LoveToKnow had the pleasure of interviewing jewelry artist Ashley Akers about her handcrafted modern art jewelry. Ashley creates modern organic art jewelry with simple and elegant designs by mixing textures, shapes and colors with unusual objects. She strives to design unique jewelry that is bold and playful.
Artist Ashley Akers
Ashley Akers graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of North Texas in 1999. Her body of work includes modern cutting edge jewelry designs featuring gemstone collages, polymer clay art, fiber creations as well as organic objects. She also had some of her jewelry featured in Reader's Digest and the art magazine, 360 West. She now works as a jewelry designer in Forth Worth, Texas.
Ashley Akers Interview
Art came naturally to Ashley Akers since her mother is an artist and her father is a craftsman. Yet, Ashley has her own unique voice in the art world.
Early Art Career Influences
LoveToKnow (LTK): How did your parents influence your art?
Ashley Akers (Akers): My dad works with wood and my parent's home is filled with his beautiful handmade furniture. My dad can also figure out how to make just about anything, he has started welding and has made me several jewelry displays and a hydraulic press…My mom is a fiber artist, though she has worked with almost any art material you can think of.
I have recently incorporated fiber into my jewelry designs, and have plans to add wood soon as well. I think the influence from my parents mostly manifested in a do-it-yourself and make-it-yourself attitude. I grew up in a home full of handmade things.
LTK: What led you to a career in jewelry design?
Akers: My parents made some jewelry in college, so when I expressed interest in jewelry making in high school my dad taught me a bit of soldering and gave me some tools…I transferred to the University of North Texas my sophomore year of college and took a metalsmithing class for the first time. I was hooked instantly and declared metals as my major. I graduated with a BFA in 1999.
For seven years I worked at a small garden shop and made my jewelry on the side. I did small local shows and didn't have many other venues for sales until I discovered Etsy in the summer of 2000. I quit my job at the garden center to work on jewelry full-time at the end of 2007.
Jewelry Style and Techniques
LTK: How would you describe your jewelry and style?
Akers: My metalwork is simple, clean and modern and creates a framework for colorful and sometimes nontraditional elements that I incorporate into my jewelry. I create bold, modern and playful pieces of jewelry.
LTK: What type of materials do you commonly work with?
Akers: My metal work is done with sterling silver and copper. I bring color and contrast to my work with gemstones, pebbles, polymer clay and fiber.
LTK: What type of jewelry techniques do you use in your art jewelry?
Akers: I hand fabricate all of my work. I primarily solder and use cold connections, such as tube rivets, for fabricating my designs. I incorporate bezel settings for both gemstones and non-traditional materials like pebbles and fiber, and more recently tab settings. I form shapes with my hydraulic press, drill holes for both function and decoration, and use my hammer for texturing. I also use saw piercing to create repetitive textural elements.
LTK: What is the story behind the Pebble Series?Akers: The pebble series started with my work at the garden shop. I was surrounded by pebbles, and had always been a rock collector. I realized that the juxtaposition of an unpolished pebble with a shiny, brightly colored gemstone was pleasing to me…I primarily use tube rivets to connect the pebbles to my metalwork, though sometimes I do set them in bezels.
I enjoy the way a found object like a pebble with no perceived value can be used in a way that makes it beautiful and striking. I also like changing the meaning of "wearing a rock". My pebble series is more subtle and simple than many of my other designs, both in color and texture.
LTK: Please describe some of your other collections.
Akers: My other collections include, textural polymer clay, collages of gemstones, and most recently the fiber work.
The polymer clay pieces have a bumpy, textural quality that I love, and I am able to create any color that I can imagine with the clay. I often use domed discs, or hydraulic press formed pieces of metal for this work and I love the three dimensionality that this creates.
In my Collage series, I frame different colors, sizes and shapes of gemstones with sterling silver. I love the tapestry effect of weaving together different gems to create a cohesive and complimentary whole. Color is so inspiring to me, and I love mixing and matching different stones to form pleasing color palettes.
My newest series is the Fiber series. My mom and I did a collaborative set of jewelry a couple of years ago. She created a piece of fiber for me with needle felting and stitching and I incorporated those into a pendant, a ring and a cuff bracelet. The pendant of this set grabs the most attention at shows, both from men and women...The newest designs utilize fabric covered buttons. My favorites are the ones that I have hand embroidered onto jewel colored silk dupioni. I bezel set the buttons like a gemstone, and they are just as beautiful as gems to me.
Artistic Vision and Playful Jewelry
LTK: What do you hope people will experience when wearing your jewelry?
Akers: I hope someone wearing my jewelry would feel that they have a striking accessory on that will set them apart from the crowd. I often incorporate moving or spinning parts into my jewelry, making for a playful wearing experience.
LTK: What is your favorite piece of jewelry and why?Akers: My wedding ring is my most cherished piece of jewelry that I have made. I made a nontraditional wedding band for myself out of yellow gold with an oval fire opal and two green tourmalines.
LTK: What are your future plans for your jewelry?
Akers: I plan to add more of my one-of-a-kind pieces to my Etsy shop. I hope to continue to participate in art fairs and eventually expand outside of Texas. As far as my designs go, I hope to utilize my hydraulic press more and be able to create more three dimensional work. I am about to start enameling again…I also have plans to incorporate wood into my work, influenced by my father's woodworking.
For More Information on Ashley Akers
LoveToKnow thanks Ashley Akers for the delightful interview. We wish her great success in her future endeavors.