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Q&A: Ruby Phyllis

18 AUGUST 2020

Founder of Ruby Phyllis, Bianca Batstone creates pieces that reflect her commitment to artisanal clothing and accessories. Each Ruby Phyllis piece is handmade using unconventional materials, combining decade-old textiles and embellishments with metallic thread using a bespoke technique that gives form to her unique accessories.

We caught up with Bianca to talk slow fashion and learn more about the intricate technique used to create her soft wearable sculptures. Explore a range of Ruby Phyllis at MoB Shop.

When did you decide to pursue Ruby Phyllis? What inspired you?

In my teens I loved making unique clothes to wear for myself. I would spend hours op-shopping and at the markets looking for amazing real vintage pieces to have recut and re-sewn to fit me perfectly. A lot of the pieces I still enjoy wearing today. One day I was wearing one of my bespoke hand painted invisible thread tops and the owners of a Brisbane boutique spotted me wearing it and placed an order. They sold out over the first weekend, so it was from that initial order that Ruby Phyllis was born.

The technique you use to create your pieces is unique and intricate. Can you describe the process and tell us what drew you to this technique?

I started hand wrapping recycled and vintage fabrics in metallic threads when living in London back in 2005. I was making bespoke one-of-a-kind embellished invisible thread tops at the time and, with all the beautiful off cuts from cutting up vintage dresses and recycled clothing that I had collected, I started experimenting with different ways to turn the scraps into something wearable. First, I started making belts and bangles then I moved onto hand stitching handbags and earrings into soft sculptural forms. It seems to keep evolving and I love it that way.

Earrings by Ruby Phyllis
Ruby Phyllis earrings. Courtesy Ruby Phyllis.
How long does it take for you to make each piece?

Depending on the piece anywhere from two hours to two weeks. It really is slow fashion!

You must have an incredible personal collection of jewellery by now. Do you have any go to pieces?

Yes, I do have rather an eclectic collection of jewellery from all different places and eras. Any sentimental jewellery from my mum, sisters or friends always make me feel special when I wear them. My current go-to favourites are a clear lucite and green glass neck piece and a pair of Ruby Phyllis earrings I made recently to take on holidays.

How does living in Brisbane influence your creative practice?

I try and create using sustainable and ethical materials wherever I can. Living by the bay and seeing it every day is a reminder of how precious and beautiful nature is and it makes me really want to look after it and do my bit.

Ruby Phyllis studio
Ruby Phyllis home studio. Courtesy Ruby Phyllis.
Your jewellery epitomises the concept of slow fashion with every piece hand made by you in your studio. Can you share with us why sustainable practices are important to you?

I have three children and I worry what the world will look like in 50 years for them. Hopefully I’m showing them I care about their future and about the environment by playing my part.

What does a day in the life of Bianca look like? Tell us about your creative process?

Every day is different. By the time I drop off the girls at school and do a quick tidy up it’s usually around 10 by the time I get cracking. I work for a few hours before it’s time to pick up the girls again. I can be working one on one with a client making bespoke clothing or making a collection of earrings for one of my stockists. At the beginning of a new piece or collection I make a big mess and throw around different fabrics and materials until I get the feel and idea for what I want to create. Then it slowly comes to life. It’s a very tactile and intuitive process.

Do you have any exciting projects coming up for Ruby Phyllis?

Yes! I have recently moved into my studio so once I finish a few commissions and orders I will focus on opening it up for you all to come and visit!


Earrings by Ruby Phyllis
Ruby Phyllis earrings. Courtesy Ruby Phyllis.

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