in their own words: Riin Gill

In their own words is a new series — I’ve invited artists, designers, and creators I know to share what drives their big projects. This time we hear from Riin Gill; you may remember her yarn and fiber business, Happy Fuzzy Yarns. After closing that venture, she found a way to combine her continued love of fiber and making jewelry. Today she released a new collection, jewelry for yarn lovers.

I’ve been a maker for as long as I can remember. You may remember my work with fiber (I used to own Happy Fuzzy Yarn), but I’ve made jewelry and worked with fiber since I was a kid. I’ve always loved beads and metal and rocks and found objects. I remember making earrings out of cotter pins and fishing lures. After college, I worked in a bead store for six years, and I learned a lot about working with wire, stringing, knotting, braiding, all kinds of beadwork.

Handmade sterling silver poppy earrings - silver poppies - silver flower earrings - hammered poppies

Handmade sterling silver poppy earrings. Photo: Riin Gill.

When I looked at the numbers and recognized that Happy Fuzzy Yarn wasn’t a sustainable business for me, I decided to return to what excited me — jewelry. I took some metalsmithing classes to expand my skills so I could create the kind of jewelry I really wanted to make. I love metalsmithing! Both the process and the product! I love being able to change the shape of metal by hitting it with my hammer. Not only is it very cathartic (there is nothing for relieving stress like putting on the Ramones really loud and hammering metal), it’s also just really cool.

Handmade copper earrings with 1/2" vintage creamy white mother of pearl buttons

Handmade copper earrings with 1/2″ vintage creamy white mother of pearl buttons. Photo: Riin Gill.

We tend to think of metal as this solid, unchanging thing. And it is a solid. But just like any other solid, it’s made up of molecules. It’s malleable. You can hammer it and make it thinner. You can make it thinner along one edge, and once it’s thinner, it’s wider, but the excess width has to go somewhere, so it flares. You can make metal look like fabric, or like organic shapes. I love it!

I also like soldering [penny: joining two pieces of metal with a softer metal], but I really like riveting pieces together. I love the look of mixed metals, so I usually use a contrasting metal for my rivet. If I’m connecting two pieces of copper together, I’ll use a piece of sterling silver for my rivet.

Lately I’ve been making jewelry that combines metal with fiber, or metal and gemstones with fiber. I’ve named this collection, jewelry for yarn lovers. I’ve done pendants with wool before; I needle felted the wool. This time I’m making corespun yarn where I use a thin wire as the core, and then I use the wire-core yarn as a jewelry component. The possibilities are really endless. I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface of what I can do.

Handmade coil bangle with handspun yarn and jasper

Handmade coil bangle with handspun yarn and jasper. Photo: Riin Gill.

Crosshatched copper pendant with inverted dome and wirecore yarn on copper chain - handmade art jewelry - copper and wool jewelry

Crosshatched copper pendant with inverted dome and wirecore yarn on copper chain. Photo: Riin Gill.

I love the fact that I can start with sheet metal, wire, loose fiber, and tools and ideas and my hands, and make a really cool, three-dimensional, durable, wearable piece of art. That’s just awesome!

You can check out Riin’s awesome work at She’s active on instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Her jewelry can be found at her Etsy shop, including the new jewelry for yarn lovers collection.

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