Monday 8 August 2011

Studio Visits - Aisling Nelson from Rangoli

How did you come to design jewellery and hair accessories?

I began my career studying graphic design, specialising in illustration. A six month trip to India and Nepal in 1994 inspired a career change. I was completely fascinated by the ornamentation and use of colour in even the most everyday objects. I've always loved pattern and colour so India blew all of my senses.

When I got back to Ireland, I enrolled in college for a two year craft design and business studies course. I specialised in jewellery and my graduation collection featured silver box frame pendants and brooches, with  Perspex, Japanese silks and beading.

Photo by White Tea

Photo by Stephanie Fay

While at college, I also did some work experience with a textile artist where I learned the techniques of crochet and weaving. I began combining these traditional techniques with modern jewellery skills to produce a range of fine textile jewellery. On leaving college, I set up my business Rangoli in 1998.

 Headpiece made from fine crochet, incorporating citrine and pearl beading

What materials do you work with?

I work with two different methods of construction. My crochet designs are made by combining up to five strands of metallic threads and incredibly fine enamelled wires. This mix allows for subtle colour variations. For example rose gold can be created by adding a magenta coloured wire to the selection of gold and silver threads. My other collections are made from intricate beaded wire-work where I can replicate some of the delicacy and pattern formations of crochet but with a stronger structure. I incorporate a wide range of semi-precious stones, pearls and crystals into the designs.

Photo, (right) by Nicola Webster

Who do you design for and what process is involved in designing bespoke pieces?

I specialise in designing bridal jewellery and hair accessories. All of my designs are made to order so I get to meet my clients in person. This is one of my favourite aspects of my job, discussing ideas, styles and occasions!

 Photographs by Bernard Carolan at Mark Griffin Photo

The first meeting usually involves an informal chat - I get to find out about the person's style as well as the dress they have chosen. I look at many elements such as the lines and structure of the dress, the embellishment or surface decoration as well as the overall style. Hairstyles also come into the equation! Some clients come in with a clear idea of what they want while others want me to design a special piece for them. I offer advice on styling the bride's look. Listening is an important skill in what I do.

Photo by Brendan Lyon

Where is your work available?

I make bespoke pieces to order and do not supply any other retail outlets. Having previously supplied a number of outlets around the country, I found that I missed out on the connection and valuable feedback that I get from my own customers. Not everyone is able to visit my showroom, so pieces can also be ordered online and designs discussed by phone and email.

Have you worked on any unusual commissions recently?

The headpiece below was for someone who had a very definite idea on the shape, materials and overall feel of the piece that she wanted. The dress was lace, with a vintage feel. The client also sent me a picture of a comb whose shape she really liked. For this design, I printed the image of this comb and cut it out so we could place the shape on her head. This probably sounds odd but it gave us both an excellent idea of the scale and outline shape of the proposed design! Below left, you can see how I have pinned on some small beaded shapes on top of the paper.

Once we were both happy with the scale and shape of the piece, I began working on detailed sketches of the intricate lace form. I then created many individual beaded elements which were finely woven together as the piece was being constructed. This design took many hours to make and was a fascinating new direction for me in terms of assembling a piece from a number of smaller forms.

What inspires you to design?

Pattern and colour are key things. I love delicacy and transparency and yet I am equally drawn to structure and linear forms. Fashion is a constant inspiration too from eighteenth Century to modern innovative couture. Travel to weird and wonderful places is another passion. This year we're off to Uzbekistan for an adventure along the old silk route!
What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy the interaction with clients and involving them in the design process. I love working for myself with the balance between client interaction and my design and making time. Most of my work comes from word of mouth referrals which is also very satisfying. And I am proud that I am now in my fourteenth year of business!

Can you tell us about the necklace you designed for the Wunderkammer exhibition?

The Wonderkammer Exhibition was a group show from designers in The Design Tower, inspired by the Albert Bender collection at the National Museum of Ireland.

Inspiration came in two forms! I loved the colour palette found in the Thangka paintings as well as the stylised swirly clouds. In these Buddhist paintings, the blue sky depicts the Buddha mind while the clouds convey the random, transitory thoughts that pass through the mind during meditation.

I enjoyed experimenting with a new material - fine coloured enamelled crochet ribbons. I discovered that I could distort these ribbons into undulating cloud shapes by crocheting along the upper edge of each strand. It is still the only piece that I have ever made that doesn't incorporate a single bead!

Thanks for chatting with us Aisling! You can read more 'Studio Visits' interviews from the series.

For more information on Rangoli, visit the website or the Rangoli Jewellery blog which showcases some of Aisling's recent bespoke commissions.

Thursday 4 August 2011

RDS Student Art Awards 2011

Congratulations to Linda Uhlemann on winning the Print Award at the recent RDS Student Art Awards 2011. Linda successfully completed a four year BA [Hons} In Visual Art Practice in The Institute of Art Design and Technology Dun Laoghaire. Linda majored in print-making.

Her graduation project was called "The House". The etchings are inspired by a house that Linda used to visit on holidays when she was a child.
"My final project was called “The House” and it concerned a house I used to visit when I was a child. I returned to it through a series of coincidences only to find it derelict, I traced the owners and unravelled the story of why this had happened. My work then became involved with memory and how it slips away and cannot be defined and contained."
'The House', consisting of four large etchings and and artists book

Etching and chincolle - Title empty corridors

Etching and chincolle - Title Mirror

Etching and chincolle - Title Bedroom

Etching and chincolle - Title Stairwell

The RDS Student Art Awards has an annual prize fund in excess of €16,000. Encompassing the RDS Taylor Art Award which has been awarded since 1860, the Awards are the most prestigious art awards open to registered art students of all award-bearing courses in Ireland.

The Awards continue the long tradition of the Society’s developmental role in supporting and nurturing the creative arts in Ireland. Until 1877, Ireland's first 'Drawing School' was managed by the Society after which it was transferred to the Government to become the Metropolitan School of Art and Design and later the National College of Art and Design.

The RDS Student Art Awards are significant in the recognition of excellence and best practice in the work of students registered in full and part-time award bearing art courses. They also provide a platform for exhibiting works that students might not have the opportunity to do otherwise. Previous winners of the RDS Student Art Awards include Walter Osborne, William Orpen, Mainie Jellett, Melanie Le Brocquy, Arthur Gibney, Dorothy Cross, Eamon O’Kane and James Hanley.

An exhibition of winners and a selection of works of excellence chosen by the judges is shown at the RDS National Crafts Competition & Student Art Awards Exhibition during the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show in the RDS Concert Hall.