Firefly Handmade Fall Market 2017 Artisan Profile - Alison Blair Studio
Self-taught jewelry designer and entrepreneur Alison Stern, of Alison Blair Studio, speaks to our heart. Her mellow, yet steady dedication to her craft has taken her down many roads, her latest a complete renovation of her design ideology and aesthetic. A designer and business owner for over sixteen years, Alison was looking for a new creative approach to her work. Ms. Stern risked it all to start again in pursuit of artistic greatness. Although satisfied with her existing beaded jewelry model, she decided to go back to school to learn the art of metalsmithing.
About a year ago she put her hand to torch and the rest is history. She gets lost for hours each day in her Boulder, Colorado studio crafting the gorgeous handmade baubles we see today. Alison Blair Studio returns to Firefly Handmade Market at Fall Fest. We have no doubt we’ll be delighted with all her new handcrafted wares, but in the meantime we wanted more. Alison is a ball of positive energy and we wanted to learn all about what motivates this ingenue to blaze forward and create stunning, wearable art.
Your last name is Stern. Why did you choose the name Alison Blair Studios?
Blair is my middle name. The artistic gene runs in the family. Both my brother and father are artists and used their middle names when they first starting selling their goods. I wanted to continue that legacy.
What prompted you to pick up from a successful editing career in Manhattan and move out west?
Good question! My husband and I came to Boulder for a summer vacation in 1997. Within two weeks we had bought a house and began our move West.
You mention that your business started because of a bet you made with your mother to create a necklace you saw in a fine jewelry store. Before this were you creating art in any medium? Had you interacted with jewelry making before or was this your very first experience?
I had taken one jewelry making class in college because I needed an elective to graduate. It was fun, but really didn't leave much of an impression on me. Other than that, I had no formal education or any relationship with jewelry making. A career in this field came literally out of the blue.
What inspires your designs?
My dad is an artist. He does restoration work, focusing on antique metals and porcelain. He was completely self-taught and spent hour upon hour, taking on challenges and teaching himself techniques. Although I always appreciated what he did, I never really got it. I guess I thought he was a little nuts because he spent so much time perfecting his trade. Once I got into metalsmithing, I began to understand the depth of his knowledge. I can't believe it took me so long to get it! So he inspires me in that way.
My mom is my main aesthetic inspiration. She has had an appreciation for beautiful, delicate understated jewelry since I can remember. Many of my designs remind me of the pieces she has collected over the years. She loves things that are slightly imperfect, and I love that too. So my pieces tend to be a little raw, a little askew. That gives me freedom to create with my hands and incorporate imperfection into my designs. I think imperfections turn designs into treasures.
How do you want your audience to feel when they interact with your art?
I love that my customers feel excited about the pieces I make for them. I love customizing jewelry in whatever way they want it, as long as I feel it's good composition. The highest compliment I can receive is when they tell me to design something for them--that they trust me to make the design decisions.
What techniques do you employ?
All of my work is hand-crafted by me. I am currently doing a lot of saw-cut designs using a jeweler's saw and bench pin. It's tedious and a little demanding but I love it.
Why are you proud to be an artisan at Firefly Handmade Markets?
Firefly Markets are my favorite. They are so well managed, organized and civilized, and they do widespread advertising. Having done shows for 16 years, I have seen a lot of set-ups. Firefly cares about their artists and their customers. The customer base is awesome. They come to the shows looking for finds and understand the work that goes into handmade. It's great to be appreciated by the management and the customers.
Alison Blair joins Firefly Handmade at Downtown Boulder Fall Fest 2017 on September 16 and 17. Be sure to stop by to see all her stunning work in person!
You can also find Alison's work here: