Cultured Magazine

February/March 2015

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110 CULTURED MATERIAL GIRL If you ask a room full of experts to share their advice for finding success in business, more than half will likely say, "Network." But these days, there's another word that's quickly replacing that surefire advice: Instagram. Take, for example, Ariele Alasko, who refers to herself as a woodworker and counts over 300,000 followers. "I'm the worst business person," says the 27-year-old Monterey, California, native, half in jest, half in truthful self-deprecation. "About 90 to 95 percent of my sales come from people finding out through Instagram. And a lot of my other maker friends say the same thing." Though you may come across @arielealasko's wood creations on your phone, you'll have to pay a visit to her Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, studio to get your hands on one. Among the swoon- worthy Southwestern-meets-Arts-and-Crafts period creations are multi-wood headboards, hand-shaped salad spoons and her new obsession: bowls. "I started carving spoons, and everything I've learned since then has been self-taught. Now, I'm teaching myself this, which is probably the scariest thing I've used," she says, pointing to her lathe. "The machine is stretching my abilities to inspire myself." Like many of the maker generation, Alasko learned much of her technique through YouTube and other Internet aids. But make no mistake, Alasko is, in fact, a trained artist in sculpture from Pratt Institute. "Sculpture these days is like, 'What does this mean? What are you feeling?' I wanted to make sculptures that were beautiful or functional, and that's not what the art world is about." While her father is rather handy, and is where she thinks she might have intuitively picked up the knack for craft, Alasko admits, "I was always a tomboy and liked things that 'weren't for girls.'" Tall and ethereal, with long, honey-flecked brown hair, the California-cool beauty certainly does possess that ambitious spirit—a trait that fuels her to continually challenge herself. "I'm super-competitive," she says. "This week I was really bothered by some comments I received on Instagram, questioning my ability. So, in response, I challenged myself by carving a chain—out of one solid piece." And there, in her studio (and on her feed), hangs said chain: three individual links carved directly from a piece of Monterey cypress from California. We can't wait to see the result of her next challenge. From her Brooklyn studio, Ariele Alasko is carving out a formidable place in the new craft movement. BY JULIE BAUMGARDNER PORTRAIT BY ARDEN WRAY

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