D EMS IOGLNEECR U L E S
B Y NATALIE ZEE DRIEU
Biophysicist and jewelry designer Raven Hanna brings
a scientific twist to crafts.
When it comes to science, San Francisco-based Raven Hanna knows what she’s
talking about. With a Ph.D. in molecular
biophysics from Yale and post-doctorate work at
U.C. Berkeley, the always-creative Hanna realized
she didn’t want to follow the typical scientist’s
path. After all, she used to make stuffed bacteria
in grad school.
While researching neurotransmitters, Hanna
found her jewelry calling. The serotonin molecule
in a textbook illustration caught her eye and she
wanted a necklace to represent it. After searching
online, she realized they weren’t sold anywhere,
so she decided to make one herself.
The problem was, Hanna didn’t actually know
how to make jewelry. But thanks to the internet,
she found a jewelry teacher on Craigslist to help
her. “I showed him a drawing of the molecule
attached to the chains and said, ‘Teach me how
to make this!’” she laughs.
In no time, Hanna’s crafty hobby of making
molecule jewelry became her number one passion
and took most of her free time. When wearing her
jewelry around town, she noticed that people who
weren’t scientists were intrigued by it. “What I was
looking for, this ‘visual science communication,’ is
right here in this hobby, and that’s when I decided
it would be neat to get it out there,” she says.
Through the encouragement of friends, she made
her hobby into a business, and Made with Molecules
madewithmolecules.com) was born. “Made with
Molecules is like ‘made with love’ but always
accurate! Scientifically accurate!” exclaims Hanna.
From the stunning endorphin necklace to the
delicate chocolate theobromine earrings, Hanna’s
jewelry is unique in the sense that she can showcase the beauty of it all first, letting the science
sink in visually. “If the molecule isn’t aesthetic,
I’m not going to do it,” Hanna explains.
To create her pieces, Hanna first finds a beautiful
molecule and strips the design down to the basics
so that it’s graphically appealing. The finished CAD
file is then sent to someone who prints it on a 3D
laser printer in resin. Finally, the resin pieces are
cast in silver and Hanna solders them together.
It wasn’t long before CERN, the world’s largest
particle physics lab in Geneva, Switzerland, started
knocking on her door. For two months in the spring
of 2006, Hanna worked at CERN, along with their
particle physicists, to make designs of subatomic
particles. “It was the best job ever! Where do I go
from here?” jokes Hanna. Inspired by the experience, today Hanna looks to diversify her work by
exploring more in the particle physics realm, as
well as going “bigger,” into neurons and cells.
“Scientists devote their lives to what they study,”
explains Hanna. “They want some sort of beautiful
thing to represent that to the world.” Thanks to
Raven Hanna, now they’ve got it. ×
Natalie Zee Drieu is senior editor of CRAF T and writes for the
CRAFT blog at
Photograph by Gabriela Hasbun