What led you to become a student at NBSS?
I loved being a teacher, but I visited NBSS on a trip and knew immediately that I didn't want to wait any longer to do what I'd always wanted to do. The quality of education available at NBSS gave me faith that if I was willing to invest the time, I would be able to live the life I'd always wanted. Since then, I've pushed myself in the shop, paid attention to my interests, taken my goals seriously, and treated my ambitions like they were attainable.
What was the best part of your education?
The best part of my education was finding myself in the craft. By that, I mean developing technical skills and my own personal style in tandem.
What are you up to now?
I'm embarking on a year of residencies and fellowships to begin developing my own body of work using the skills I learned at NBSS. Then, I'm moving to North Carolina to be the new Wood Shop Coordinator at The Penland School of Craft.
What advice do you have for NBSS students in your industry?
North Bennet is powerful place: the focus on traditional craft will shape your work and to some extent that is a very good thing. However, it is also essential that you develop your own design sense outside of the mandates of tradition, and that amongst all the strong voices, you hold on to who you are as a maker. Let traditional training guide and bolster your work, but don't let it completely define you as a maker.
I guess I think about it like this: What do you want your Tuesdays to look like? I want mine to be fulfilling. Because those Tuesdays make up your life. I want to spend my life doing something that interests me and provides me with a way to make a living.
Can you describe your work in just three words?
Clean, Weird, Sometimes-Ahead-of-Schedule
Favorite tool or machine?
Card scraper: it's a nondescript piece of metal that can do anything.
When basics are become intuitive. It happens when I notice that a skill I used to struggle with has become second nature. That's how I know I'm growing in the craft.
Best advice you've gotten?
Show up before the doors open, leave when they close.
Any advice for our graduating students?
Try to cultivate a variety of craft communities - there are a number of other schools and shops where you can take classes, do residencies, meet makers, develop skills and collaborate.
As a student, Aspen was interviewed for an article about NBSS in Korean Air's Morning Calm magazine.
She said, "'Quitting my job and coming to school here was a risky thing to do. But when I came to visit I could tell the teaching methods were good and I would get the skills I needed to become good quickly.
"...I guess I think about it like this: What do you want your Tuesdays to look like? I want mine to be fulfilling. Because those Tuesdays make up your life. I want to spend my life doing something that interests me and provides me with a way to make a living.'"