Dopedoll Chronicles: Haley Holeman

indian bug necklace
Haley Holeman

By Vanessa Haim

Scorpions, orange beetles, spiny spiders & stink bug carcases, all encased in glow-in-the-dark resin with details of opal and sterling silver bullets – these are the handcrafted works of South Florida based jewelry designer, Haley Holeman.

Drawing inspiration from a macabre aesthetic and South Western Indian culture, Haley’s intricate and compelling designs are a labor of love that create one of a kind wearable art.

“Unusual sterling silver jewelry handcrafted for the discerning customer.”

I had the opportunity to chat with Haley on her bugged out works, new designs and what her ideal summer South Florida day would be like, check out this dopedoll’s interview!

You hand-make your pieces, literally from scratch. Tell me a little about the process.

The sterling silver jewelry I produce, is a labor of love, which has been a lifetime in the making. Drawers brimming with insect exoskeletons, various collected bones, and African necklaces made of cockroach wings in my mom’s at-home jewelry studio are an early memory. It was here that I perfected a distinctive and often macabre aesthetic, while learning the value of craftsmanship.

My work is a marriage of hand fabrication and casting. The cast components are carved in wax or are from a mold made of a found item. An example is the silver bullet border which frequently encompasses my bezels, and was taken from a toy ammunition belt. Each bezel is meticulously hand formed in sheet silver.

The casting is done in my backyard using centrifugal force. Sourcing unusual and appealing insects encased in glow-in-the-dark lucite is always a fun process. I’d like to experiment with even edgier arachnids in the future.

Bugs creep me out, but you turn them into beautiful wearable pieces of art. What’s behind the bug theme?

Insects elicit a visceral reaction. They are impossible to ignore, out numbering humans 200 million to one. They have always been a staple in jewelry; from Egypt as a symbol of everlasting life, to modern day Mexico’s maquech brooches, where living beetles are adorned with small gems and fastened to the shirt with a light chain and pin.

They are revered for their amazing beauty, but also for the repulsion they generate. They present an example of the appealing and evocative duality of nature’s most beautiful creations.

madonna dino bone necklace
Madonna Saint Necklace

You posted on your Instagram a new Madonna Saint necklace, new collection?

Most likely. In a way, I’ve always been drawn to Catholic art, and its saints. My favorite books and films often draw on Catholic themes. The dinosaur bone, Madonna, and sterling silver bullet piece is a variation on an evolving theme.

I liked the juxtaposition of a spiritual feminine image with the material and masculine symbol of bullets and artillery. It can be seen as a reminder of the double edged nature of religion, while also offering a rich example of the beauty that has come from it.

Where can we find your jewelry?

I’m very pleased that Haley Holeman Jewelry is now being carried at Alessandra Gold Concept Store in Wynwood, on North Miami Ave. There you can find my glow-in-the-dark insect pieces alongside innovative clothing crafted from recycled and unexpected materials, like ship sails and bottle caps.

Men’s brogues made from hand-painted canvas, quirky sunglasses and the store’s own line of bad-ass sneakers are among the boutique’s other jewels. You’ll find numerous edgy, emerging and eclectic designers from wall to wall, and it is surely the place to stop if you’d like your finger on the pulse of Miami fashion.

You’re local, what’s your ideal summer South Florida day like?

My ideal summer day wouldn’t start until 3:00 pm, conveniently dodging the heat, after a full night of creation in my studio. Fort Lauderdale favorites Stork’s Bakery or Lester’s Diner are always excellent afternoon dining decisions, which I would share with my boyfriend, Rick Fantasies of Miami bands 90’s Teen and This Heart Electric.

We’d work our way south, maybe going kayaking at John Lloyd State Park and then catch a cult film at Miami Beach Cinematheque once the sun sets. The cherry on the evening would be a trip to the piano bar, Magnum Lounge, for a bloody mary under their tiki hut.