Artist & Jewelry Designer: Islay Taylor *An Interview*

Hi guys, Olivia here! Like I have said in previous posts, I really do have the most inspiring people in my life. Today I have the pleasure of introducing you an incredibly talented artist and one of my best friends, Islay Taylor. ((Pronounced Eye-Lah)).

Islay and I met about 4 years ago at RISD because she was teaching a Jewelry class that I was taking. She was and always is encouraging me to pursue whatever I love to do, and is always challenging me to do better. Islay is one of those people that you meet and know you’ll be friends for a long time. She is a very talented Jewelry designer, her ideas are conceptual and her techniques are meticulous. She has a Master’s in Jewelry and Metalsmithing from the Rhode Island School of Design and has been featured in many magazines including Vogue Italia…!

I really loved interviewing her and shooting her at her Jewelry studio on the West Side of Providence. She explained her new collection and how she arrived at the inspiration. We are so thankful to see how her ideas come to life in her studio and feel lucky to be able to share it with you now.

Ladies and gentlemen, Islay Taylor.

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when did you realize you were an artist?

“I’ve always had something inside of me that’s driven me to make artwork and experience the world in a uniquely observational way; although I don’t feel secure as an artist, per se. I’m constantly questioning the validity of my creativity, production, and thought process. If I were to stop challenging myself and get comfortable, I’d probably also become pretty stagnant and boring.”

when did you start making jewelry?

“I’ve been focused on jewelry as a creative outlet for over ten years now. Before that, I was mainly making large format fabricated and cast sculptures. Jewelry making is a very similar sculptural process, only smaller!”


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Us gals here at winter moon live our lives by inspiration, tell us, who or what inspires you?

“The current body of work that I’m making is inspired by a photography book by Jimmy Nelson called Before They Pass Away. He spent three years traveling around the world documenting indigenous cultures that are in decline. The photos are unbelievably breathtaking and just blew me away! He captures everything from the landscape to the individual people, to the clothes they’re wearing, and their adornments; it’s very anthropological.”

“I’m also really influenced by the people that I share my studio with. It’s a great environment and I can definitely tell that they’re effecting my work.”

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how does an idea become a piece of Jewelry?

“For me, it’s a process of day dreaming, sketching, building, messing up, remaking, finishing, and then putting it on! There isn’t a step-by-step route to transform an idea to a piece of artwork, I find that good ideas just sort of take root and grow into finished products all by themselves.”

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what inspired you to begin making jewelry?

“One of the things that I love most about jewelry is that it doesn’t live strictly in a gallery, museum, or on a pedestal. It gets worn, and goes out into the world in a very subversive way; the opportunity for engagement is much greater than the art forms I’d previously been working in; that’s what ultimately converted me!”

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When do you feel the most creative?

“I feel the most creative when my hands are moving. So, when I’m feeling uncreative, I can jump start things just by picking up a saw or a hammer.”

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describe Providence in a few words.

“For a jeweler, Providence is an oasis of supplies and resources.”

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tell us about your studio mates.

“The women that I share my studio space with are lovely! There are four of us in all, Christine, Marge, Mollie, and myself, and everyone works in a different way. There’s a lot of cross-pollination and dialogue that happens in our studio. It’s great to share space with people who are dedicated to their creative practice, and also happen to make amazing things! I haven’t shared a studio with such great makers since I was in school, I know I’m very lucky right now.”


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tell us about your studio and what you’ve chosen to surround yourself with.

“It’s really important for a studio space to not only function well, but to also be a place that you want spend time in. Our studio is very functional and comfortable, and reflects what each of us is currently working on. There are a ton of tools, machines and materials, but there’s also a common space and lounge area. Frequently, we’ll gather together to share wine and food, talk about art, and then begin collaboratively making new pieces together. Our studio is very fertile!”

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what’s your favorite piece of jewelry that you own?

“My favorite kind of jewelry memorializes a person or a place. I have a pendant made from the lucky silver dollar that my grandpa carried for his whole life that I treasure. I also always try to pick up trinkets when I’m traveling that I can make wearable by putting it on a chain. One of the necklaces that I’m wearing today is a pocket watch fob that I picked up while on hiking trip in England; every time I wear it I’m reminded of that adventure.”


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how would you describe your fashion style?

“I love wearing natural fibers, textures, patterns, and color. No matter what I wear, my outfit is always topped with accessories. I’m always pairing my clothing with scarves, necklaces, and bracelets.”

what you are wearing today?

“Today, I’m wearing a linen jacket from Anthropologie that I adore, and an embroidered cotton tunic. I’ve also wearing a couple necklaces that I made from antique pocket watch fobs.”


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what is one thing you can’t leave your house without?

“I never leave home without my sense of humor.”


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what is your favorite quote?

“A spring wind moves to dance any branch that isn’t dead.” -Rumi

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Do you have any words of advice would you give to our readers?

“Be brave and nourish the creative parts of you because you never know what beautiful things will blossom.”


Be sure to check out Islay’s website here and you can purchase some of her gorgeous jewelry here!




photography // editing by Olivia


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