Laser + Handcraft = Awesome Earrings

by admin

Laser + Handcraft = Awesome Earrings

I don’t think I’ve ever worn a pair of Molly M. Designs’ earrings without receiving a compliment.

The cashier at the bus terminal, the young woman who sold me my phone at CompUSA, my coworkers—even men tell me they like my earrings.

Lucky for me, Molly McGrath is a good friend of mine, so her earrings have been accessorizing my outfits since she started making them, about two years ago.

Although she has a full time job as an architect in Oakland, Molly was able to put together her first line of earrings—geometric circles and lines cut from birch veneer and acrylic—during her spare time (meaning she pulls about one all-nighter a week.)

Looking to natural and urban landscapes for inspiration, Molly first sketches her earrings on paper and then drafts them on the computer. The computer sends the image to a laser cuter, which, with a small shock of blue light, etches and cuts to make intricate, clean lines. She learned her laser cutting skills while an architecture graduate student at UC Berkeley, and eventually bought her own machine.

As her business grew from a hobby into a full-fledgling company, Molly came out with her second line, made with a sustainable approach. The earrings and pendants are cut from bamboo veneer, a rapidly renewable wood source. Wool and felt, gathered from army surplus stores, and suede, cut from second-hand jackets, accessorizes the bamboo. Designs and colors are inspired by the changing of seasons in the Bay Area and from her mom’s garden in Napa. The result is a unique piece of jewelry with images you’re not likely to see elsewhere—soft toned gingko leaves and trees branches set against a fall sky.

A few weeks ago, I helped Molly sell her goods at a design fair in San Francisco. Despite having over one hundred vendors at the show, Molly’s booth seemed to be the only one consistently packed. Women stood around modeling and squealing; laser cutter aficionados’ (yes, they do exist) nodded their heads with appreciation. As the stock diminished, I worried there might be a throw down over the last pair of cattail and suede earrings.

What makes her jewelry so universally appealing? Perhaps it is the color schemes—natural tones that match most outfits or acrylic that looks great set against black. Or perhaps it is the clean lines that come from a laser precision cutting. Whatever it is, I’m always happy to receive a pair of her latest and greatest creations as a gift—and I’m sure everyone on your list will be too.

The only drawback to giving them as a gift: you’ll have a hard time resisting a pair for yourself. 

Photo courtesy of the author