Certain plant materials and local fibers grow best in certain climates. When we source bioregional material, we reduce our use of resources, consciously consume everyday products, and give back to our local ecosystem, directly supporting a dynamic local economy. Raegen Knight of Raegen Knight Jewelry sources everything – from metal to the tools she uses – from the USA, to make “beautiful objects that honor the purpose and history of jewelry”. She is “dedicated to preserving the craft and the culture of handmade”, and committed to ensuring that our local economy and ecosystem will continue to strengthen and thrive. Read on to learn more about Handmade 2018 maker Raegen Knight.
Here at The Ecology Center, we are inspired by nature’s perfect design – where there is no waste, and everything is regenerative. As we set out to model what our ideal looks like, we’ve identified the importance of sourcing local materials as a founding principle of Handmade and one solution for regenerative/sustainable production. Can you speak to this point as a jewelry designer? Why were you drawn to using recycled metals and producing your goods in the United States?
Raegen Knight of Raegen Knight Jewelry: Jewelers are some of the best recyclers out there, partly because precious metals are just so expensive, but also because the nature of metal makes it so easy to repurpose. Any scraps that I can’t melt down for casting or incorporate into other pieces are sent back to my metal supplier for refining. There are lots of metal suppliers that sell certified recycled metal to the jewelry industry, so I guess the question is – why wouldn’t anyone choose to use recycled materials? I love starting out with ‘new’ recycled metal and then being able to put every ounce of that back into the cycle.
During my first semester of art school, I bought a 4×4 inch square of silver. I remember being stunned at the price and then using every scrap because I just didn’t have the money to buy more metal. Expense aside, I fell in love with the process and the way that working with my hands connected me to human history. Jewelry is one of the oldest human art forms and is found in virtually every culture. If we respect our history and culture, we have to also commit ourselves to preservation. In my work, I hope that I’m doing this. I’m dedicated to preserving the craft and the culture of handmade, but also to ensuring that our local economy and environment will continue to strengthen.
It’s exciting right now because our consciousness around sustainability is really growing. I love that I can buy recycled metal from suppliers that are committed to using as much reclaimed material as possible, as well as working to eliminate toxic chemicals and solvents from their production, and striving to be as energy efficient as possible. In my studio, you’ll find my Little Smith torch, Garland hammers, and Foredom polishing lathe, all manufactured in the US. I want to make beautiful objects that honor the purpose and history of jewelry. By reminding myself to slow down and focus on quality over quantity, and by supporting local and American businesses that also embrace “green” practices, I hope that I’m helping to keep the handmade culture and the environment thriving.
Visit https://raegenknight.com/ to shop Raegen’s jewelry.