Aina Sullivan

April 18, 2023

Aina Black Stone Alchemy Headshot - Aina Sullivan

Aina Sullivan

Pronouns: She/Her
Identity: Black/Indigenous/Queer woman
Instagram | Website

Introduce Yourself:

My name is Aina (She/Her), I identify as a Black and Indigenous woman. I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, raised in New Jersey, and have lived in many places on the east coast. I’m currently living and working in southern New Hampshire. I have been exploring various styles of jewelry-making and studio art for over ten years, both formally and self-taught. I started Black Stone Alchemy in January 2020 to engage with and create ethical and accessible self-care adornments. My work as a jeweler ranges from minimalist copper jewelry, such as earrings, rings, and necklaces, to textured geometric amulets inspired by Afro-Futurism. Tying into my West African and Native American roots, I work with copper due to its traditional role in pre-colonial ceremonial jewelry making.

Tell us about your work:

I am a Black/Indigenous artist and a student of ancestral-based practices. I have been exploring metalsmithing and fine crafts for over a decade, both formally and self-taught. I am dedicated to creating wearable art that is both aesthetically pleasing and meaningful. At Black Stone Alchemy, I predominantly work with copper wire and use ethically sourced, semi-precious gemstones in my designs. My intention is to create alchemical jewelry that serves as a tool for self-reflection and personal growth for the wearer.

The Emperor Amulet Copper wire, Tigers Eye, Smoky Quartz, and Amethyst 2022

How did you start your metalsmithing/materialsmithing/adornment journey?

My professional journey in metalworking has been a winding one. I first began dabbling in the craft in 2009 through the FIT pre-college metals program. During my time at Smith College, I took a break from jewelry making to explore other forms of art. However, I eventually returned to jewelry making, specifically wire wrapping, and became enamored with the intricate weaving techniques and the idea of creating secure connections without soldering, similar to how my ancestors crafted ceremonial adornments. My current practice is a form of tribute to my heritage through the medium of craft

How does your identity relate to your work? If at all?

My metalworking practice is deeply rooted in my West African and Native American heritage. In particular, I work with copper, which has a rich history in pre-colonial ceremonial jewelry making. I see adornment as a grounding, self-expression, and care ritual. Through my work, I create jewelry and metaphysical tools for spiritualists, witches, diviners, healers, and those who are marginalized to connect with their sources of power and protection.

Rainbow Moonstone Amulet Copper wire, Rainbow Moonstone, Onyx, Amethyst, and Hematite 2022

What are the main concepts in your work?

The main concepts in my work are intricate weaving techniques, the use of copper wire, and the spiritual significance of adornment. My work often reflect my interest in traditional craftsmanship and fashion by incorporating detailed weavings that resemble textile work.. The use of different gauges of copper wire adds depth and dimension to the pieces.

Can you share a bit about your conceptual development?

I don’t always have a set plan when I start making something. Instead, I find inspiration from various sources such as books, classes, and tutorials and let my imagination guide me as I work on a piece. I enjoy allowing my ideas to evolve and change as I go along, and I am open to the spontaneous inspiration that comes in the moment. This allows for a more organic and dynamic approach to my work.

Chevron Amethyst Amulet Copper wire and Amethyst 2021

How do you take a break and reset?

Taking a break for me looks like petting my cat, having a snack, or playing animal crossing. My go-to for resetting my energy is visiting bodies of water.

What is your favorite tool, material, or process?

My favorite tool is the flex shaft

What is something no one has ever asked you that you would like to answer?

My advice for aspiring makers or those just starting out in the field would be to never stop learning and experimenting. Always be open to trying new techniques, materials and methods, and don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to find your unique style. It takes time and practice to develop your own path within the field and to become proficient in your craft. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from more experienced makers, join a community of artists, attend workshops, and read books and tutorials. Building a network of peers and mentors can be invaluable in your journey as a maker.

What do you want to see in the field in order for it be more supportive?

In order for the field of crafts to be more supportive, I believe it is crucial to increase outreach and access to resources for BIPOC students to learn about and pursue a career path in fine crafts. This can be achieved through targeted mentorship programs, workshops, and educational opportunities specifically designed for underserved communities. By doing this, we can help to break down barriers and create a more inclusive and equitable environment for all aspiring makers and artisans.

*** All interviews have been edited for clarity and brevity


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