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CBR RAW Awards: Fionna Tamin

Michelle Brotohusodo

Creativity, determination, and talent. To me, these words encapsulate the 2015 RAW Canberra Accessories Designer of the Year, and my friend, Fionna Tamin (who is also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met). Through her business, Peony ‘N Pearl (formerly Fenon), Fionna creates some of the most magical jewellery and floral art you will ever see.

It was through her jewellery that I first met Fionna back in 2012. I’d had a rough few days at work and, as many of us do, had decided to treat myself to something nice as a pick-me-up. So I found myself in Shop Handmade, where I was drawn to Fionna’s creations. I managed to limit myself to just one pair of earrings (at the time—my collection has grown substantially since then), and found her business page on Facebook to tell her how much I loved her designs. We hit it off, and I am now proud to call her my friend.

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Fionna with her award winning Starry Night design (photo supplied by Fionna Tamin)

 

Since meeting Fionna, it’s been a pleasure to watch her talents and ventures grow, and I was thrilled to be able to interview her for HerCanberra and to share her story. Please read on, and enjoy!

How did you become interested in floristry and jewellery-making? Were they things you always wanted to do?

I actually have a musical background. It was during the final year of my music degree at ANU in 2007 that I realised music wasn’t going to work out for me, and that I needed to do something different. I’ve always been creative and I love flowers, so I looked at floristry courses, and that was that! I started taking floristry lessons on weekends, and also learning how to make wire jewellery as a distraction from my job at the time. Wire jewellery and floristry are surprisingly interconnected in their mechanics, which is one of the reasons I decided to do both.

So how did you go from doing floristry for fun to becoming a full-time florist and jeweller?

It’s been an interesting journey! After finishing my music degree, I got my first floristry job in 2007, it was just casual work. But then I had to move back to Indonesia for a few years for family reasons. I kept taking floristry classes while I was there, until I returned to Canberra in 2010 to get married. When I came back I had trouble getting another floristry job. And when I finally got one, I was fired after my first day! My confidence was shot, and I thought that was it for me in floristry, so I went and worked in other areas—and kept making jewellery in my spare time—until I got a call from a florist in 2011 offering me a job. I also started selling my jewellery in Shop Handmade that year.

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Fionna at one of her early market stalls (photo supplied by Fionna Tamin)

 

In 2013 I undertook a formal CIT course in floristry. It was actually two year course but I got a waiver for the first year. My studies at CIT helped me to get my confidence back, and I entered a few competitions. I came third in the Purely Australian category of the 2013 Wildflowers Australia National Student Floristry Competition, with a design inspired by JMW Turner’s painting Disaster at Sea. I also won the Smithers Oasis Design Cup Competition at the Sydney Royal Easter Show with a design based on Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night (the theme was tribute to a fallen star), and came second in Floriade’s Passion for Fashion competition.

 

After finishing my studies at CIT and regaining my confidence, and with some experience under my belt, I decided to start my own business in 2014, to encompass both my floristry and jewellery. I recently changed my business name from Fenon to Peony ‘N Pearl, which I feel is more reflective of what I do.

[Author’s note: I mentioned before that Fionna is one of the nicest people I know. Her CIT classmates clearly thought so too, as she also won the 2013 CIT Best Female Trade Student Rotary Club Award. Nominees need to have demonstrated a high standard of craftsmanship and personal conduct, and be recognised by their peers as having constantly displayed concern for others in their work group.]

Where do you get your ideas for your floral and jewellery creations?

It might sound odd, but music has a strong influence on both my floral and jewellery designs. My floristry is inspired and influenced by my teacher in Indonesia, Andy Djati Utomo, whose style is based on intricate Indonesian designs and European floristry masters. I like to play with colours, do different things and create unique atmospheres.

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Fionna created this flower chandelier for a wedding (photo: Fionna Tamin)

 

As for my jewellery, I am self-taught and chose to work with wire because I wanted a medium that has endless design possibilities. I have a sketchbook that I take with me on road trips, in which I doodle new designs. Inspiration for my jewellery can come from an interesting cut of gemstone, mixing colour combinations and materials, or an interesting technique that I’ve never tried before. I also follow other wire artists to keep me inspired.

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Fionna’s detailed design process (photo: Fionna Tamin)

 

What’s your dream for Peony ‘N Pearl?

I am an artist first and foremost, so my dream is to keep creating art for the next few decades. I think life is short and we need to make the most of it, so I want to live my life creating beautiful things and sharing them with people as much as possible. This includes working with clients and transforming their dreams into reality, and collaborating with other artists, like I’ve done with Kartika from Swish Vintage, Vicky Kidd-Gallichan from Rockstars and Royalty, and Lori Cicchini. 

What’s a fun fact about you that people might not know?

During uni some friends and I recorded a CD and one of the songs I wrote and sung was played on ArtSound FM. Writing and recording was a lot of fun. 

Where can people find you?

I’ll be at Hustle & Scout this weekend. I also sell my jewellery at the Handmade Market, Night Market Canberra, and the Three Sixty Fashion Market, and online—my website is currently being redeveloped as part of the business name change, but I have an Etsy shop and a Facebook page. And I’ll have a shop in the Canberra Outlet Centre over the four weekends in August 2015, which was one of my prizes from the RAW Awards. For floristry services, I have photos of my work at my market stalls and on my Facebook page (and on my website when it’s up and running), or you can contact me through my Etsy or Facebook pages. I do wedding and event flowers, installations, photoshoots—I love a challenge and doing different things, so whatever people’s ideas are, I’d love to hear them!

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Michelle Brotohusodo

Michelle moved to Canberra vowing to stay for two years, tops. 10 years later, she’s a bona fide Canberra convert. When she’s not working in her day job as a public servant, she’s enjoying Canberra’s culinary delights or finding fun things to do/see in and around town. More about the Author