Interview with Hannah Rogge, Author of Hardwear: Jewelry from a Toolbox
Pictured above: (Top to Bottom, Left to Right) Hardwear book cover, The Wide S-Hook Bracelet, Washer Chain Earrings, Photo of Hannah Rogge, and the Elegant Nut Necklace.
There’s nothing more fun that making jewelry. It’s fast, easy, and you can customize it to your own personal style. But who even knew that a trip to the hardware store could create such beatuiful baubles!!! In the new book, Hardwear: Jewelry from a Toolbox, author and designer Hannah Rogge teaches us how to make some of the hippest looking accessories with supplies we can all get from our local hardware store. First off, I love the design and industrial feel of the book — I love the cardboard tabs that separate each section by hardware goods such as washers, rope, nuts, and so on. Makes it easy when I walk down the aisle of the hardware store. The book itself is also spiral bound so it’s easy to read and work on projects. Some of my favorites are the Elegant Nut Necklace, Woven Washer Belt (perfect with long skirts), and the Clear Chain Bracelet. This book is perfect for any crafter interested in starting to make jewelry or for those experienced jewelry designers to try their hand at something different. In this interview with designer Hannah Rogge, we talk more about her new book Hardwear as well her love of design.
Nat: Please tell me about your design background.
Hannah: The short answer to my design background is that I graduated from Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2000, and have done many different things in my professional career from designing photo frames to visual merchandising for a museum store to building props and designing for animated Christmas window displays (which is what I do now as my day job- believe it or not, it’s a year-round process). For the past 5 or so years I have also had dark blue hair (inspired by wonder woman) that usually identifies me as a creative type. The slightly longer answer to my design background is that I have always loved to make things and to work with my hands. As a kid I spent my summer months constructing elaborate birthday parties to celebrate my day in early September, when all my friends would be back in town for the start of school. I would pick a theme and make everything from the invitations to the life size paper-mache and chicken wire “pirate ship” in my parent’s dining room. (I’m an only child with awesome parents- but I’m not spoiled, just lucky. They would get into it too. Besides it kept me occupied.) In the early 90’s bead stores started popping up in my neighborhood and I took a liking to spending my weekends making jewelry. I would bring friends and we would make a day of it.
Nat: Your new book Hardwear shows us how we can all make beautiful jewelry all from the hardware store. How did you discover this?
Hannah: Well, unfortunately, what I’ve really discovered is that the “love of making things” doesn’t exactly bring in the money. One Christmas season I was thinking about what I was going to do for my friends for the holidays and thought that making something would be more cost effective then buying something, especially given the high quality of taste my friends seem to have. I was in the hardware store for some reason or another and started walking the isles just looking around. I find a hardware store to be similar in inspiration to an art supply store — all those parts and materials just waiting to be turned into something. It occurred to me that nuts are about the size of beads and I wondered if I could come up with an interesting and successful way of stinging them together. I went home and played around with a couple of things until I found one that worked. I turned this idea into a pair of “elegant nut earrings” for my friend Frances, who was also an industrial design classmate with an affinity toward hardware parts. The earrings were such a success that I continued to make different versions for other friends I made a necklace from that design and then went back to the store for more inspiration and other possibles. I also wanted to make something for the boys.
My pile of designs just grew and grew: hardware parts lend themselves to jewelry well, as most are recognizably simple geometric shapes with shiny, durable or bold surfaces. Since there are no secretes to the supplies used for the jewelry, I thought it could be a good book to encourage others to either make or expand upon the designs that I had come up with. I pitched the jewelry and possibilities for the construction of the book to a few publishers and found an editor who got excited. I am so incredibly lucky to have found her because the book turned out to be close to my initial vision and I know that hardly ever happens.
Nat: What are some of your favorite projects from the book?
Hannah: My favorite project from the book is probably the “Elegant Nut Necklace”. That project was the first design. I’m not sure that the photo in the book really does it justice actually, but the necklace has a very elegant “light” look to it. It is only upon a closer examination that your audience realizes the shiny silver pieces are nuts- a hardware part almost everyone recognizes. It is also a perfect example of the high/ low contrast inherent in this jewelry. Although that is my favorite project, I wear the O, Oh O-ring bracelet every day because I don’t have to take it off in the shower, and therefore don’t bother. I also find myself wearing the Washer Chain Earrings a lot. I have them in the “silver” (nickel) washers and the “gold” (brass) washers. Hum, but now that I’m thinking about it, I like and wear almost all of the pieces! Haha..if I do say so myself. I get a lot of compliments on the clear chain bracelet and the S-hook bracelet as well.
Nat: What kinds of tips and resources can share with our readers who are aspiring jewelry makers?
Hannah: I enjoy seeing the parts and pieces in person so my recommendation would probably be to go to your local hardware store and walk the isles looking for inspiration. The book has a glossary in the back so that you can see a drawing of the “thingy” you might need for a project. I wasn’t even entirely sure myself what some things were called and I use hardware parts every day at my job, so I hope that the glossary helps. Besides, I was excited to have some of the book printed onto craft paper like the paper bags usually used in a hardware store. For jewelry parts, I have a large catalog from Rio Grande that has every kind of jewelry finding you might ever want, need or dream of. Again I prefer to go to a bead store or a craft store (like Michael’s) to decide on the pieces in person but there’s no real advantage if you know what you want. I just enjoy exploring stores I guess.
Nat: What more can we see from you this Spring/Summer?
Hannah: …and for my next trick, I’ll be coming out with another craft book called Save This Shirt. It has nothing to do with accessorizing with hardware but instead accessorizing with old t-shirts that are too large and frumpy or majorly stained to wear as is. Somehow my closet has collected a ridiculous amount of extra large t-shirts and there are really only so many that I can sleep in. So, I started to experiment. Save this Shirt will have very clear, easy to follow instructions similar to Hardwear (my illustration style is the same). It will also actually come with a compressed t-shirt to begin experimenting — just in case you are afraid to cut up that concert t-shirt you have been holding on to until sometime when you’ll figure out how to make it wearable.
You can also find out more about Hannah Rogge in her Craftsanity Podcast interview.
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