Designer Spotight: Alison Young
A brief story of what you do and why you do it:
I would probably describe my work as contemporary silver jewellery, although it often incorporates copper, gemstones and natural materials such as petrified wood, sea bamboo and black coral. My most recent collection uses ceramic beads in earthy colours made from local clay.I enjoy finding materials that I like because of their colour, texture or shape and then designing my work around them. Some of my necklaces are bold, statement pieces but I also am drawn to making more delicate, simple pieces with a bit of a twist. My work has been described as unique and stylish but most importantly, wearable.
How did you get into jewelry design?
I have always enjoyed experimenting with design – making and organizing objects into aesthetically pleasing arrangements. I learnt to knit as a small child and continued to enjoy colour and texture in knitting. I didn't regret choosing to study English at University and I found a great deal of fulfillment in teaching literature in further education for 27 years. Whilst some aspects of my creativity were satisfied through teaching, collecting ceramics and textiles and knitting, it was my discovery of silversmithing that truly allowed me to explore designing in three dimensions. I enjoy working with a variety of materials to create unique pieces.
What makes your collection unique?
My images show pieces made with very rare vintage black coral and demonstrates my enjoyment of problem solving. I enjoy finding materials that I like because of their colour, texture or shape and then designing my work around them. In my black coral collection it was the shape and texture of the material that inspired the design; the silver leaves complement the twig-like quality of the coral which I have only lightly polished in order to retain the resemblance to bark of the coral in its natural state. The handmade silver chain and ring and toggle fastening echo the lack of uniformity and organic nature of the piece.
What are your inspirations?
I suppose I am generally inspired by the natural world around me; I like the roughness and irregularity of natural objects, of stones, and sticks and bark, so that I prefer to use chips of gemstones rather than beads. Colour is also very important to me and I love the greens in nature contrasted with autumn colours. I also find that much of my work is asymmetrical and I often use fastenings at the front of my work, making them an integral part of the overall design.
How are you making a difference in your life?
After a fulfilling career in teaching, my jewellery designing has allowed me to develop further aspects of my creativity and to pursue a second career. I have become involved in an artistic and creative community which is both supportive and importantly great fun!
What's something unusual about you that makes you “you”?
I don't think I am particularly unusual, but I suppose my experience proves that it is never too late to learn something new and follow your dreams!
What's the biggest struggle in running your jewelry business like a business? OR What is your biggest success in running your business like a business?
One of the hardest aspects of submitting work for public scrutiny or for submission to exhibitions or galleries is to accept criticism or rejection without taking it personally or giving up. However one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work is being given positive feedback and knowing that it gives genuine pleasure to people.
I was hugely inspired when, after taking redundancy in 2009 from 27 years in teaching, I enrolled on an adult education silversmithing course. My tutor encouraged me to develop my first collection which featured copper leaves and autumn colours. Since then I have learned further techniques and developed my work into a number of collections. My work has been for sale at art and craft shows and in galleries throughout the UK.