W hen is a spoon not just a spoon? When it's hand-crafted, shaped, and otherwise coaxed into existence in the Queens, New York, studio of Ariele Alasko. With a marked deference to the humble natural materials she works with, the Brooklyn-based woodworker makes strikingly beautiful tabletop items that are almost too precious to use. Before you dismiss this notion as mere hyperbole, witness the artist's wildly popular Instagram feed, which boasts nearly 370,000 followers—an impressive feat for anyone without the Kardashian name. Filled with rough-hewn vignettes, sneak peeks into Alasko's process and workspace, and a series of appearances by her endlessly photogenic pup, it's the stuff afternoon daydreams are made of. Join us for the ride.
"I signed up for Instagram in 2012, after watching my friend have fun with it for a few months. I didn't really understand how it worked or have any expectations about it. But I like its immediacy. I enjoy posting pictures of objects I just finished making or am currently working on. It's great for sharing life in the moment, snapping a photo, editing, posting, and then getting back to work. I mostly photograph my work and my studio, the things I make: spoons, cutting boards, my older work such as patterned wall panels. My dog, Mazie, comes in a close second. And when I travel I document that. I've been sharing less of the rest of my life over the last year or so. There's a balance between letting people in and keeping people out."
"I used to build wooden tables with patterned tops made from reclaimed lath. Then I stopped making legs for the tables, so my work became more art. In the meantime, I tried carving a few spoons and became enthralled with how good it felt to carve and shape hard woods by hand. I purposely shaped my life so that I can do the things I really enjoy, and spoon carving is currently at the top of that list. It feels satisfying, almost therapeutic—even though my hands ache constantly—and I consider each piece to be a small sculpture, carefully crafted."
"I've been driving across the country once a year for the last six years to visit my family in California, mostly because I love driving, hate flying, and refuse to go anywhere without my dog. This was my first time doing it alone. It was 32 days in total, and I drove 9,504 miles. I barely spoke to another human for 15 days other than ordering coffee and food. It was incredible. I had no plans, no real time frame. I just zigzagged through the back roads with as much spontaneity as I could. My car radio was broken but I certainly didn't make any efforts to fix it, because I knew sitting with my own thoughts for that many days would be great in itself. And it was. I thought a lot, and didn't think much at all sometimes. It was so refreshing!"
"I love wood and I like to collect things, and my photos reflect that. My life is filled with wood-tones, browns, grays, black, and white. I dress that way, and even my dog is accidentally brown and white. It's easy to get sucked in and spend too much time on Instagram, so I don't curate much. I've started to limit my time perusing, and I’m thinking of taking a few weeks off. It's a wonderful community and I appreciate what I have, but life is different being so constantly connected to so many people. I admire the people who take breaks."