“My brain just exploded and I’ve been sewing ever since to keep up with the amount of ideas I have.”
Fiercely independent, Robyn is a free spirit, perfectly equipping the 35 year-old to embark upon the ride of her life. Born and semi-bred in Bendigo (she moved away a lot), Robyn is the artist, designer and maker behind creature-craft business, The Forest Flaw, which is taking off at a rate of knots. During her first stall at The Square (Bendigo’s Handmade Market), not only did she sell a swag of creatures, she received orders for stock from Bendigo and Melbourne. Her new business is timely, with the global resurgence in the handmade unlikely to vanish any time soon. Starting The Forest Flaw in April, Robyn says the idea came to her in an epiphany, with the name appearing two days later. A serial part-time worker – “I crave time for myself,” she tells me over coffee. “Lots of freedom to create things, it’s a priority” – earlier this year she went to see a psychic.“It was weird!” she laughs at the incredulity of the story. “She kept saying to me how much people loved my sculptures and creations. And I just thought “what are you talking about?” I’d never made anything like that before”.
hats, feathers, laces – it’s in the detail.” Taking her cues from nursery rhymes, fables and folklore, The Forest Flaw occupies three sections: Creatures (foxes, rabbits, weasels and other animals); Characters (Robin Hood, Little Red Riding Hood and figures gleaned from fairytales and pop culture); and Costumes. “I make a little person inside a suit,” she explains, “like a bear or a dragon”. The attraction lies in strong visual characterisation and a perfectionism which the artist acknowledges is one of her traits. “Self-reliance is a big thing with me. I’ve always been independent. I don’t take advice very well. I like to make my own mistakes, not have them pointed out to me, and work on my own.” The end of that sentence could also be on her own terms. Growing up in a musical household, Robyn has always painted, drawn and written, and works part-time at Latrobe University library. (She’s also sung in countless Bendigo
bands). She’s surprised by the rapid success of The Forest Flaw: “I made one thing and people jumped all over it.” It now has pages on Facebook and madeit.com, after some strategic initial promotion by supportive husband Nick. (The flyers he left out at work generated her first order). At the time we spoke Robyn had just finished her 40th creature, had orders for 40 more, and was about to have her first exhibition. “If I could always do this, and create new ones [creatures], I’d be really happy just to be my own boss,” she says quietly. “It sounds funny, but I also don’t want to make a sole living from this. I don’t want to take the fun away from it. I need one day a week working on different things, to keep that balance between creative freedom and the business side.” Necessity is the mother of invention, and perhaps another visit to that psychic might help a local artist definitely on her way up… ■
The next day inspiration hit “to make creatures from the forest”. And not with orthodox materials either. “I had a new packet of tea towels”, she laughs again, “and I didn’t sew at all. But I made my very first creature, an owl, from a tea towel.” Next came a fox from socks, from which her entire range is now made. “My brain just exploded and I’ve been sewing ever since to keep up with the amount of ideas I have.” Inspired by nature and a self-taught sewer, Robyn can spend up to 10 hours on a creature, though with orders increasing she concedes “I am getting faster.” The range is defined by a distinct flare for being different. “I think because these little creatures come from my head” she answers when I ask how they differ from other handmade toys. “I add things like
issue 25 - bendigo magazine | 85
Bendigo Magazine Issue 25 - Summer 2011