Monday, February 4, 2013

American Made Series: Aleishall Girard Maxon

Studio Deseos beautiful pieces are designed by jewelery artist Aleishall Girard Maxon. Her collection is bright and delicately bold, using a variety of colors, tassels and beads.

What are the key ingredients in a Studio Deseo piece?
Im constantly experimenting with different techniques and love to discover new styles. Core elements of a Studio Deseo piece are color, texture and the juxtaposition of dainty and bold. I love to pair things like delicate Japanese seed beads with a giant poufy tassel made from brightly colored yarn. Or have a black and white palette with a pop of hot pink.

One of the most strikingly beautiful elements in your work is your playful yet chic color palate; where would you say the inspiration for this comes from?
My love of color and need to be surrounded by it both in my personal life and in my work is an intrinsic part of who I am. I grew up surrounded by the rich colors of the landscape in New Mexico. Our house was filled with colorful textiles, artwork and folk art. I also inherited a love of collecting and have always gravitated towards objects of color. Arranging things around my house can often inform a collection Im working on in terms of color.

Have you introduced your kids to crafting yet?
I have two little girls, 4 and 1. My older daughter loves to be with me in my studio and will sit next to me while I work on necklaces, totally engaged in her own project. She has started to bead, though with much larger materials as the needles I work with are no larger than a hair. She has access to all sorts of her own supplies so that she can create things when the mood strikes. I love seeing what she comes up with and have been inspired by her color palates on many occasions.

Where does the majority of your work happen?
I am very lucky to have a gorgeous studio that is a stand alone structure on our small lot in Berkeley. It was originally the carriage house but my lovely husband re-modeled it, transforming what was once dark and dilapidated into a light filled haven for creativity.

What are the major techniques you use in crafting your jewelry?
I was never formally trained, so Ive developed techniques that work for me over time. In the past, Ive used more premade pompoms from India, but now I make my own pompoms and tassels, which I love and prefer to do because they turn out stronger and are more easily incorporated into the necklaces. There has been a great deal of trial and error over the years to figure out what works for me in combining the unique elements that I use.

What other jewelry makers or artists in general have had the biggest impact on you?
My Grandfather Alexander Girards work is a huge influence on my whole aesthetic. His understanding and use of color is a daily inspiration. His lifes work was just brilliantly presented in the form of a book by Todd Oldham and Kierra Coffee. Being able to reference so much of his work has sparked a whole new desire to create. My brother Kori Girard is a visual artist whose work also has a huge impact on me. Both being artists, but working in different mediums, we often play off one another with use of color, pattern etc. We are now working together as Girard Studio, which our family formed to help protect and promote the legacy of our grandfather.

As far as other jewelry designers whove had an impact, most of what I find interesting and engaging is ornament made in the folk tradition from places like Laos, North Africa, India, Mexico, Peru, Pakistan and Turkey.

Where can we see more of your wonderful work?
I am busy working on a web store where you will be able to buy my work, though that part of my website is still in development. My work is sold in Japan, Europe, Australia and Korea. Here in the states, you can find Studio Deseo at a number of stores including Erica Tanov (New York + Berkeley) Layla in Brooklyn and Reliquary in San Francisco. A list of the other stockists can be found on my website

Maeve Nicholson is a contributing editor at Martha Stewart Living. Follow her on @maeverz.

(photos: claudine gossett photography)

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