“I don’t have a typical artist’s background” begins Aisling Walsh designer and founder of jewellery label Taer. Describing a past career in youth work and a past life in Roscommon, Walsh conjures up an image feverishly far from her current surroundings. Her current situation sees her in a nook of Dublin’s creative quarter on Drury Street — in a shared studio space above the intricately exuberant Irish Design Shop. The studio houses Walsh along with the store owners and two other designers, a mix with Walsh feels compliments her work.
“It’s great being surrounded by other makers, with someone to bounce ideas off, the work flows so much easier.” Even as we sit in the empty studio that evening, creativity inundates the room, with tools, apparatus and rogue materials covering every inch of flat surface.
Giving a further insight into how youth work transformed itself into metal work, Walsh says “I began doing a painting course in the evening after work and just fell in love. I was totally immersed in it and decided to create a portfolio. I submitted it to NCAD with no real great intention and then I got accepted into its degree course.”
“I knew that this wasn’t an opportunity that I could pass up, so I packed up my job, sold my car and headed for Dublin. I had really enjoyed my work before, but I didn’t love it. It wasn’t my burning passion.”
Nor was painting her burning passion, a fact she discovered on her arrival at NCAD and on her introduction to metals. “This was love” she states. “I was just amazed at what I could create from the materials and things really went from there.” with Walsh taking a year out after completing two.
“The studio space here became available, so I jumped at the chance. I started making and selling. Then when the year was up, I decided not to go back to the course. I really wanted to finish the degree, but I figured, the studio is here, the opportunity is here, why wait two more years to do the thing I’m already doing now.”
Naturally the transition from a career in youth work to the ascent into metal work, wasn’t totally smooth. “It was hard going from a full-fledged career to supporting myself from my work. I started doing bar work again at the weekends, which was a big drop down to earth, but I really enjoyed it.”
Still, Walsh is happy enough that her bar tending days are over now. In August she took on a public facing role with the Irish Design Shop below her studio and feels that this is a welcome accompaniment to her role as a designer.
“It’s so great to get that time face to face with people, to understand who they are and what they are looking for, it helps direct my focus with my own work.” Not that Taer is everyone’s piece of cake, according to Walsh.
“When I started designing, I was really just make pieces that I liked, that I would wear. Though the collections have evolved since then, they still have kept that distinctive style. Taer is all about merging good quality materials with casual styles.”
Taer is constructed by Walsh’s own hands using an array of sterling silver, muted metals and black leather finishings. The materials give the finish products a beautiful yet sterile vibe while the intricate designs ensure a personable touch.
At present Taer consists of two collections A Little Nonsense and A Maze. Based on a quote from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, “a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men…” A Little Nonsense is a collection of stunning silver rings and earrings, beautifully crafted with a slight mismatched feel to them.
“I created the collection using offcuts and scraps of leftover silver. I cut and file them to make something beautiful. I find that there is magic about making something from nothing and felt that that really aligned with children’s literature and Roald Dahl’s works.”
With silver pendants, rings and earrings, etched with dark inclines the A Maze collection is every bit as magical but takes on a more linear form, even if the original design process was not so.
“A Maze was me trying to create the pattern of a stone wall, but as I was trying to create the pattern, it took on its own form and started to look like a maze, I went from there with it and crafted the collection.”
Far from being trapped in a maze of her own creation, Walsh has carved a clear path for her creativity and one which will be signposted by many others in 2018 also.