Thursday, May 29, 2008

Robin McGauley ... Ontario, Canada

Artist: Robin McGauley
Business: RDMdesign
Web site:
Location: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

What do you create?
I create little tiny pieces of wearable art – usually called jewellery.

Where and when do you do your creative work?
I have a room in my house that is called my "art room". It is a great little spot for all my silversmithing equipment and jewelers bench. I create on my time off from work.

Do you have another "day job"?
I am an Ordained Minister with the United Church of Canada serving as Coordinator of Adult Programming at an Education and Retreat Centre called Five Oaks. I work for three weeks in this job and then have a whole week off to spend in my 'art room' creating (my husband and I call it 'tinkering'). I feel really lucky to have such a wonderful day job that allows me time to be creative and pursue my other interests.

Where and what did you study?
I have a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Religious Studies from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. I also have a Master of Divinity from the Vancouver School of Theology. It was while I was doing my Masters that I really felt a yearning to be an artist and use my hands. I was on internship in Nova Scotia and found out about the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design where they offer Continuing Education courses in jewellery making. I signed up for a full year of courses, and was hooked. I decided that after I graduated from my Masters I would take a year off to take more silversmithing and art classes. Since then I have taken courses at the Vancouver Community College and at the Haliburton School of the Arts to gain more skill in my craft.

Where do you find inspiration?
I actually find the materials and tools themselves to be quite inspiring. I am amazed at what metal can do. I feel like I am just beginning this journey as an artisan and so when I get a new tool or some new equipment I usually spent lots of time being inspired by what it can do, and what it can add to my work.

What motivates you?
I often feel like I don't have a choice but to be creative. When I don't spend time using my hands I start to feel uneasy, like I have too much bottled up energy.

When did you start doing this?
I took my first course almost six years ago.

Do you remember getting into art as a kid?
I was a totally crafty kid. I did really badly in school as a child because instead of studying I would sit in my room and do arts and crafts. I used to make beaded necklaces all the time as a youth. It is funny though because I never took art classes, not even at school. That seems so strange to me now and I often regret that I didn't.

When and why did you decide to start your own business?
I really never envisioned selling my work. For a few years I just made on-of-a-kind pieces that I wasn't able to part with because they were so special to me. One day I decided that I had too much jewellery so I started making five or six pieces of the same design. I also started making rings that were too big for me so that I wouldn't keep them. I set up my store on Etsy because I had to get rid of these extra pieces somehow.

How did you choose the name for your business?
I actually wanted to be called 'Divine Design' but then I noticed that there is a TV show called that, so I had to come up with something else. RDM are my initials (Robin Donalda McGauley) – it just seemed to make sense and is also easy to stamp on to the back of my pieces.

What do you love most about creating your work?
I love how relaxing it is to create. I experience creativity as meditation – time when I feel most grounded and myself.

What's the most fascinating place you've been?
I lived at a Castle in England for seven months where I did my first year of University. It was called Herstmonceux Castle and was built in 1441. There was a moat and everything!

A book you love:
My husband and I read The Tao of Pooh to each other before bed over the course of several weeks – it was so great!

What is the most interesting thing about you?
Given that I am a United Church Minister, people are usually surprised to hear that I am also a silversmith. But I think those who will be reading this interview would probably be more surprised by the fact that I am a minister.

What achievement are you most proud of?
At this point I am so proud (and am still pinching myself) that my work is being sold in the gift shop at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo.

What advice would you give women starting their own business?
Trust that magical things can happen when you are doing what you love and yearn to do.

What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
Being original. It is really hard to come up with a concept or a design that hasn't been done by somebody already.

What do you love to do in your free time?
I spend most of my free time creating.

What are you working on right now?
A couple of weeks ago I spent quite a bit of time designing some new pieces – mostly pendants. These pieces have multiple parts, some hollow, some stone settings, some combinations of silver, copper and brass. I was feeling the urge to create some things that are more complex and interesting since so far my designs have been quite simple I think. I am also working on a series of hollow rings of various shapes. My impulse has always been to bring things to a high polish finish, so with these rings I am trying to create a lot of texture on the silver first and then fabricate the rings.

What do you hope to achieve next?
My next goal is to be in a craft show – I haven't done that yet.


  1. AWESOME! Talk about some gorgeous creations. When I grow up I want to be just like...oh wait, I am grown up. LOL

    BTW, I love your blog and how you feature different wonderfully creative, artistic and crafty folks so I have featured your blog as my Blog of the Day today (still working on finishing my post, so bear with me.) Thought you might like to know and hope you'll come check it out.

    Thanks...and keep sharing all the good stuff with us. :)

  2. Great designs, great photos, will keep following this blog :)

  3. I am amazed at what metal can do. I feel like I am just beginning this journey as an artisan and so when I get a new tool or some new equipment I usually spent lots of time being inspired by what it can do, and what it can add to my work.

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