From the Earth: Conversations With Ashley Powell
Ashley Powell is the creative force behind ASHN EARTH and a regular around the shop. If you follow us on instagram, you definitely know her work. Ashley's floral arrangements and installations are legendary (and so are her wreath pop-ups). She is one of my favorite people to talk to about anything. Her perspective is refreshing and I always learn something new. Scroll to read our interview with Ashley where she talks shop, shares secrets and fills us in on what she's reading. Of course we also asked about her favorite things in Philly and her picks around the shop.
Q: What is something that inspires your arrangements?
A: A natural, undisturbed landscape. There are so many details and nuances that are often overlooked, and it’s absolutely intoxicating to take them all in. I like to think of my work as an expression of the east coast landscapes, and the uniqueness and diversity found within them. The entanglement of different flora and how they interact and react to their surroundings is nothing short of inspiring. My most stimulating moments come from quiet walks in the woods or through a field, and just simply observing. Other times I get a spike of inspiration through craving a color or texture, or through a piece of art I connect with.
Q: Your work always has such an organic look, when you are creating something do you have an end goal in mind or does it change as you go?
A: It really depends on the project I’m working on. Creating smaller pieces or arrangements is a very organic process orchestrated by the materials I’m using. Larger pieces and installations start with a sketched vision, and the outcome is usually very inline with my intention. I don’t like to over-plan every detail, so there is always an element of improvisation. In larger pieces, I allow the materials I’ve chosen to express themselves, which I think results in a pretty organic design.
Q: What are you reading right now or watching?
A: My partner gifted me this beautiful book “The Psychology of Plants” by the late 19th century Welsh mystic who goes by the name of Charubel. It’s an absolutely fascinating look into the occult values of flora — from lichens to trees and covers some stones as well! I’ve always been interested in learning about the way different cultures value and use plants, my reading list is almost always entirely environment related. But I’ve really been finding occult practices to be especially fascinating and curious!
Q: Any particular flower or plant that you just can’t get enough of right now?
A: Bearded Iris! I’ve been living vicariously through my photo library full of them from late spring.
Q: What is your favorite Philly hidden gem?
A: Brickbat Books on Fabric Row is such a Philly gem. They have an amazing collection of new and vintage art books as well as other independently published pieces. I always leave feeling inspired.
Q: We know you are a vintage lover and collector, what is your favorite vintage piece in your closet right now?
I have a few pieces in my collection that I absolutely love! Probably my most prized piece is this amazing 1910’s long sleeve chambray uniform dress. It has black MOP buttons up the sleeves, and the fit of it is so unique and beautiful. It has a bit of a modern look to it, and yet it's mind-blowing to me to think about the era it was born and worn in. Another piece that I adore in my collection is a late 19th century French gingham skirt. It has so much charm — the whole piece is hand-stitched with lots of hand-mends and beautiful areas of patchwork. For me, vintage clothing is all the details that tell a story. Hand-stitching and mends in a piece are such a signature of the previous life, or lives, lived in these pieces. I’m a bit of a sentimentalist, so it feels like such a privilege to continue the legacy of these really special garments!
Q: What are your favorite things in the shop right now?
A: Oh! The KasMaria Summer Gingham Set with the Sun Hat. It’s so cute, and I don’t think you could feel like anything less than a ray of sunshine wearing that set! Also, the ceramic vessels by Pascale Vacquette. They are stunning sculptures on their own, and so fun to arrange some gathered flowers in.