It seemly highly appropriate that National Beer Day falls on a Friday—what better way to kick off the weekend?
National Beer Day is an unofficial holiday every April 7, though Virginia officially recognized the holiday in 2018 and started celebrating—likely with a cold one—in 2019. The date was chosen because April 7 was when the Cullen-Harrison Act was enacted in 1933, reversing the U.S. prohibition on selling beer.
In honor of National Beer Day, here is a look at three jewelry makers for whom beer serves as inspiration or subject—and maybe even the reason for becoming a jewelry designer.
Denise Harrison (no relation to Harrison of the Cullen-Harrison Act) says beer is a driving force behind the jewelry she designs for her Bend, Ore., company Sterling Echoes. The textures and patterns on her fine jewelry come from beer bubbles and the foam that results from pouring beer into a glass.
To create her jewelry, Harrison starts with a photograph she has taken, one of her drawings, or a computer-generated piece of art. For example, she’ll take a photo of the foam on the side of a glass that looks like a tree or other organic shape, then manipulate it in a software program. The first step is to strip away any color so you can see the pure form.
Next, that image is printed onto press-and-peel paper used in etching. Harrison etches images onto copper, and she creates wax pieces with those copper etch plates. Harrison uses the lost-wax method to cast jewelry from these plates onto sterling silver and gold. Each piece is hand-patinated and polished, ready for the beer-loving wearer.
Harrison says she also does custom work. So whether you prefer an IPA or an amber, you’ll know that your piece of jewelry is a reflection of the beer you love. “You can send me a picture or you can send me the beer. I’m happy to drink it for you,” Harrison says with a laugh.
Her jewelry journey started when she was making pieces at home as a hobby. Harrison needed a ring mandrel, and someone suggested she look at the local college bookstore. It turned out the college held metal classes, and Harrison signed up for one.
Harrison, who was working in information technology at the time, ended up taking multiple jewelry classes to learn the techniques. Her hobby had developed into a business as she took her work to art fairs and local stores and sold it through her website.
She occasionally receives some odd inquires because her jewelry business shows up when you search “beer jewelry” on the internet. Some people will ask if her work is made from beer tabs or old cans; she answers politely that she works only in precious metals, not tin or aluminum.
She came up with the business name because at the time she used to work mostly in sterling silver and “echoes” referred to how Harrison likes to work in abstract, making the jewelry reflective of its inspiration without being a direct reproduction of it.
“It has a story—you have to dig a little bit deeper to know what it is,” Harrison says.
Wheat is a key ingredient in many beers, and a fun ingredient that the whimsical jewelry brand Delicacies loves to represent in its work. The St. Paul, Minn.-based jeweler is committed to fighting hunger, so you give to good causes with every purchase of its wheat-shaped jewelry.
The brand, co-founded by Nicolle R. Nelson and John Peter Larson, donates 10% of profits to help provide meals to the underserved. They choose local organizations so they can donate both money and time.
According to the Delicacies team, wheat is an ideal symbol in jewelry because it is believed to promote prosperity, renewal, fertility, and that all-important quality for makers like themselves: creativity.
Hopped Up Jewelry
When Hopped Up Jewelry creator and designer Kimberly Markley moved from Ohio to Bend, Ore., she found a great part-time job at a small pub, “pouring tasty Pacific Northwest beer for thirsty, craft-beer-loving folk,” as she says. She created a pair of beer-themed earrings to wear to work.
“I made a pair of hop flower earrings to celebrate my appreciation of their mighty flavor—and to spice up the boring beer swag T-shirts I was required to wear to work at the bar,” Markley says. “Many of the ladies who spotted them wanted a pair for themselves and for their friends, and that’s how Hopped Up Jewelry was born.”
After taking some time off to travel, Markley moved back to central Oregon and invested time in growing her jewelry hobby into a full-time job.
“I never meant to start a line of jewelry dedicated to my love of the beer community. I did not mean to spend my weekends obsessively tinkering with designs in my tiny studio or years building a small business,” Markley says. “It just happened because I love creating well-made objects for people to wear and feel beautiful.
“It gives me immense joy to spot women wearing their hop earrings while raising pints of their favorite craft beverages with their friends in the sunshine on the patios of my local breweries. That’s the good life here in the Pacific Northwest,” she says.
Top: Sterling Echoes’ Beer Speak Tree necklace ($375) features an image that company founder Denise Harrison says she found in a glass of beer. (Photo courtesy of Sterling Echoes)
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