Wednesday Indie Artist Fixx with Small Things

I know you all have heard of small things jewelry. It’s been around since 2002 and I swear just about every brick and mortar indie shop I visit has a few small things designs. The proprietress and designer behind smallthings, Teresa Robinson, learned to make jewelry on a whim when she took a class while studying to be a painter in Mexixo. What started out as a fancy, turned into a full-time interest as she started dreaming about soldering little bits of metal and stopped thinking about painting. Teresa’s designs still retain a little bit of that original whimsy in them and for that I am glad.

I’m also glad that Teresa agreed to be interviewed for this week’s Indie Artist Fixx. Read more about Teresa and smallthings in my interview with her below.

Also, I’m working on the interview schedule for May, so if you have any suggestions of indie artists and designers that you’d like to see featured, just send me an email or leave a comment on this and I will see if I can’t arrange an interview.



1. What’s the name of your business and what do create and sell?

smallthings. We make jewelry from sterling silver and glass.

2. When did you get started with your business and why did you decide to open your own indie biz?

I started smallthings in the fall of 2002. I was really bummed on my job situation, and knew that what I really wanted to was to be able to make a living being creative. And I really wasn’t thinking about it being a ‘business’, all I knew is that I wanted to make jewelry and sell it. I had no idea what I was getting into! But it’s worked out pretty well so far.


3. What’s the creative process like for you?

Honestly, it can be little tough these days. It can be really hard to find the time and freedom to create new work when you’re already overwhelmed with the other aspects of running a business. I always feel a lot of pressure to make things in to cohesive collections, make sure they’re gonna sell, etc. Being creative on demand is a tricky business. So really, I feel like the best stuff happens when I’m able to just let that all go and just play around. When I have an hour here or there in the studio and am just kind of goofing off, and start making something with no intention of fitting it into a grander scheme of things. Sometimes the best stuff just evolves out of that….


4. What’s been your biggest accomplishment so far?

Oh gosh, I don’t know. I guess getting to the point where I was able to support myself and pay all my bills with this little business. It still feels pretty great.


5. What’s the best thing about what you do? And the worst?

Best: being my own boss! Getting to make things for a living. My job involves cutting up metal and a tiny blowtorch… which is just kind of awesome.

Worst: being my own boss! Some days I do think that it might be easier if there was someone else to tell me what to do. But really I wouldn’t trade it for the world.


6. What blogs and mags do you read and what shops do you shop at? List as many as you want.

Current top 3 bookmarked blogs: go fug yourself, which is totally hilarious fashion commentary.
pink is the new blog-trashy celebrity gossip fix.
dooce-on living in Utah and raising a toddler among other things.
Also I really enjoy what did you buy today– daily drawings of the things the author has purchased. Another new one is 1000 demons– another drawing a day site, but these are all of all life’s tiny annoyances.

Shops and stuff: here in Portland I am a sucker for all the shoes at Imelda’s on Hawthorne. Seaplane for fancy clothes. Thrifting for lots of things. Otherwise, I’m really into Etsy for awesome affordable art finds these days. I’m working on a wall of bird-themed prints. Also I pretty much want to own everything they sell at the curiosity shoppe….


7. Were you an artsy craftsy kid? If so, what kinds of things did you do?

Totally. Both of my parents are artists, so art was a huge part of my growing up. Drawing, painting, sewing, you name it.


8. If a genie came along and granted you one wish, what would it be?

For my business to magically work and be reasonably successful forever and ever. For other people to always think that what I make is awesome.

9. What does indie mean to you? You can give a literal definition, choose to be a little esoteric or a combination of both. 😉

For me, indie mostly just means doing it on your own. As far as a business goes, I think in the most literal sense, it means starting something form the ground up without the aid of big bucks or investors. Keeping things handmade, working within your community…


10. What are you reading, watching and listening to?

Reading: The Wind up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, the New Kings of Non-fiction, Bon Apetit magazine, US Weekly.

Watching: I will say with no shame that I totally just finished watching the entire series of The O.C. and was totally hooked. Also I just watched that movie Rocket Science last night and enjoyed it very much.

Listening to: Just saw Leslie and the Lys play here in Portland last night. It kind of takes a lot for me to actually go to a show these days, and this one was freaking amazing. That woman is a genius. Other things: Tegan and Sarah, The Blow, Beirut, Feist, Gossip… mostly all the usual emo stuff. Oh, and the Lip Gloss song is still my current favorite dance jam.


11. What are your inspirations?

Ooh, why is this such a hard question? It varies so much. Nature, obviously. Things that are cute….
Keeping things simple. Glamour. Fanciness. I’m kind of all over the place these days.


12. What’s new for 2008? Any new plans or products that you want to share?

We actually just started a new little side project here: Trashy Deluxe. This was one of those things that started from a day of goofing around in the studio, and I just kind of went with it.

Also, I’m working on a new line of smallthings stuff that is very forest-themed. Tiny portraits of forest creatures and such, it’s got a little bit more of an illustrative influence. I’ve been doing a lot of drawings of tiny animals these days. That should be ready for the world by late summer….



  1. I’m so glad you posted this! My fiance got me one of her necklaces for Christmas, and it’s my favorite! I love her jewelry. Now I’m drooling over all those rings…. 🙂

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