Featured Designer: My Mother Mabel

FK chats to David & Jemima about their Tasmanian based jewellery label, My Mother Mabel.

Can you tell us about your jewellery label?
My Mother Mabel was born in the age of laser-cut bunnies and reindeer, but went into hibernation when we realized how hollow and boring it was emailing vector files interstate for processing, gluing on brooch backs and passing the results off as entirely our own work. Then we came by a slab of dirty old ply and a very noisy floor sander, clamped it upside-down and got to work driving our neighbours crazy. It was infinitely more satisfying.

What materials do you work with, and what do you love exploring in your work?
We primarily work with plywood and acrylic sheet and have also just started exploring the possibilities of resin. We started out using only recycled offcuts, but quickly milked our local plastic-man dry, though if your piece is black and/or white we can still guarantee we saved it all from landfill.

Plywood is beautiful, easy to work and very cheap, but loses its strength when you’re working small, weathers pretty quickly, and only comes in brown, brown and brown. Acrylic can be all the colours of the rainbow and cops one hell of a beating. It’s the perfect marriage.

Each piece of ply/acrylic is entirely hand cut, shaped and finished, so every time we get to work there’s the possibility of something new popping out. And resin is a pandora’s box of creativity –  but we don’t and will never sell straight out of the mould – our itchy hands and our bench-sander will never allow it.


What is your background and what was the motivation behind starting up ‘my mother mabel’?
We’ve got no formal artistic training whatsoever, but grew up surrounded by art, artists, beautiful objects and beautiful country, with an ingrained appreciation for them all. Always too broke to buy style, we made our own, and soon realised others wanted it too – so we decided to give it to them.

 What do you find most challenging about having your own label, and what do you love the most?
The dry side is surely the most challenging: book-keeping, marketing, filling an order when a new idea is just itching to be realised. There’s a lot of prep involved in every piece we put out, and some of the process is as boring as bat shit, but the payoff is beautiful.

Right now were getting ready for the busy season, and most of what we do falls into the bat shit category. We’re really looking forward to showing Syd and Mel what we’re all about, then taking a breather, playing around with a few new materials and a lot of new ideas, and making our way back up to Australia with a suitcase full of gaudy new years resolutions.

 What are some of your favourite sources of inspiration online?
We made friends very early on with the girls at modamuse, and love what they do for us and other Australian designers. Our friends Gabbee Stolp, Ali Pyrke, Cat Rabbit, Emma Bugg, Megan Perkins and many other insanely creative Hobartian’s are always delighting us, but we try not to look too closely at what other people are doing – at home or elsewhere – especially in the jewellery realm.

Most of our inspiration is very much offline and not at all jewellery or fashion related: architecture, furniture, our boy’s building blocks, the materials themselves: it keeps things fresh and unaffected when your not constantly looking over your shoulder at what others are doing.

 What are some of your plans for the label in the future?
We’d like to see our stuff in a few more stores and it’s always a thrill seeing something we made strutting down the high street, but we’ve got no plans for global domination. Ultimately, if we can make a living doing what we do without repeating ourselves too much we’ll be happy.

We were advised some time ago by someone much more successful than us to ‘just keep doing the same thing for a couple of years and eventually it’ll catch on’, but that’s the last thing we want to do. There’s just the two of us and we don’t want to be a factory, so when we start feeling like we’re becoming one it means it’s just time to start making something new. And the only thing we ever plan to outsource are the books!



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