This is a special one for us - Hannah Ferrara is the founder and designer of Another Feather, a jewelry collection designed, handcrafted, and ethically produced in Portland, OR. She is also a dear friend and collaborator. We have been lucky enough to feature several AF pieces in our lookbooks and editorials over the years. Her pieces have a timeless quality about them - refined yet accessible for the everyday, subtle in their details yet exquisitely intimate in their forms and variations.
We visited Hannah in her warm, bright studio for an afternoon in conversation and image making - the photographs from that visit are shared here, as are Hannah's answers to the questions from our ongoing Journal series.
How does choosing your bag for the day and its contents tie into your daily ritual?
I walk most everywhere often, so when I leave for the day I bring everything I need in a bag, most typically this is usually a sizable leather tote bag that rests comfortably on the shoulder and can hold essentials for the day. If I'm going out to dinner or to meet a friend then I usually choose a fun small bag. Always in my bags - lip balm, sunglasses or glasses, a book, hand cream, small notepad, my airpods, and a silk neck scarf.
What are the non-functional/meaningful things that you carry with you on a daily basis? (mementos, good luck charms, personal affects, etc.)
I usually have an old film photo of my grandmother tucked in a book as a marker, a nice reminder that she's with me always, even in the simple moments. You can usually find some sort of random nature bits in there too - whether it's a stone, shells found on the coast, or a forgotten (dried up) flower plucked on my walk home.
What expressive function does your bag have for you?
My 'everyday' bag needs to be practical, but also classic and polished and well made, so that it can move between schlepping things to the studio, and meeting friends for dinner right after. I am all about never sacrificing aesthetics for practicality, but I definitely have a few 'less practical' beautiful vintage bags that serve as nice sculptural objects to carry.
How does your bag (read: shape, features, size, material, etc.) inform the way you carry yourself, the activities you choose to do, the way you engage with your surroundings?
If I'm traveling, I usually choose a bag that can be worn crossbody for ease and with a closure (the FEHN bag is my go to!). I love both soft and structured materials - due to my background in both textiles and metals i suppose, the best bags have both of these characteristics in my opinion. Bags that can be worn around the wrist, on shoulder, or across the body are best for me as opposed to something with impractical handles. Those carry awkwardly, and I always seem to put them down somewhere random in a public place, which of course is not ideal.
Choosing a bag can be an act of expansion or a pairing down to essentials. Which one of these do you gravitate toward (and why)? When thinking about this, do notions about security/agency/independence come to mind? If so, how?
It used to be expansion but now for me it's about pairing down to the essentials. My mother always only carried big bags and they were full of everything but you could never find anything you actually needed in there. Something like a Mary Poppins bag that lost its way haha. I think originally I did this too, just filling my bag with anything I might possibly need or want, collecting things and throwing them in there, but I realized I really don't function best when I'm digging around in a bag and can't find what I need - so now I keep it to the essentials for the most part and leave plenty of space for anything extra I might pick up throughout the day. This is probably pretty reflective of how I organize my mind and consciousness now too.
What shapes, features, materials, textures, and/or functions are inspiring your creative process currently?
I'm currently back on a twisty organic rope kick, have been there for a while and revisited it over the years. I think something symbolic about being 'tied' to things this past year brought it back to me in a new representational way. I'm also thinking more deeply about putting less out there, and less frequently. Currently obsessing over antique snuff bottle collections, ocean foam, and Oregon sunstone.
We have often featured AF pieces in our lookbooks and editorials and it has always felt like such a natural, organic partnership. What is the relationship between jewelry and accessories, and what are the qualities you look for when pairing them?
I think our design ethos are so similar, and that translates into such a perfect match. I think a focus on timeless, wearable pieces carries over here. However even though I stand by things having a purpose, I do believe in beauty for beauty's sake, even when at times this trumps practicality or minimalism.
Your focus on using only ethically sourced/recycled materials and low-impact, non-toxic production processes is noteworthy. What is the ethos behind these choices and how do these considerations affect your designs?
When I was in college I started out with a double major in both art and sustainable development. I battled with these two parallel worlds - one focused on putting more beauty and art into the world and one was trying to put in check why we were putting more into the world in the first place (and how to prevent that). Art won over in the end, but I took into my practice that awareness of the state of our earth and our natural resources. When I first began my own studio I decided from the beginning that we wanted to use as low impact practices as possible, and work with those who were willing to commit to doing the same. There's still loads of progress to make, and our industry is a tricky one to do it in, but even small choices like not using harsh chemicals in our studio, recycling all metals, and choosing compostable packaging are effective in the ongoing journey.
You’re based in Portland, OR, opting to live and grow your business outside the coastal fashion capitals of LA and NY. What are your favorite things about your community, about living and working in the PNW?
The clean air and space (both physically and metaphysically), nature is such an important aspect to me, and having constant access to it keeps me grounded. I love big cities, and am in them often for both work and pleasure, the energy found there is unmatched, but when I'm truthful with myself - what I really need is the option to opt out of that and distance myself when need be. I've always preferred to live in smaller cities located close by to some form of rugged nature, where I spend the majority of my time. Here I recharge, disconnect, walk in the woods, swim, wander, -----and for me personally, I need the option to be able to hike a mountain in the morning before going into the studio, or wrap up work early and drive out to the river to swim, spend my day off at the coast, those things are my lifeblood, and here I'm spoiled by being able to have those aspects be a part of my weekly routine. Portland has such a wonderful creative community, and there is so much value for craft and things made with care and the story telling behind that, I think there's something to note about the lifestyle of having a home base here that lives in tangent with those aspects in many ways.
Share an image, a taste, and a sound that are on your mind.
Image - breakfast scene in La Piscine, the first film I've seen in theatre in a year and a half, and always a favorite - dreaming of an Italian summer. Taste - salt, i just polished off a bowl of olives. Sound - breeze rustling through my fig tree. I'm working from home today on my porch (the least painful way to spend a day tied to your laptop).
All clothes are from Hannah's personal wardrobe.
She wears her well worn-in Cortina bag in Dust.
Photographs by Jane Dylan Cody.