Ragged Robyn is a successful ceramic jewellery business based in Tongwynlais. I met owner Robyn Cove outside The Lewis Arms to talk about her work, the village and running a small business.
Robyn is originally from Dumfries in south west Scotland and first came to Cardiff to do a degree in ceramics, before returning to live on Skye. After a brief time in Yorkshire, she moved back to Wales and settled in Tongwynlais. The jewellery maker told me that she comes from an artistic family and that she’s always been interested in ceramics. She used to be a support worker for adults with learning disabilities, but Ragged Robyn is now her full time job.
I had the chance to look at some of Robyn’s recent work and she explained her process, “To make the beads I press clay into textures collected from nature, thrift shops, markets, and boot sales. I adore rustic old bits and bobs, unwanted objects that have just a fragment of glistening surface like a memory of a past time.” I was surprised how light the pieces were, assuming that ceramic jewellery would be heavy.
We talked about the village and I asked if the surroundings influence her. Robyn told me, “My work incorporates elements from the woodlands around Tongwynlais and the old ironwork from the coal route along the Taff Trail. I’m fascinated by dormant and broken industrial machinery.”
All her jewellery is made by hand and the intricate work on each piece takes days to finish. Robyn explained that she has very little time to herself at the moment but the passion for her work keeps her motivated. The majority of her customers are in the United States but she wants to make more of an impact in Wales and the rest of the UK. The administrative side of running the business isn’t her favourite part and admits that marketing is something she needs to work on.
I was intrigued where the name of her company came from. Robyn says, “The name Ragged Robyn has stuck with me from a time when I made felt clothing, it suits my style, dark ancient, worn with ragged edges, these are things that come through in everything I make.”
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