Green Bean Brand Jewelery – COOL HUNTING®

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A modest, blue-toned apartment in Ridgewood, Queens that currently serves as a studio for the whimsical independent jewelry brand green bean. Inside the living room-turned-workspace, founder Kelsey Armstrong pairs vintage Monopoly pieces, miniature cutlery and other found objects with her signature picto-charms — tiny photos turned into glass pendants that Armstrong makes in the hand. Owned, operated and crafted almost entirely by the founder (with the exception of an occasional assistant), Haricot Vert’s DIY spirit translates the art of collage into playful, mixed-media jewelry.

Courtesy of Green Bean

Browsing through the brand’s collection is like leafing through an album. In one piece, a sardine plate charm dangles above a baguette, evoking European escapades. In other works, a checkered tablecloth sits alongside half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a picnic roll reminiscent of the film. Throughout each piece’s assemblage of visuals and charms, a dreamy childlike wonder for the world emerges, making Green Bean as endearing as it is detailed. Naming the brand, Armstrong says, “One day I saw green beans (which means green beans in French) on a menu, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, how cool would it be to create a universe of green beans ? ‘”

Courtesy of Green Bean

The foundations of the studio began when Armstrong took a course in mixed media and collage in college, where she became fascinated with Robert Rauschenberg and the medium’s accessible form. “It’s cool that you can stick an eyeball on an old photo of something and it just transforms the image,” she tells us. A few years later, this fascination continued as Armstrong moved from France to New York and decided to begin experimenting with collage as a form of jewelry making.

Courtesy of Green Bean

After some trial and error, she released her first collection of dangling earrings. She recalls: “Over time, one thing led to another, and then every time I released stuff, it sold out faster and faster. Eventually I was like, ‘Who am I kidding? I have to quit my job.'”

Courtesy of Green Bean

Six months after Armstrong went full-time, and many out-of-print collections later, the founder continues to recreate her process. The first steps, however, always remain the same. She tells us: “Generally, I work thematically. I take themes that have inspired me, then from there I go into the process of finding sourcing images. Many come from the designer’s vintage book collection as well as her personal photo archive of nearly 50,000 images.

“I think my jewelry is poetic because each creation tells a story of my life. It’s very intimate and personal in a way,” she says. The Not in Paris collection is an example of this, including picto- charms made from images from her camera roll taken when she was living in France.

Courtesy of Green Bean

After choosing a theme and collecting images, Armstrong scans the photos into his computer to print them on polymer plastic, a material similar to shrink plastic. Once the scans are printed, Armstrong cuts them using a smart cutting machine. “It’s like a machine that moms use for scrapbooking,” she says. “It’s awesome. I used to cut everything by hand, and my assistant in early summer would come in for a day and literally cut charms and charms and charms.

by Kelly Paul

Once everything is the right size, Armstrong must bake the plastic cutouts, a sensitive and temperamental process that reacts differently depending on room temperature and humidity. Depending on the weather, Armstrong will experiment with different ovens, from regular convection to vintage Shrinky Dink ovens. “There are so many details about everything to make a perfect charm. For them to come out correctly, you have to have the right temperature and monitor the temperature and the thermodynamics. I would say that 30% of the charms do not come out”, explains- she.

Courtesy of Green Bean

For those that don’t meet Green Bean quality standards, Armstrong saves them to donate or donate. In fact, nearly all of their waste is reused, a practice that stems from Armstrong’s commitment to eco-responsibility. From leftover cut-out materials to vintage swan-shaped jewelry boxes, Armstrong tries to reuse everything. Aside from the hardware and charms she makes, she tells us, “Everything so far is vintage. Every stone, every pendant, everything is fully sourced. I keep buying trips to Rhode Island, where there’s this famous giant vintage warehouse of deadstock and wholesale.

Courtesy of Green Bean

When the picto-charms bake properly, Armstrong can begin the puzzle part of his process of putting everything together to see which vintage charms and pendants match each other to create the right collage-like earring. Then each charm is enamelled, a messy and often tedious process because the charms are so small to work with. Once done, they can be drilled to be attached to hooks.

Courtesy of Green Bean

Currently, Armstrong is preparing an upcoming collection of earrings and necklaces made in collaboration with The sage vintage (out today August 31) as well as a selection of handbags.

Courtesy of Green Bean

Without taking itself too seriously, Haricot Vert extends collage to the field of jewelry. Born out of a dedication to the painstaking process of crafting trinkets, the studio continues to evolve with Armstrong’s process. With many other collections and iterations already in the works, the Haricot Vert universe remains always jubilant and romantic.

Hero image courtesy of Haricot Vert

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