Designer Feature | Tiro Tiro

Designed by Portland-based Teresa Robinson, Tiro Tiro is a small line of art objects and jewelry. Informed by traditional craft practices, each piece is designed for everyday use. We spoke with Teresa recently about the life, the collection, and inspiration.

Photography by George Barberis

Where did the name Tiro Tiro come from? Tell us about your origins.

Tiro Tiro can actually be translated a few different ways in different languages, but I took my name from the latin definition, meaning a beginner or novice. I like to be able to explore different materials and techniques, both in my work in the studio, and in various little projects outside of work. So I like the idea that you can always be a beginner at something.

What does a typical day in the studio like? Walk us through a day in the life.

My work days have shifted a bit since I had my daughter last year. Having my studio at home has allowed me to have a fairly flexible work schedule for the past few years, but as any self employed parent can tell you, you really have to maximize your child free hours! I’m still learning to be a morning person, but my baby gets me up at 7-ish most days, and then it’s usually a bit of a rush to get her fed, dressed, and dropped off at daycare by around 8. After that I come home, get some coffee going, and do a little morning internet-ing and answering emails at the kitchen table. These days I’m trying to spend a little time in the morning pulling inspiration for my next look book. I head out to the studio around 10:30, and spend mid-morning taking care of odds and ends, doing a little bit of production work, pulling orders, dealing with repairs, etc. My studio assistant, Zoe, comes in once a week to do all of our shipping and check inventory, and get the production line up sorted.  I tend to have a late lunch, and then after that, settle in to work on wax carvings for the new collection for at least a couple of hours before it’s time to head to pick up my daughter. On rare occasions, I’ll actually make it back out to the studio after her bedtime to sneak a little more work in, but most evenings I end up knitting on the couch.

How has the landscape and culture of the Pacific Northwest informed your work?

That’s really hard to say! I’ve lived in the PNW almost all my life, so it’s difficult to pick out one particular way that I’ve been influenced by living here. I moved to Portland right after college, and I think the culture in Portland in the early 2000s really allowed me the time and space to start making jewelry and entertain the idea that I might be able to make a living off of creative work. I’m not sure if I would have been able to do that if I were living anywhere else. This city is changing really rapidly, but I still really value the creative community that I’ve found here. Having the support and camaraderie of other artists and makers has been really integral to the survival of a creative business over the years.

What are you looking at currently for inspiration?

I’ve been looking at a lot of modernist jewelry and sculpture these days. Art Smith, Betty Cook, Calder, Bertoia, some vintage Gucci, Georg Jensen. I’m continually attracted to simple geometric forms, and find my work is getting a little cleaner and more structured as a result.

What’s next for the line?

For the new collection, I was able to collaborate with a friend who runs a local ceramics company, Pigeon Toe, to make some custom tinted porcelain pieces that will be used in the new line. I wanted to move away from using fiber, and fell in love with ceramics when I took a wheel throwing class a couple of years back, and since then, have been wanting to incorporate ceramic work into my designs. So that will be new element that I’m excited about exploring. I’m also looking forward to finally making some small sculptural pieces and homewares objects to complement the jewelry line.

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