Ashley Weber of against the grain: 2014 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Design (VIDEO)

Becky Bartkowski
Ashley Weber sits in her small home studio.
You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives, and the results are in. Introducing our 2014 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch and Chow Bella will introduce the finalists. Up today: Ashley Weber.

Disembodied dragonfly wings, gemstones by the handful, teeth, and a variety of flora top the tables and fill the many tiny drawers in designer Ashley Weber's home studio.

The small space is jam-packed with baubles in various stages of completion and tools including dowels and a variety of colorful pliers that would look at home next to a dentist chair.

Despite the methodical laboratory vibe, the jewelry she makes for her company, against the grain, is inspired by the outdoors.

See also: "Urban Legend" Award Celebrates Creative Phoenix Pioneers in Honor of New Times' Fifth Big Brain Awards

Ashley Weber
The jewelry designer uses natural elements, like leaves, to create some of her metal pieces, like these rings made with her rolled organics technique.

"Nature has always been the muse behind my work," says 28-year-old Weber, an avid hiker, camper, and backpacker who collects leaves during her exploits. "Every adventure I go on, every trip somewhere new leaves an impression, sparks a thought, inspires me to push my work in new directions and use my tools and materials in different, unexplored ways."

Lately, she's experimented with rolled organics to create rings and necklaces. It's a method that involves creating an imprint of a leaf or one of those dragonfly wings on metal. Once the imprint is created, the specimen is rendered crushed. So there are no repeats if something goes wrong.

"You're either devastated or you're like, 'Ah, that's amazing,'" she says.

The process is a challenge for Weber, who studied product design at ASU and found jewelry making as an outlet for her creativity in a major that was more technical than she expected.

Weber has worked for another local jeweler (whom she'd prefer not to name) for nearly a decade, learning the business side of design and gradually taking on less and less hours there so that Weber can spend more time working on her own business.

Very soon, she says, she hopes to devote all her working hours to against the grain.

Video by Evie Carpenter.

Location Info


Bunky Boutique

1437 N. 1st St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General


10 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

ASU Art Museum

51 E. 10th St., Tempe, AZ

Category: General

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