Alexandra Dodds can’t sit still. With a workbench covered in little lost diamonds and gold and silver dust, she has a need to keep her hands busy — a sign of creative urgency perhaps?
In an old pair of jeans and comfortable Vans the Wellington-born, Vancouver BC-based, self-taught jeweller keeps her days full with fistfuls of silver. She describes herself as quiet and shy at times — a trait that has not inhibited her ability to put her work amongst the best in the business. The 28-year-old who is only four years into her career, has already exhibited in trade shows in both Italy and New York.
Residing on the top floor of a heritage building with its hard-wood floors, beautiful tiles and optimal view of the mountains and water; the fine arts graduate from Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design, says moving from a sculpture and drawing-based practice came naturally:
“Initially I made about 7 pieces in bronze just for myself. I was working in a coffee shop and constantly had people commenting and enquiring to purchase. Picking up the odd custom project grew into being contacted by stores.”
Soon realising that it was a viable career option, one day she quit her job and has been working full time on the business for the past year.
She clearly has a natural eye for form and beauty with a gracefully raw aesthetic; her gold and silver rings — some with the most delicately embedded gemstones — appear on her workbench and eventually reside artfully on fingers; their beautifully molten quality as if derived from volcanic matter.
Currently deep in production mode, Alexandra has stockists around the globe and has recently been picked up by international online retailer, Free People.
In-between meeting demand, she attends to a number of bespoke pieces: “I really enjoy making custom work [because] each project is different and I love the process of working closely with someone and bringing their ideas to life.”
Alexandra starts with rough sketches and then hand carves each piece out of wax (or other organic materials). Her love of the lost wax process provides her with an ability to create textures and shapes that cannot be fabricated from sheet metal.
Neither mentored nor formally trained, Alexandra still looks up to others in the industry. She is a great admirer of long-time experimentalist Karl Fritsch, of whom she says, strikes a great balance between being an artist and a jeweller. Fritsch’s carefree, organic approach to the creative process aligns with her own search for that unique quality in a piece that makes it beautifully rare. With a fondness for experimentation, she is aware that learning-by-doing and making mistakes along the way has been beneficial to her practice — had she been formally trained, her work would look quite different.
With a natural business acumen, Alexandra oversees every aspect of the brand and business, including; marketing, sales, product, photography and graphic design. She doesn’t deny that it’s hard work, but down to the smallest of details, having her hand in the overall vision seems intuitive — she makes every single leather pouch that her jewellery has been sold in.
As for whether she finds it difficult being so far from home; Alexandra acknowledges the benefits of her current location and the accessibility of traveling for international trade shows, with the downside being, that she misses New Zealand’s peaceful lifestyle with its open spaces, and longs for a New Zealand summer; family, friends and family pets.
But there are a few things with a strong New Zealand connection that she can’t live without: “My collection of my Miss Crabb silks which I have collected over the last few of years. Miss Crabb was one of the first boutiques to pick up my line when I was starting out, [so] we’re big fans of each others work and both have a good collection of each others pieces,” she says.
To get your fistfuls of silver, see the links below: