A few weeks ago, while we were preparing to cover Noavakay Knight’s wedding at the Ritz, we were struck by a Facebook post of the bride’s unique tiara: a copper band with five crystal prongs at center — funky and elegant all at once. The tiara was designed by Jessica Kramer, a friend of the bride’s and owner of the Aquinnah-based company Hawkhouse raw mineral jewelry. The Times caught up with Ms. Kramer to learn more about her unique designs and creative process.
First off, what is electroforming? Can you explain the process a little bit and tell us how you got into such a unique art form?
Electroforming is the slow process of growing copper on a conductive surface. It’s essentially the same idea as chrome or gold plating, but with a copper-rich solution over a much longer time. I saw a picture of a real lobster claw that had been electroplated, and went on an online search to find out more about it. The possibilities are endless. I’ve always been a rock hound, so I’ve been stuck on rocks and minerals, but you can electroform leaves, bones, pinecones … really anything that you can fit into your solution by coating it with a conductive paint.
Where do you source your materials from? What are some of your favorite materials to work with?
I’ve been going to gem and mineral shows for years, long before I found this process. I already had a nice collection of minerals to start with, and friends in the gem industry. Picking a favorite stone is like picking a favorite food. To think that my job includes walks to the beach, sorting stones by colors and sizes, and getting to share my love of science and minerals with others is beyond a dream come true.
You use a lot of natural, organic shapes and colors. What sorts of things inspire your jewelry?
Raw minerals are really difficult to set with traditional jewelry techniques, making it expensive and uncommon. I’m so excited to have carved a niche of accessible jewelry that embraces the incredibleness of our natural world. I really hope that the wearer of my pieces feel a little more connected in this great mystery of life.
I hitchhiked to California after graduating from high school in Nebraska, and found it much colder than expected. I ended up in Hawaii for a year, where I met one of my best friends, Rachel McDonald. She got me a job at the Aquinnah Shop the following summer. I traveled the world in the winters, and would come back to work in the summers, like many. I ended up meeting Martin Hawksbee three years ago and falling silly in love, setting up for my first Aquinnah winter. I started an Etsy shop for my jewelery between shucking scallops, and now winters on the Island are my favorite.
Do you sell anywhere on Island in addition to your Etsy store?
I’m in Citrine in Vineyard Haven (which was my second wholesale account. I now have somewhere over 40) and Driftwood Jewelry in Oak Bluffs. I’m having a trunk show at Driftwood on Dec. 23 for any last-minute shoppers.
Anything cool or different you’ve been working on lately? Tell us more about this tiara.
The tiara for Noava’s wedding was such a treat to make. When I moved to Aquinnah year-round, Noava was the first person to go out of her way to make me feel at home. When she told me she was getting married — in less than a week from our conversation — I asked if I could make her one. I’d love to make a line of decadent headpieces, but Christmas orders must come first.
For more information on Hawkhouse, visit hawkhouse.net.