I’m really excited to introduce jewellery designer Rheana Bijl of Knitted Window to you today as we are now stocking some of her pieces in the store. In fact, we love her work so much that we actually wanted to keep all of them ourselves!
Rheana works with all things sustainable – from her bio-based eco-resin to the sprigs of nature she encases inside. You name it, she’ll consider using it – from colourful 100s and 1000s candy sprinkles to feathers, coffee beans and teensy paper cranes. The resin she works with is actually used for surfboards so is extremely hard-wearing and, of course, waterproof. What sets her apart is her originality. Who said wearing jewellery had to be boring!
Jewellery designer Rheana Bijl
Please introduce yourself. What’s your background and how have you ended up where you are today?
I started my career as a photographer. Working with resin is very similar, in that I can take something so delicate and create a snapshot of time. I love that my jewellery can capture the essence of life in its still form – just like a photograph.
The process of working with resin to make jewellery came to me very quickly. I spent the majority of my teenage years working with my dad. He would build fibre glass boats from start to finish and I would be there learning and taking note every step of the way. I never realised then just how much I would be glad for the tips he gave me.
Where do you source your materials from?
I pay special attention to where I source the items that go into my pieces. My feathers are from cruelty-free farms. They are raised organically and humanely their entire lives. My plants, wheat and moss are pesticide-free and organic, and are hand-picked myself from little independent organic farms including our own wheat farm in Northam, Western Australia. My coffee beans are also fair trade and organic.
Upcycling and sustainability is clearly important to you. Tell us how you ensure you follow these principles in your work, work practices and home life?
I proudly use an eco-resin that is traditionally used for making surfboards. Which makes it UV resistant, waterproof and even hypoallergenic. Most importantly it is sourced from biobased renewable materials sourced as co-products from waste streams of other industrial processes, such as wood pulp and bio-fuels production.
What do you do or where do you go for inspiration?
Nature and life are my biggest inspirations. Ideas usually come to me at the strangest times, whether it be out at a cafe for a cup of coffee, throwing the ball to the dog, or watching the waves crashing on the beach.
How easy/difficult was it going out on your own?
I already had the industrial and technical knowledge up my sleeve and my family and friends supported me along the way. I have an adventurous positive spirit which makes me try new things. I didn’t really think about how difficult or easy is was going to be; I just wanted to create and experiment. The rest followed.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give others wanting to do the same?
Just start. It is so rewarding, I originally started with a single item for myself, now I’ve sold to more than 130 counties around the world and have more than 200 products. I have made mistakes, and have had times where I was at the point of giving up. But every mistake is proof you’re trying and a step forward in your adventure. You have to start somewhere. Do not give up; the beginning is always the hardest.
My guilty pleasure is …?
Listening to science podcasts. I’m secretly a science nerd. Chemistry, physics, black holes, time travel, anything science. You’ll often find me in the studio listening to science podcasts back-to-back for hours at a time. There’s also a lot of chemistry and physics working with resin. My studio even has its own vacuum chamber for taking the air bubbles out of the resin while its setting.
I’m currently working on …
I’m currently working on a mini origami range. Tiny cranes, tiny boats and even tiny origami dragons. I love learning new skills and folding miniature origami has proven to be an exciting new challenge. I’m also working on adding different shaped bangles and pendants to my collection.
The best thing about living in Northam, Western Australia is …?
My home. I live in a 1930’s renovated cottage with high pressed-tin ceilings and fire places in every room. I can’t help but be creative in this space.
Not surprisingly my studio is the biggest space in the house. The wheat and guinea fowl feathers that feature in my bangles come from the family farm.
Have you ever had a ‘who’d have thought’ moment?
When someone sees my work for the first time they always start listing their own unique ideas – some are crazy and all are absolutely brilliant. These are my who’d of thought moments.
Come and visit the store to find her unique jewellery.
You can also find Rheana on Facebook.