There is so much artistic influence everywhere in Oregon, so I am extremely excited to meet designers who also call this state home.
I recently interviewed the jewelry designer Erin Hasler of Ija Designs who creates gorgeous jewelry inspired by her natural surroundings. She lives with her husband and two young children in the mountainous city of Bend, Oregon and uses her metalsmithing talents and an eye for colorful gemstones to design unique pieces that have a minimal impact on the Earth. As the future turns towards sustainability in all areas of design, I was excited to hear about how she keeps this as a priority in her work...and also a little about some of her favorite things!
Describe your personal style...
I’d have to say that my personal style is pretty laid back. My days are so crazy with work and my two little ones that things need to function to make it into heavy rotation. I’m a total jeans whore and usually just throw on a tank top with some skinny jeans. On the rare nights that my husband and I get to go out, I try to dress up a bit. That generally entails loose sweater dresses over leggings and my Frye harness boots. I can’t walk in heels.
What is your favorite piece of jewelry?
My favorite piece of jewelry is a charm bracelet that my daughter Dylan made for me for Mother's Day (she's four). The bracelet is made up of various glass and silver beads that she piced out and strung for herself.
Who are your favorite designers (jewelry and other)?
My favorite jewelry artist right now is Christine J. Brandt. She does phenomenal work with exotic hardwoods and stones in their natural state. I would love to have one of her rings. I'm also a huge fan of Souchi, a local line out of Portland. Suzi creates the most incredible designs in the softest cashmere ever. I've been coveting her new knit headpieces that channel Rosie the Riveter.
Tell me more about what makes a sustainable material.
The jewelry industry is obviously hard on the Earth, as all our materials must be mined for use. I've chosen to use recycled materials and to recycle all my scrap materials. By recycling scrap materials we're able to continue creating new pieces without mining for more raw materials. With stones I think it's important to research who you're purchasing from and their mining practices. As with all things, if more people begin to demand products that are produced through sustainable practices and ethically responsible companies we will begin to create a shift in how all business are run.
What do you like about living in Bend, Oregon? How does it affect your designs?
I love the small town feel in Bend; I can't go to the grocery store without running into people I know. The outdoor recreation here is phenomenal. We take our kids canoeing, hiking, snowshoeing, and snowboarding. I know that my surroundings definitely have an influence on my work, especially some newer pieces that I'm working on. I've been fascinated with translating textures I find in nature to metal and every walk to the park is an adventure to find some new texture.
Tell me about your tattoos.
My tatoos...let's see...I have quite a few. I have some phenomenal work and some work that could use some love, but I don't regret any of them. They represent various points in my life and are part of who I am. I have an "ohm" on the top of my left foot...it's a reminder to stay balanced and to just breathe when life becomes overwhelming...a useful tool with two little ones. I have a half sleeve on my right arm that's a piece in honor of my family and as soon as my son is done nursing I'm getting both arms fully sleeved. So excited!!
What are you reading right now?
Maya Angelou's "The Heart of a Woman"
What music are you into right now?
I love music. All of it. But lately I've been really feeling Bat for Lashes, Lykke Li, Nick Drake, and my brother's band, My New Vice.
Erin's gorgeous earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings are available on her website at Ija Designs. If you live in Portland, Ija Designs jewelry is available at Hot Box Betty at 1623 NE 15th St.