to New York City and worked my way through the retail merchandising program at Macy’s. I wanted to be more involved with the creative side of the industry and was hired by Tommy Hilfiger to work in the design room developing licensed products and mens accessories. From there I moved to Ralph Lauren where I was responsible for the meticulous merchandising and visual displays for the department stores in the northeast region. My next adventure allowed me to travel and shop in the capital cities of Europe while developing private label fashion collections for Talbots and J Peterman.
While the apparel industry held much allure, I longed to create beautiful objects to dress the home and garden. I wanted to work with pottery and furnishings, alongside master artisans who would share their expertise. Serendipity struck and I was blessed to work for The Essex Collection north of Boston as their Director of Product Development and Design. It was heaven designing whimsical dinnerware and accessories while working with the skilled craftsman at factories all over the world. I was in awe of the artistry that had been polished in those time worn buildings. Yet, when my daughter was a toddler I realized that my restless life on the road overseas did not work for my growing family and that is when I began my own company as a freelance designer – Robin’s Nest Designs.
So – here we are today – I still love to create, and MAKE. You can find me in my sunny studio revitalizing furniture with colorful patterns and stories, painting pottery with vibrant glazes and a tiny brush, or rendering a commission on paper or canvas in my illustrative style of painting. Self-taught, I paint the natural world as I see it an a fanciful vocabulary of color and pattern. My style is decorative and naive, influenced by the traditional folk arts of Eastern Europe and America. My greatest inspiration is this profound and majestic world in which we live. It is this magnificent rhapsody that I endeavor to express with my work.
“There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
My work has been featured in the following publications:
Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion
Better Homes and Gardens
Bon Apetit Magazine