Grant Robinson designs and constructs kinetic jewelry, usually in the form of animals or plants that spring to life when you push their buttons. His pieces are kinetic in the literal sense: moving only when manipulated, high-karat push-puppets with hidden springs that transform when compressed.
But his toys have to work as jewelry first. “I try to attack this by reverse-engineering it, from a wearability point of view,” Robinson says.
“I try to figure out how I can make a beautiful piece of jewelry, with a nice size and color, around an element of movement. So, it’s a nice pendant and then, boom, look at this – it moves! That’s the journey for me: designing that one-two punch, not a coo-coo clock around your neck.”
His kinetic pieces recall the classic segmented, plastic puppet push-toys where you push a button on the bottom and the limbs and head spring up – except Robinson’s are made of materials Fabergé might have used. Each is different, involving a unique challenge, and takes a long time to construct.
In short, they’re very expensive, wearable toys.
Push the pearl at the bottom of the malachite-and-gold base of Robinson’s Tree of Knowledge, and 18k branches bloom with enameled green leaves. A red enameled turtle extends his golden feet when you pull its spring-loaded head.
Not surprisingly, his jewelry appeals as much, if not more, to the men who commission it as the women who wear it. “My jewelry is a pretty straight-forward adaption of something that’s been around since push puppets were invented,” Robins says.
“But it’s small scale and made of precious material, and it ties in to the emotional joy people had as kids. That’s the selling point of these things. When people try these things out, it brings on a smile of recognition. That movement takes them back to their childhood.”
It’s hard to describe jewelry that really exists to be manipulated. Here’s a video he sent me that demonstrates one of his recent pieces: a gold lapel pin that pours ruby wine.embedded by Embedded Video
Is that insane?
For more information, visit his website.