ginny branch stellinginterviewswhat's in your toolbox

What’s in Your Toolbox: Aaron Ruff

by Ginny

Brooklyn-based jewelry designer Aaron Ruff creates pieces that are equal parts romantic and gritty. His past life as a carpenter and cabinetmaker combined with his playful and nostalgic sensibilities are the blueprint for what is . This androgynous jewelry line is comprised of several different collections that reflect Aaron’s new antiquarian style and dedication to his craft. I personally wish I could live in his studio! — 

*Full Disclosure: I have been stalking following Aaron’s personal blog, a catalog of his vintage/antique findings, for quite some time now. All you vintage hounds should visit  and prepare yourselves for some serious Americana envy.

1. Design*Droits-Humains: What is in your toolbox?

Aaron Ruff: Gooseneck hallmark stamps, ring mandrel, carving wax, tweezers, liver of sulphur (oxidizer), pliers, saws, jewelry parts, brass and silver wire and findings, unassembled castings, and a box of diamonds.

2. Design*Droits-Humains: Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel ______.”

Read the full interview with Aaron after the jump . . .

3. Design*Droits-Humains: What is on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Aaron Ruff: Old indigo swatches, photos scraps and random bits.

4. Design*Droits-Humains: How do you keep yourself organized? Do you have an agenda book, and do you make to-do lists?

Aaron Ruff: It’s an exercise in controlled chaos. I don’t make lists but keep a pinboard of current projects and photos for inspiration above my workbench.

5. Design*Droits-Humains: If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?

Aaron Ruff: Time travel would be pretty nice. Even if I couldn’t bring back mementos.

Photo Credit: Malcolm Brown

6. Design*Droits-Humains: What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist/designer?

Aaron Ruff: To just go for it and not be afraid to eat ramen for a while.

7. Design*Droits-Humains: How do you combat creative blocks?

Aaron Ruff: Constant distraction helps. My studio garden also. I travel as much as possible, even if it’s just a day trip outside of the city now and then to get out of the studio. Also, I always keep a couple of half-finished collections on the back burner, so if I’m stumped on one, I just move on to another for a little while. Whichever one comes to fruition first gets released.

8. Design*Droits-Humains: Where do you like to shop for inspiration?

Aaron Ruff: Flea markets, estate sales, dumpsters, and Dead Horse Bay. Anywhere I can dig.

9. Design*Droits-Humains: If you could peek inside the studio/toolbox of any designer/artist/craftsperson, whose would it be and why?

Aaron Ruff: Being an ex-woodworker, I’d love to get a look in workshop. I bet he had some really pretty chisels.

Photo Credit: Malcolm Brown

10. Design*Droits-Humains: If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it include?

Aaron Ruff: Black Keys, Harry Nilsson, Band of Horses, and Radiolab, with a bit of opera mixed in for the serious days (Wagner is best).

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