Ashli Brooke Taylor joined the Rio Grande family just over two years ago, but this jewelry-making maverick has already become an essential member of our Tech Team, not to mention writing for Rio’s Blog, dreaming up jewelry projects for our website, and answering all your burning technical questions.
With a BFA from Maine College of Art, an MFA in jewelry from the University of Portland and an undying love for all tools, she brings a unique artistic perspective and in-depth hands-on knowledge of all of our products. She sat down with us to share a little about her work and how she ended up here at Rio Grande.
Heather Apodaca: Tell us a little about how you got your start in the jewelry industry.
Ashli Brooke Taylor: I always wanted to be an artist; I first aspired to be a shoe designer which transformed into accessory and jewelry design. I attended Maine College of Art, where I met Tina Rath and Sharon Portelance, who encouraged my design skills and helped me develop my technical bench skills.
After MECA, I attended Penland School of Arts and Crafts and I decided to attend the University of Oregon to complete my Masters in Jewelry. During this time I taught jewelry at the university level and dove further into the fine art aspect of jewelry making.
HA: And how did you find your way to Rio?
ABT: After my master’s I was obsessed with red rocks and blue skies, plus living in the rain in Oregon for three years really made me want to head to the desert and I ended up in Arizona. I worked from my home making jewelry and giving private lessons but I wanted to make tools. Since I have had so much experience teaching and working at workshops I looked toward Rio for a position on the Tech Team.
HA: What is your favorite part of making jewelry?
ABT: I love to design jewelry, but the best part of making it is a toss up between piercing, soldering, and forming metal. I appreciate the more tedious and repetitive aspects of the craft.
HA: What do you most enjoy about your job on the Tech Team?
ABT: Hmmmm, that’s a tough one. I enjoy almost everything about my job. The most would be testing new tools and processes.
HA: Is there a new tool/finding/process you are currently excited about? Tell us a little about it.
ABT: Well I have been working with this process called E-Coating for a little while now. It is not like anything I would typically be interested in, but the plating process and the e-coating process have engaged me in a way that has surprised me. I’m fascinated by the science and chemistry behind these processes. At first it seemed like magic and sometimes it still does.
HA: Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve made? Tell us about it.
ABT: My jewelry history is not like most jewelers; it has ranged from dabbling in photography, pottery, printmaking, sculpture, process art, installation, and fashion. I honestly do not have a favorite piece I have made. I am really modest when it comes to my work and tend not to favor any one piece. That may be the years of art school coming out. I am extremely critical when looking at my own work.
HA: Do you have a secret talent? Is there something no one on your team knows about you?
ABT: A secret talent? No. I think my team knows just about everything since I love chatting with them. Maybe my past baton twirling skills?
HA: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
ABT: Super-human endurance or time travel, it’s a toss up.
HA: Favorite quote?
ABT: “Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody is watching.”
If you’d like to hear more from Ashli, be sure to check out her latest Kliar E-Coating post here on Rio Grande’s Blog, or search Kliar E-Coating on our blog to see others! Also, don’t hesitate to leave your questions or comments for Ashli below! She would love to hear from you.