Tailgate market season is back, and while many Ashevilleans are eager to fill their baskets with local, fresh kale and baguettes, other shoppers have their eyes on a different prize: fine jewelry. Starting on Saturday, April 5, tailgate markets will begin to crop up at 17 area locations. One local artist, Alexandria (Ali) Reznikoff, is especially excited to start the new season. For Reznikoff, tailgate markets offer an opportunity to meet with potential customers, reconnect with fellow vendors and sometimes simply bask in the sun as she sells her handcrafted silver jewelry. She will sell her wares at the Montford farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and at Asheville City Market on Saturdays.
Known as The Silversmith on Etsy.com, a popular website for indie artists to sell their work, Reznikoff has been crafting simple, elegant jewelry designs professionally since her move to Asheville in 2010. When she arrived here, she remembers people telling her how great Asheville was — “If you can get a job.” With that warning in mind, says Reznikoff, “I decided to focus on creating art and selling it on the Internet, because then I wouldn’t only be relying on the local economy.” As time progressed, however, she began to branch out into the Asheville craft scene — with positive results. “It’s a really good community,” she says. “And [the tailgate markets are] a good way for me to consistently interact with locals without having a store. I’m able to see my clients and interact with them, whereas on Etsy, I don’t know who they are.”
Connection is important to Reznikoff, who says she hopes to bring a simple piece of beauty to people’s every day lives. “I want people to interact and use my work. I want it to be functional,” she says. “I try to make things that will last through the generations. My aesthetic is ‘classic’ with a twist, so hopefully it’s timeless and can be passed down. I hope people will wear it everyday for the rest of their lives, so that their children associate the jewelry with them.”
While she is relatively new to selling her jewelry professionally, Reznikoff’s interest in the craft dates back to her childhood. She grew up outside New York City in South Orange, N.J., where she recalls first being impressed by metalwork. Her best friend’s grandfather was a machinist, and she says she was blown away by the fact that he could create jewelry in his free time. Reznikoff describes his pieces as “tiny sculptures,” minute pieces of art that she aspired to create. Although her first craft was woodwork, she picked up the basics of metalworking during a weeklong course at the Kulick Arts Center in Manhattan. She didn’t pursue the craft, however, until a few years after college when she began working for an Egyptian-born jeweler in Manhattan, who fashioned ornate necklaces, bracelets and earrings with semiprecious stones and 18-karat gold. But even that experience did not concretize Reznikoff’s dedication to jewelry. After only 18 months, she moved to Maine, where she returned to woodwork and furniture-making.
Of her restless, creative spirit, Reznikoff says, “I consider myself to be an artist who uses different mediums. People tell me, ‘You’re a woodworker,’ but I’m an artist who works with wood. … It’s not about the history of the techniques, so much as me expressing myself through these techniques.”
These days, Reznikoff feels jewelry offers the best outlet for her self-expression. “Jewelry is very emotional,” she says. “It represents memories and ideas. So, for example, you wear a wedding ring — you like the ring well enough. But you’re not wearing it to wear a ring, you’re wearing it to represent your connection to somebody else.” She does divorce rings too, explaining, “People will contact me and say, ‘I just went through a divorce, and I want to get something for myself to represent everything that I’ve overcome.’” The sentiment fits into Reznikoff’s central goals for being an artist: “I want to make sure [my art] has a positive message to it.”
Reznikoff notes that the tailgate markets inspire her to keep on pushing. “They get me away from my bench,” she says, “which I need. Right now, it’s just me doing everything for the business.”
For more about Reznikoff and her work, visit madebyalexandria.com and thesilversmith.etsy.com.