Q/A with Ashley Brown, a.k.a. Hammerthreads
How did you start down the path of creativity?
I can’t say as though my journey has a clear starting point. My earliest memories are of grass between my toes and drawing on every surface I could find. I am deeply rooted in the natural environment, drawing not only from it’s colors and shapes but it’s lessons in perseverance and evolution of design. My mother always said she couldn’t draw a straight line because she made sure to put every drop of her artistic talent into me. To say I was born an artist wouldn’t be entirely cliché.
What does your studio space mean to you?
My current leather studio is located within the former parlor of my early 19th century beaux arts home on the banks of the Meduxnekeag river. It is a space full of history and inspiration, carefully curated treasures lines every available surface so your eyes are never without some curiosity to discover.
A full wall of windows on the east side is filled with more plants than you can imagine. It is such a welcoming space in the morning when the sun starts peeking through the foliage and floods my work tables.
Within my home you can also find no less than 5 currently in use studio spaces. Revolving mediums include all form of textiles, metal, wood, natural dying, screen printing, photography and a roaming apothecary wherever I can find space. Even the gardens outside are used to grow plants for dying and herbs for natural crafting. I really am blessed to have such a wonderful multi-use space to explore all of my creative impulses, the artfully haunted house of my dreams.
What materials do you use?
My main focus is in leather of all kinds but I think natural materials best describes my overall work. I strive to reuse and recycle as much as I possibly can, I’ve certainly skinned an old couch or two in my day. Found natural materials comprise much of my designs as well, everything from wood and acorns to shed antlers and discarded bones.
In the last few years I have really been exploring the world of illustration as well, creating endless screen prints, publishing annual lunar calendars and currently working on an oracle deck. Each day a new element or art form is perfected or discovered so the list will be forever growing I’m sure, I don’t like to limit my options when it comes to art.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced as a maker?
The biggest challenge thus far has been finding my way in a predominately male centered trade. My work was either viewed as lesser quality for having been female made or not even believed to be of my making. You would be surprised how many times I get asked about my boyfriend or husbands work while standing in MY booth at art shows.
Finding the right people has been a struggle as well, my town is small and the opportunities are rather limited. I don’t use social media as much as I probably should but have found a great platform on Instagram and am enjoying being a part of a growing community of artists and creators of all kinds. The exchange of information, motivation and support with other creatives has strongly helped propel my work to new heights.
What are your biggest joys when it comes to your work?
Waking up every morning with a deep thirst to get my hands on whatever awaits me. It is an indescribable feeling to be living your dream.
My processes are deeply connected to the natural rhythms, the winter work days are short and focused but as the spring arrives you can find me dancing around the studio late into the evenings bursting with new ideas. I never could see myself tied to a desk with a strict daily regimen. I thrive on the flow of life and find my greatest inspiration within that journey. Art is who I am, and there is no bigger joy than being your truest self.
Follow Ashley on Instagram to see what she’s up to!