hamilton jewelry

Flora & Fauna: Featuring Amber Aasman

 
Amber Aasman
 

I began creating jewelry from wood and epoxy resin in 2014. But my exploration and education in the arts prior to this had much to do with this new venture. In my emergent painting practice, I was exploring fluid paint media and epoxy resins, bridging the worlds of painting and sculpture. In my developing craft practice, woodworking, sculpture, found object art, and environmental arts all merge to inform the pieces that I make.

PROCESS

My work always begins with materials: unusual wood, bark, lichens, moss, and other natural fragments. After finding these little treasures on hikes and travels, they need to be dried for a period of weeks, months, or up to a year. When ready, I carefully arrange them in large molds, which I then fill with epoxy resin. This often takes several pours, allowing the resin to dry and seal the natural elements more slowly (for better clarity, multiple colours and layers). After several days I remove the block of resin and wood from the mold. Using woodworking equipment and tools, I cut out each pendant, earring and ring, making decisions as I go about where and how to cut, to get the most interesting effects. Then each piece is sanded up to 3000 grit, oiled, finished, and assembled into its final form.

Sandy Shoreline Amber Aasman
Dutch Moss Amber Aasman

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN

I create and market my jewelry under the name “Wild Blue Yonder,” a common phrase which deeply informs my work. The philosophy of “Wild Blue Yonder” represents an embrace of Canadian wilderness, natural beauty and endless possibilities. Each of my pieces are unique experiments, with undetermined outcomes and intrinsic wildness; microcosms of flowing water, moody skies and windswept landscapes. They celebrate endless possibilities, high horizons, and looking beyond what you can see.

WHY DO I DO IT

I have always been a bit of a scavenger. On trips or hikes, even as a kid I have always been compelled to find something interesting or different to take home with me as a keepsake. There is something very special about an object you find while travelling. It signifies a sense of adventure, specific memories, relationships, and a finite period of time. This sentimentality is what leads me to forage for unique bark, wood, and other natural items. While not always found on epic travels, even a locally-found object or reclaimed wood from local woodworkers is transformed and celebrated in my work. Paired with epoxy resin, which acts as a perfect preservative, these small fragments defy their own fragility, take new form, and can last a lifetime.

 
Amber Aasman Studio
 

Amber Aasman from Wild Blue Yonder

 
 

" (Amber) began crafting jewelry from wood back in 2014 - simply because I wanted a wood pendant and couldn't find anything I liked. So I began experimenting with found wood, lichens, and epoxy resin. As I wore my handmade pieces, friends and family began asking for similar ones, so I happily obliged. Pushing my craft and expanding my networks has allowed my to begin my own company, Wild Blue Yonder, in the spring of 2016. Based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, my jewelry is available in several stores, and is displayed regularly at events throughout the region. 

WBY jewelry is created using reclaimed materials, unused lumber scraps, or fragments of wood, bark, and lichen found on hikes and travels through the forest. Little details, often unnoticed in nature, are readily on display in my pieces. My jewelry is designed to inspire its wearer with a love for nature, and all the intricacies that lie therein."

INTERVIEW:

How did you get into your art/craft?

I had been looking for wood jewelry for myself – and couldn’t find anything I liked. So I started making a few pieces, which friends noticed and began requesting them. Over a couple of years, my practice and craft was refined, and early in 2016 I decided to take the plunge, and start the business full time.

What do you like to listen to while you’re working?

I alternate between comedy podcasts (This is That, Because News, No Such Thing as a Fish) and French- learning podcasts. Once in while I’ll add some music in the mix too: Indie folk/rock, or old school jazz and blues.

Outside of your medium, what other types of art/design/etc are you inspired by?

I love pottery in all its forms – so earthy and interesting. In a second life I would try to be a potter.

If you couldn’t be an artist/craftsperson, what would you love to be?

Hm. This is genuinely the first time I have thought of this possibility. Can I pick music teacher? Because that’s my second job and I love it.

Where is your studio located? What’s your favourite thing about your city?

I do most of my work from my home studio, in Hamilton near Gage Park. It’s the attic floor of an old century home, with a big skylight, creaky wood floors, and I absolutely love it. I also sublet woodshop space off friends who run a carpentry business (Circle A Carpentry) where I do most of the rough cutting and sanding.

My favourite thing about Hamilton is…

The small-town feel, with big-city amenities. Particularly in the arts scene, it really seems like everyone knows one another, while also being really receptive to new faces. It’s a unique blend actually – and I have really been lucky to find a place in that community, despite being at the beginning of my creative career.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

I would move to Whitehorse in a heartbeat – we visited there this summer and it was so beautiful.

What do you love most about Canada?

Our abundance of untouched wilderness – you would need a lifetime of lifetimes to get to it all.

What's you favourite thing to do with your “down time”?

Baking or cooking things for the first time, camping, canoeing.

If you could go to dinner with ANYBODY, alive or dead, who would it be?

I would want to have dinner with Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday – two amazing women making art in a time when both their gender and ethnicity were immense barriers – and yet that didn’t stop either of them from creating beautiful music their whole lives long. Inspiring for women and minorities today to keep working & creating unapologetically and boldly.

What brand/artist can you not get enough of?

I love the brand of resin that I use! Art Resin is a company in Burlington, ON (the proximity is total coincidence, they ship worldwide) and it is a no-VOCs, crystal clear and super durable resin. I swear by the stuff – and the company is full of awesome people!

What’s one thing you hope makes it big?

Call me biased, but I’d really love to see wood jewelry take a mainstage in the fashion world. I am obsessed with the possibilities, despite it being an unusual material for jewelry. Wood is warm, durable, and can be easily recycled/reclaimed. I’m not much of a gemstones fan so it makes it’s easier for me to happily forsake the diamonds for the lovely opalescence of certain types of exotic hardwood.

Do you have a favourite book?

I finally read “The Orenda” which was very compelling. Tough to read, but deeply informative and moving.

What’s one goal you’re working towards right now?

 

Get through this Christmas season with a healthy balance of busy-ness/success with relaxation and the peacefulness that this season is *supposed to* bring. We’ll see if I can nail it this year.

What’s your favourite thing to do over the holidays?

My favourite thing to do is spend a few days up at my family cottage near North Bay – it’s so peaceful there, and very special to me, since my grandparents built it in the 70s and my family has spent a lot of time there since. It can get so cold up there (a couple times it’s hit -30 or lower) but with the wood stove going, it’s the most delightful place to be.