I was super chuffed this year to be on the judging panel for the 2016 Etsy Awards! The awards celebrate the most creative Etsy Sellers in Australia and Zealand, with an incredibly diverse bunch of entrants across art, design, craft and more. This week, after much deliberation, the winners have finally been announced!
Today we’re profiling Queensland based Kirralee Robinson of Kirralee & co, one of this year’s talented winners, who took out the ‘Lasting World’ (ie. sustainable design) category! We love Kirralee’s handcrafted hanging vases, made from reclaimed wood and timber offcuts.
Based in Ipswich on the outskirts of Brisbane, Kirralee Robinson began experimenting with woodwork in 2014, and opened an Etsy store just last year. As a relatively new seller, she was surprised and, of course, super excited to learn she was a winner in this year’s Etsy Awards! ‘I first heard about the awards just after I opened my store in April last year’ she says. ‘I knew I wasn’t ready right then, but I put “Apply for Etsy awards 2016” onto the goal list. I really think that life is too short to not apply for things!’
Kirralee never intended to become a maker. She originally studied visual arts at university, with the idea that she would possibly work in an art gallery. But, as often happens, her path took a few twists and turns. Along the way, she completed a certificate in floristry, had three (!) children, and graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Arts in 2008. After spending a few years at home with her kids, working casually as a florist, in 2014 she started experimenting with woodwork. ‘Along the way, I learnt that I am a maker’ she says.
In fact, Kirralee is intuitively creative. ‘I think in shapes’ she’s says. ‘When processing an idea, I take some basic shapes, and in my mind I cut them up, turn them around and upside down until something clicks’. After that, she heads straight into the prototyping phase, combining reclaimed timber, wire, test tubes and other found materials to bring her designs to life.
Like so many creatives, Kirralee juggles a number of different roles. She’s still a florist, as well as working as an art installer and picture framer, alongside running Kirralee & co. ’My work as a picture framer interconnects with my woodworking, and the skills I learn in one job always influences another’ she says.
At the beginning of opening her business, Kirralee was very clear that everything she made for Kirralee & Co would be ‘purposeful, minimal and sustainable’. ‘I hope that my work is received as boldly minimal’ she says. ‘Art history and personal study taught me the value of minimalism and smart, sustainable design.’