In Their Element: Kristen Shearon

I'm so excited to finally share the second installment of the "In Their Element" series I've been working on to feature artists and the spaces they create in.  If you didn't catch my first installment of this series back in January, you can view it here

Today I'm sharing photos of the workspace of Kristen Shearon of Havok Designs.  My husband and I first saw her work at one of the Vintage Charlotte pop-up markets a few years ago.  Since then, we have purchased a few of her pieces and I really love her style and how unique her designs are, so I am so excited to be able to include her in this series!  Without further adieu, I'll let Kristen introduce Havok Designs and her studio: 

Tell me a little bit about Havok Designs!

Havok Designs specializes in laser cut wooden jewelry, cork wallets, home décor and custom work. Havok happens in the space between the before and after. It's the process, the metamorphosis from something raw to something refined. At Havok, we believe there to be a strong connection between humans and wood: that it’s a part of our history and our foundation as people. Our ancestors built houses, bridges, furniture and tools out of it. Our products represent this innate connection and maintain the relationship between the two.

How did Havok Designs come to be?  Were you first drawn to wood as a medium or jewelry and fashion accessories as the product, or did they always go hand-in-hand to you? 

I had recently graduated from college with my art & design degree and knew that I wanted to start a company and work for myself. My husband's hobby was CNC woodworking at the time, which wasn't always congruent with the harsh winters of Montana, where we were living at the time. So we decided to purchase a laser engraving machine which could be used indoors. Once we started working with it, we quickly decided that wood was the preferred material choice, and the designs started to flow at a rushing pace. I was quickly surprised at how many of my initial designs were jewelry and accessory items as that type of design was something that I had never done before. But it just seemed to make sense, and since it all came organically, we just went with it!

Not a lot of people are familiar with the process of making laser cut pieces. What is that process in a nutshell, because I know after visiting your studio that it is so much more involved than it looks!    

It’s a lot of technical stuff mixed with graphic design stuff. But the first step is to create a design and then digitally convert that design using computer software to best communicate with the laser engraver. Once the design is converted and sent over the laser software, you input the correct settings to tell the laser to either engrave or cut for each layer, line, or shape, insert your material and line it up properly inside the machine, and press go. The laser uses that information to engrave and cut out your design from your preferred material. And that’s it!

You said one of your most popular pieces is the origami cranes.  What was the inspiration behind those?     

My husband and I had watched a really great documentary on origami and the art of paper folding, and one of the people being interviewed said something that really stuck with me. He said that when you fold a piece of paper, you in effect change the memory of the paper itself. I couldn’t get that whole idea out of my head and I started drawing origami cranes in various parts of flight over and over. We had just gotten the laser engraving machine so they ended up  being the very first things that we ever designed and cut out for Havok Designs. And though the size and quality of the cranes we make now are way above what the first set was, we still like to keep it on our fridge as a reminder of our very humble beginnings as a company.

What do you love the most about your studio space and how have you made it an inspiring place to create in?    

My main goal when creating this space was to maximize organization. The last studio spaces consisted of makeshift furniture we built out of leftover lumber from a barn when we were living in Montana and there was absolutely zero storage! The wood, shipping materials, and packaging were everywhere making it a really distracting place to work. So when moving into this new space, I wanted it to be clean and uncluttered so that work would come more easily without a bunch of interference around. It’s also a small space so functionality was at the forefront of my mind as well when designing this space. So I chose IKEA pieces that work well together, provide maximum storage, and can be hidden within each other. The cabinets are on wheels, can work as extra work tables, and also can slide underneath my larger, longer desks and workstations when not being used. They also hold all of the wood, acrylic, card stock, and inventory within their drawers so everything has a home keeping the clutter to a minimum. Another thing that I love is that everything is white and it’s easy to add pops of color with artwork, plants, and our wall hanging designs. I’m constantly moving things around on my walls on a whim to freshen up the space when my mind needs it to happen.

I love that your work is so versatile, that it’s not just restricted to jewelry but also functional pieces like bags, clutches, iPad sleeves, and home accessories. What are some new designs + ideas you have in mind for future products?  

We are really on a home decor kick right now and are also loving layering various natural materials together. So for instance, we’re doing more layering of the cork fabric with wood to create jewelry pieces with cork fringe hanging from wood pieces and handbags with wood handles and cork fabric bodies. Along with that, we are also doing some layering with smaller pieces like quartz crystals, black tourmaline, and other stones adhered to the tops of wood rings for a really unique statement. Since we use all natural materials, we are always looking for ways to highlight their innate beauty which continues to allow each piece to be distinctive in its colors, grain, and characteristics. The main goal is to continue to create functional, beautiful products that stand out from the crowd and look beautiful on you or in your home.   

To keep up with Kristen and her projects (and to see when Havok Designs is doing pop-up shops!), you can follow her on instagram: @havokdesigns 

Honour's First Year

Because Honour just turned one a few weeks ago, I thought it would be fun to write (read: ramble) about some of the different ways we've documented her first year.  

I don't have a ton of photos from my childhood.  They all fit into a single photo album and one scrapbook that I started making in middle school.  My parents used film cameras throughout my childhood until high school when they upgraded to their first digital camera.  Using film cameras meant that there was a cost to each photo, so the camera was usually brought out for momentous occasions like Christmas, the first day of school, birthdays, vacations, etc.  The camera was also sometimes brought out at completely random times when one needed to take just a photo or two to finish off the roll of film to get it developed.  Because I have a somewhat limited amount of childhood photos, they're all very special to me and I enjoy looking through them.

Now that we live in the golden age of digital photography, it has never been easier to document not only momentous occasions, but our everyday lives -- which is great!  But I realized that it can also be overwhelming, because we can easily accumulate "too many" photos, more than we know what to do with.  I realized that if I were to take a photo of Honour every day, that would be 365 photos a year, which is more photos in one year than I probably have from my entire childhood.  I decided to be a little more selective of the photos I took of Honour so that I didn't wind up with a ton of photos that virtually look the same; I wanted to avoid duplicates.  I was really inspired by how photographer Max Wanger photographed his son's first year (which you can view here) and I loved how each photo is composed just a little bit differently, and the light and color seem to vary from photo to photo, and his son never seems to be posed in the same way.  I tried to keep that collection of photos in mind while taking photos of Honour this past year.  Does this mean that every single photo I ever took of Honour was a perfectly composed work of art?  Heck no!  Some of them were not even great photos at all, but they captured a moment in time that was important to me that I wanted to keep forever, which is the real magic of photography.  But for the majority of my photos, I did challenge myself to be creative, to try to make each photo stand out on its own and to be meaningful to me in some way.  Here are some of my favorite photos that I took of Honour this past year: 

Another way we ended up documenting Honour's first year turned out to be really fun.  During the newborn stage I found myself obsessively taking photos of Honour when she was sleeping because she just looked so incredibly cute and I could not handle it.  Honour would sleep anywhere.  I loved how she would get all snuggled up and how her arms would go limp, and sometimes her mouth would hang open.  I could go on and on.  Once I realized that I had started a trend of taking tons of photos of Honour sleeping (some friends would even joke about how we hardly ever took any photos of her awake for the longest time), I decided to make a hashtag for all of those photos (#sleepyhonour).  Creating a hashtag for this series was also partially inspired by a graphic designer I follow on instagram who started a series of beautiful photos of her daughter, Jane, playing in their tub (#janeinthetub).  Some of her photos would just show Jane's messy bath hair peeking out above the edge of the tub, or a rubber ducky perched on top of her head, or her feet resting on the edge of the tub.  I loved that you could watch her daughter grow up throughout a series of photos like that, so after taking probably fifteen or so photos of Honour sleeping, I finally decided to give them a hashtag to keep track of them over time.  Here are some of my favorites from this past year, and they are organized by age.  I'm also especially happy that I took so many of these photos because holding Honour while she slept has been one of my favorite parts of parenthood so far, and now that she is always on the move, these moments are fewer and farther between. 

I know!  You thought I was done with this post and I'm STILL writing!  I told you I would be rambling, but I promise you're almost to the finish line.  The last thing I wanted to mention is that I was somewhat disappointed with how few photos I took of Honour with my DSLR this year.  I took so many iPhone photos, which is great because my iPhone is actually a far better camera than my parents ever had when I was growing up, but I really wish I had taken my DSLR out more often.  It just felt like a hassle sometimes to take it out and then need to edit the photos later.  I want to be more intentional about taking my DSLR out for personal photos from here on out, but I'm not beating myself up about not taking it out more this past year because we actually have a few friends that are professional photographers that photographed Honour a few times throughout her first year.  I'm so thankful for all of the photos they took because they are truly stunning and they captured our family in a way that I couldn't have captured myself.

Here are a few photos that my friend Catherine took in the hospital the day after Honour was born:

Almost three weeks after Honour was born, my friend Ariana came over to our house to do our first ever family session.  

Then when Honour was six months old and Christmas was right around the corner, we decided to get some fun Christmas family photos taken at Goldmine's Very Merry Christmas Sessions by our friend Christina.   

And then our friend Justin took photos at Honour's first birthday party - and I'm so thankful he did because I didn't take a single photo at her party! 

If you actually read this post all the way through, high five!  I hope that it was a fun read and maybe even inspires you to take more photos of your family and friends!  

Justin + Torre

Last month I photographed a beautiful wedding for my dear friends, Justin + Torre, whom you will probably recognize from the engagement photos I posted.  The weather forecast predicted rain for the entire day of their wedding, so the night before their wedding and the morning of, I was frantically searching every Target in Charlotte for clear umbrellas to use for their photos.  Everyone had been praying all week that it wouldn't rain for their wedding, and the forecast suddenly changed the day of their wedding and it stopped raining by late morning just in time to have the most perfect weather for their outdoor ceremony. 

Justin is an incredibly talented photographer as well, so I was so honored that he and Torre trusted me to document such a special day in their lives.  I usually try to keep my blog posts short and concise, but I couldn't narrow down these photos any further because I have so many favorite moments and images from this wedding.  Justin + Torre had one of the largest wedding parties I have photographed, and it was so apparent throughout their wedding weekend that each and every one of those groomsmen and bridesmaids have played a huge role in their lives.  Torre wanted a first look with her dad, which I tried very hard not to cry during so that I could get photos without my hands shaking.  I did, however, cry like a baby during the father-daughter dance, as usual.  I could go on and on, but I'll just let all of these images speak for themselves.  Congratulations Justin + Torre! 

Justin + Torre

I could probably write way too long of a blog post about how much my little family loves Justin + Torre!  They're incredibly kind people and are so intentional about their lives + relationships, which I admire them so much for.  They got engaged at the end of January and are getting married two weeks from today!  I wanted to take some engagement photos at their new house, which they are still in the process of decorating and putting together.  I love that these photos look so relaxed and casual, but that they also create a little time capsule of this stage where they are beginning to build their lives together.