This week we are talking to Ashley of Ashley Akers Jewelry
What inspires you?
My raw materials inspire me. Not so much the metal itself, but whatever material I am designing my piece around. I love to incorporate color and texture into my work and use varied media to do that. Polymer clay, gemstones, pebbles, fabric, enamel, and more recently, plastic aquarium plants, all make appearances in my designs. Really, no non-perishable material is off limits in my mind! Sterling, Copper and sometimes Gold become the framework for these materials. They are, of course, quite important in my designs, but the colorful raw materials are what really inspire me.
How does your design process work/How do you come up with new ideas?
Sometimes I sit down and sketch a design and one idea leads to the next. I don't do this as often as I used to, but all my years of sketches still provide inspiration. Lately I sit down with whatever materials I am using and just start playing around until the design and a construction plan come together in my mind. A design might change and morph during the process of making the piece depending on what works and what doesn't. I have plenty of unfinished pieces and sometimes go back to those with a fresh perspective.
How do you stay motivated?
Taking a break from production work and working on larger, one of a kind pieces helps. I have been participating in the Etsy Metal Project Runway Challenge and am finding it quite inspiring. Despite the fact that I just started a new job, after working on jewelry full time for the last three years, I am feeling more motivated lately. Learning new techniques is also quite motivational. I have a long list of tools and techniques that I would like to incorporate into my work including, adding texture to metal via etching, a rolling mill, repousse and fold forming. (Hmm, it looks like adding texture to metal is something that is missing in my work and needs to be addressed!) I also plan to continue to explore new materials, such as wood, and always find that inspirational. My most recent piece for the Project Runway Challenge was made with Plastic Aquarium Plants, and I already have more ideas for working with those.
Do you ever find yourself in a creative rut? If so how do you get out of it?
Definitely! Getting inventory ready for shows is always a good way to get myself working. I thrive on deadlines and am a procrastinator if I don't have them. However, the work I do for shows is mostly production work, which is repetitive and can drain my creativity quickly. I must flex those creative muscles and come up with new designs to keep myself inspired. I prefer to make larger, one of a kind pieces and find that work much more inspiring. It is also important for me to play, experiment and truly have fun with my work. These things inevitably lead to a new finished piece of jewelry as well.
Do you make other things besides jewelry?
Oh yes! I have, what I have heard a fellow metalsmith cal,l Creative ADD. I want to make all kinds of things, not just jewelry. I want to work in the garden, sew, make my house look nice, crochet, cook, bake, etc. I just have to make things, but staying focused on making jewelry is difficult at times.
Fiber Cuff made with Needle Felted Silk and Wool, Sterling, Copper and Brass Nuts and Bolts