My need to re-use, re-develop and re-create can be seen in my use of ordinary materials in my creations. The jewellery baskets, ornaments and artwork are definitely a by-product of the 21st century & I have been described as a ‘techno -cannibal’ by BBC journalist Clare English. My career has spanned 3 decades and three different countries since leaving Edinburgh College of Art in 1990. The motivation behind my work comes from being the child of post war parents, Scottish thriftiness and an avid watcher of Blue Peter!
Although my training was initially in jewellery and silver-smithing, I have crossed over successfully into textiles, fashion and sculpture. I have won several awards including Scottish Fashion Designer of the Year, Recycling Fashion Designer of the Year and various awards for Fibre in North America and Australasia. Recently I finished a commission for 9 free standing giant flowers for Wirral Environmental Network..
A staple ingredient is wire that reclaimed from old televisions, the older, the better. I’ve found over a hundred different colours and hues of copper and aluminium wire. It takes me about an hour to gut a television salvaging all that I can use and about 3 days to re-create it into a hat. The first hat took me months to do and in the National Museums of Scotland Collection (they also have my first pair of shoes and a hatpin). Lately though, due to the rate of development in technology, I’ve found it harder to find the old TV sets and now resort to buying various colours of wire to compliment the recycled wire. There is always a high component of re-used materials in my work – whether it is re-using charity shop finds or sweetie wrappers to get the right colour. My wire jewellery and baskets are always made individually and the shape and colour are dictated by the materials.
My pieces are in museum collections & private collections around the world. From small earrings to large sculptures, I am more than happy to work to different scales and budgets. I have a range which retails at £10 – stainless steel mesh earrings and hair-clasps which are great stocking fillers. This range is the closest I get to making a repeat of the same piece…even these have different folds, slightly different colours and wrappings. Generally my jewellery retails around the £20-£30 price range.
My packaging is designed by myself and whether it is a branded card or information mini card, it always outlines a little more about my craftwork and breaks down the “ingredients’ in each piece. I always try to use recycled or sustainable sourced packaging and repurpose outer packaging for posting. I do not use virgin plastic in any of my work (apart from the butterflies for earrings).
Alison Bailey Smith
BA Hons Jewellery, Dip Des www.abscraft.com