Next up in our series of Art Star Craft Bazaar Vendor Profiles is Ashley Landon of The Knotty Owl. Hailing from Rochester NY, Ashley creates hand-cut jewelry (no laser cutting here!) made from local, reclaimed lumber. Find her at the ASCB at Booth #93.
Art Star: Did you go to art school? If so, where did you study?
Ashley Landon: Technically yes, I graduated from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute for Industrial Design in 2011. I worked for the Fine Arts Department in the wood shop however, so I like to think I got the best of both worlds since most of my time was spent surrounded by fine artists.
AS: What types of items will you be selling at the bazaar?
AL: I will be selling my hand-carved and painted wooden jewelry and adornments.
AS: What materials do you work with?
AL: I use found, salvaged, locally harvested, and otherwise locally purchased lumber. My favorite woods to work with are cherry, walnut, maple, redwood, and the fallen branches from a silver maple tree in my backyard. I assemble my pieces with sterling silver and brass chain.
AS: How are your items made? Describe your process.
AL: All of my pieces are made from start to finish in my small wood shop and studio, conveniently located in my basement. Every wooden component starts as part of a rough piece of lumber, which I re-saw myself. I absolutely love the “analog” methods of creating my jewelry, and prefer to have hands-on control of every aspect of my process rather than using laser cutters. Once the wood is milled flat, I draw my rough shapes, and cut them out very carefully on a bandsaw. I use a belt sander and hand files to shape each piece, and finish the rest of the sanding by hand. I paint all of the designs on my pieces, apply the wood finish, and assemble the pieces into their final jewelry designs once they’re dry.
AS: Are you able to make your work full-time? If not, what do you do for your day job?
AL: I’m lucky enough to call The Knotty Owl my full-time gig, doing the occasional wood-based commission job or furniture repair project on the side. I’m also part of a business partnership, Dichotomy Rochester, and we are preparing to open our first retail store this summer in Rochester, New York.
AS: Who are some of your favorite artists?
AL: My favorite artists/designers are the husband and wife duo Charles and Ray Eames. Their design principles have significantly informed my creative style, and they’re both incredibly inspiring on a personal level. I’m also and avid fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, and the fact that he so fully considered his designs from the architecture of each house, to the tableware that would adorn it’s interior. Other favorites are Hans Wegner and George Nakashima.
AS: What are you reading/listening to right now?
AL: I’m about halfway through Vonnegut’s Cat Cradle (for the second time), and have been switching back and forth between listening to The XX and every Modest Mouse album made before 2001.
AS: Where would you like to see yourself and your art/craft business in the next 10 years?
AL: I plan to eventually expand my wood shop into a space that could properly house a larger collection of tools, and possibly an assistant, to help me keep up with orders while I continually work on new designs. Being in sole control of every aspect of my little business (as many of us sole proprietors are) is so overwhelming at times, leaving very little mental stamina to keep producing new work, and I’d love so much to change that within the next year or two. My main goal is to help my father retire within the next year, as he is my part-time expert sander on the weekends, and we really enjoy working together. The process of starting this business has been such an incredible learning experience and blessing, and I’m content to continue planting the seeds of my business and helping it grow naturally. I’d also like to get back into furniture design and larger scale woodworking projects in the near future.
AS: Are there any bazaar participants that you are excited to check out this year?
AL: I’m extremely excited to finally see Horrible Adorables in person (I’ve loved their work on Etsy forever), and Twig Terrariums (I’m an obsessive collector of terrariums), but realistically I’ve been to every vendor’s website over the past week and am thrilled to be in the presence of all of them next month!