I remember seeing my first ever run of Alone In The Wilderness, the classic PBS marathon two part series. I was in the middle of design school and up late, smoking and drafting while I listened to PBS (Nightly Business Report from 10-11pm, Chalie Rose from 11-11h30 and then repeats all night).
I felt so sure of my path. My original motivation was the desire to (in laymen’s terms) make stuff and sell it. Furniture, art, lamps… whatever. I felt strongly about my abilities (since, that confidence has waned as my handy skills have a childlike quality that is not appreciated by many), but most of all about my skill of sniffing out things that people want. My first sale was a lamp, whose shade I had adorned with blue sparkles and white feathers.
James on Sherbrooke Street. Maria (one of the co-owners and ex-colleagues from a past retail adventure) thought my new path was cute and forked over $35 for a lamp she most surely put in the garbage two years later. Nonetheless, the sale motivated me.
Over the years, the items have changed. From felt food, to lampshades, to old windows, not forgetting junk found on the curb (I’ll just put a coat of red paint on that!!) … my industrious nature has never once waned, despite the actual lack of items sold, or made for sale.
The world of service is a murky one, value and purpose are mixed into a troublesome cocktail with self-worth and identity. While products have outlined purposes, set prices and today, are exchanged in a clear manner: cash for object. The End. There is also a wonderful spark of joy when an object is sold and packaged up, destined to its new home. Being the maker behind that product, specially in a system that supports direct artisan to customer transactions must be very gratifying.
I’m sure that Ariele Alasko would agree.
Her sculpture background is of no surprise. This Pratt Institute graduate operates a One Woman Studio is Brooklyn and if I could use one word to describe her work, it would be
With the use of a) a stunning product b) great photography and c) wonderful community of followers, Alasko has coined the market of sculptural wooden homewares over the last 7 years.
The shape of her pieces evoke a certain humanity that makes them so wonderfully curious. She has more recently been carving out wooden links that have these amazing sinuous lines, and it’s really no surprise that her shop is always sold out. She works on inlays and custom installations for residential and commercial spaces.
Follow her along on Instagram (her primary marketing tool- she has about 400k followers… whaaaaaaat???) and revel in the beauty of the walnut and sycamore panels. And while yes, Brooklyn is a special place, where the arts have a supportive community (read, rich people buy things) but the art of carving and whittling has, in the past 10 years, been a rising trend everywhere from England, Japan to the West Coast. Small gift shops and the pages of lifestyle magazines (think Kinfolk or Hygge) gravitate towards these pieces a reflection that readers and buyers are yearning to connect to more traditional crafts and materials.
I remember watching Dick Proenneke on PBS carve out the handles for his axes and the bodies of his spoons, amazed. The 11×14 foot cabin furnished with things he made, alone in Alaska. While I used the Ikea cutlery forged in a Taiwanese factory, and sat on a broken Ikea chair, Alone in the Wilderness played in the background, and Dick stirred his elderberry syrup with his rough pine spoon.
All Photos by Ariel Alasko