Shanti Eleganti – Chat With Jewellery Designer Stacey Ashleigh
Stacey Ashleigh is a talented jewellery designer, hand crafting recycled materials, cruelty free feathers, crystals and stones to create earrings, cuffs, necklaces and one of a kind head pieces for her label Noodge Designs.
Tell me about yourself?
I was born in South Africa and came to Australia when I was 7. I was involved in drama for a very long time, my love of acting evolved into film making, editing and makeup for the film industry as well as film analysis and film editing and directing. When I was 18 I started to travel. When I traveled I always made sure I was doing something crafty with my hands. I just couldn’t sit still without doing something with my hands.
How did you get into the business?
I was always crafty but while travelling the east coast of Australia I started to find natural treasures from the earth, such as feathers and natural stones. I used these found items to make natural jewellery for a little extra petrol money.
People started to really embrace my type of jewellery. When I got home after 7 months of travelling I decided to take my crafty jewellery making more seriously and set up a market stall in my local area. I’m now selling at markets, festivals and online.
Why feather and semi precious stones and crystals?
I really appreciate that nature has so many natural beauties, that I feel we take for granted. They are gifts from the earth. I get to showcase these beautiful gifts so that others can enjoy them.
Do you get inspiration from the places you have traveled?
I have traveled to many counties around the world, but while travelling for a few months around Australia, I had several memorable experiences that inspired me with my passion for natural beauty from the earth.
While hitchhiking at Rainbow beach near Tin Can Bay a very simple but kind hearted man picked us up in a truck. Not only did he drive us back to our van but invited us to come to his family home for dinner. The family of husband and wife and 4 girls actually landed up taking us in, cooking for us, feeding us, putting a roof over our head and trying to help us find some work in the town. Even going so far as to do our laundry. This simple family lived a quiet peaceful life on the beach and had a relative in the mining industry. They introduced me to semi-precious stones. He had large deep glass cases filled to the brim with semi-precious stones.
He told his four children to go to the glass cases and pick out 5 stones with meaning to pass on to me. They also gave me bags of beautiful shells they had collected over the years from the beach on their doorstep. This meant so much to me. This made me understand that each one of nature’s treasures has meaning and energy. Each time it passed through someone’s hands it collects more energy and experience which gets passed on to the next person. I am just the facilitator that makes it into jewellery that can be worn and enjoyed by others.
I was born in Africa and I always feel a passion for exploring other cultures, and am very interested in how people live in a sustainable way from the environment.
I draw a lot of inspiration from every country I have been to. Every place has its own unique and special flavour. I draw a little bit of inspiration from every place I have been, the environment I have seen and the experiences I have had.
I collect a little bit of knowledge, experience and take a gift from the environment.
As an example on my last trip to Africa I volunteered with a foundation that rescued orphaned vervet monkeys. I collected beautiful quartz that I walked over ever day. For most people that would have been a bit of rock. By for me it was a reminder of my experience with the monkeys.
I also randomly came across wild ostriches and picked up fallen feathers. I have used these feathers to make some exceptional jewellery. These found items are not just feathers and rock. They all have a story and special energy that surrounds them. The energy from finding these feathers and stone will live on, together with the story that surrounds them with the next person who owns them.
What is your fashion style?
As a young girl I was always designing and making my own clothes and I didn’t necessarily fit into the mould. While all my friends were getting iPods and jewellery for their birthdays, I was getting sewing machines and art equipment.
I was knitting and sewing when it wasn’t fashionable while all my friends were wondering what I was up to. I once got a dressmakers dummy for my birthday that didn’t fit my body as I am quite petite. I used plaster bandages and chicken wire to mould my own body so that I could use it as a dressmaker’s tool.
I’m girly girl who is a real hippy at heart, but I do love dressing up in high heels and high fashion. At the same time I wouldn’t think anything of kicking off my shoes to run barefoot in the bush and camping under the stars for weeks on end.
What is it like selling at different venues?
The best thing about it is the range of people that I meet. The clientele that are interested in my jewellery appreciate that I make it myself by hand and that it is not mass produced in a third world country by children who barely get paid. My materials are all natural and recycled products. When I get good feedback from people and they come back for more or even just to tell me they have enjoyed something I have worked on, it makes all my hard work worthwhile.
Who inspires you and why?
Firstly my mum, who is extremely creative and has passed it on to my through her passion for design and love of all thing arty and crafty.
It’s more the women on my journeys who inspire me –
During my time at the Monkey Foundation I saw the Cook making the most detailed and beautiful African jewellery, I had to sit down with her to learn the tribal techniques that have been passed down from generations to generation.
This simple salt of the earth type women are my inspiration. In their own quiet way they are superheros of our time. They make beautiful art for no other reason that it is their passion.
They may not have done anything remarkable in the world’s eyes, but to me they are an inspiration.
What is your next great adventure?
I am going back to India to work on some new techniques , but every single year I say I’m going to Mexico and Central South America I’m hoping that this is the year that it is really going to happen.
New Phone and Cover to help me become more attentive to my growing business needs.
Sass Tribal Playsuit from AlibiOnline
A bigger workshop so I can continue to expand my range.