Bay Area Makers Spotlight: Jess Wainer and Rachel T. Robertson

We are getting excited to kick off the holidays with our first trunk show this coming Saturday 1-4pm.  Bay Area glass artist Jess Wainer and designer Rachel T. Robertson will be in the shop with so many great items for sale!  

We were able to catch them for a quick Q & A:  

Tell us a little about yourself.  

JW: My name is Jess Wainer and I am a glass artist in Oakland, CA. I started blowing glass 12 years ago in Ohio, where I grew up.

RR: I am a San Francisco artist and designer that grew up in Wisconsin in the 1970’s and 80’s. I have spent over 20 years designing and crafting retail displays and still work full-time as the Display Coordinator for the San Francisco Anthropologie store. I spend most of my free time ‘making’ and usually have a number of projects going at one time which makes my husband a little crazy. Even though I have a small studio work-space near by, I still enjoy working in my sunny home on knitting and sewing projects. I love very fine pens, edges, simple clothes, biking just about anywhere, nubby fabric, hills on the horizon, hand knit sweaters and making beautiful things.  

I am an avid Instagrammer ( and I also still have lots of photos over on Flickr ( 


How did you get started making beautiful things?

JW: I earned my BFA in Glass from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2004 and have been designing and making blown glass art for commercial and residential spaces every since. But my love of art making began much earlier than that. I remember feeling a deep connection to drawing, painting, and writing as a very young girl. My relationship with art has been the longest, deepest relationship of my life

RR: I have been ‘making’ as long as I can remember. I grew up surrounded by art and design. My father had a furniture shop/design business (and also painted and illustrated) from the 1960’s onward so I was surrounded by beautiful things, modern furniture, art and books. My dad was always drawing and designing and it had a huge impact on me. I grew up creating, drawing, and crafting (especially sewing with my Mom). My mom is a fantastic seamstress as well as a genius with knitting needles and was always either sewing clothes for us or busy knitting a sweater that I, basically, art-directed her to make for me. Making things has always been the norm and it is what gives my life meaning.

What inspires you?

JW: I find inspiration from colors, patterns, and forms that occur in nature, and the contours of the human form. 

RR: In general, I am inspired by clean but warm modern design (especially mid-century modern), architecture, textile design and the mix of Japanese/Scandinavian design. Lately, I have been incredibly inspired by fibers, knitting, 1960’s and 1970’s weaving, plants and ceramics. Commune design has some inspiring work, Sheila Hicks blows my mind, my mom’s hand-knit wall hangings amaze me and a couple months ago I saw the Richard Diebenkorn show at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco and it brought tears to my eyes.    

What are you working on now? 

JW: Right now I am busy making gift items for the holiday season and working on a residential lighting and sculpture project in San Francisco. For that project I am designing and making pendant lights for the kitchen, illuminated glass sculptures for the walls, and an illuminated glass ceiling for the penthouse.

RR: I have been working on new necklace designs incorporating leather wraps, tabs and shapes as well as wooden beads. I also just recently learned how to hand-spin yarn and am interested in working my own hand-spun yarn into my jewelry. I have also been making small hand-knit wall plant pockets (inspired by my mom) and sewn canvas wall pockets. I would love to do more with leather and work on some wall hangings incorporating knitting and sewing.

kerri johnson

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