While most designers rely to a certain extent on experimentation as a part of the creative process, not many of them commit to it like Erin Considine. After starting out as an undergrad studying prison policy and sustainable architecture, Considine eventually found herself drawn to intricate metalsmithing and small scale
sculpture, later moving to New York to work on projects for other designers. This, in turn, led her to think about “metals in a wearable capacity,” work with fabric and sustainable dyes, study of Kumihimo, a Japanese braiding technique, and a jewelry line she quietly started selling at a friend’s vintage shop. From there her work caught on. Fast.
“When I decided to strike out on my own, I didn’t have a plan; I just felt this inescapable urge to manifest this vision I had—there was and continues to be so much potential with the mediums,and I constantly want to expand my skill set,” she says. “I just liked making things that I wanted to wear, and producing dye in my kitchen,” which, situated in Greenpoint, isn’t exactly a far commute from her cozy Williamsburg studio. But the creative freedom also comes with the self-imposed restriction that her pieces be sustainable, both through use of recycled materials and her homemade natural dyes (which allow for most color combinations but not, say, any shade of neon). “I’ve used vintage components in the past, both for inspiration and sometimes even for production, if I come across findings in a generous supply,” she says. “Working around these odds and ends has definitely inspired certain designs, even if the pieces physically don’t make it into the jewelry,” she adds, noting that “there are a few styles I can’t make anymore because the components have run out,” and a studio full of “rusty little prototypes” she’s built from more industrial objects and tools, another burgeoning project of hers. Judging by the popularity of the classes she teaches at the Textile Arts Center (she’s also got upcoming courses at Williamsburg’s Sunday Suppers, as well as planned classes demonstrating projects she made for Lena Corwin’s book Made By Hand), she’s not the only one who’s interested. And it doesn’t hurt that through her deliberate, organic process, she’s also created an enviable business model that can expand and shift whenever and however she wants it to. Both seem likely. “If I ever came across a good hoard of vintage or antique minerals or gems, I would use those,” she says. “Maybe I should try to grow my own crystals!”
Photo by Austin McAllister