The story of Wheat Stalk Boutique begins on a wheat farm in Pendleton, Ore., and converges at the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market in a booth filled with handcrafted, brass jewelry featuring polished gems, crystals and metal patina.
Erica Harris, owner and artist, exudes a relaxed confidence. From the moment one enters her market boutique, a warm atmosphere is emanated that prompts market guests to touch and tangibly explore the assortment of displayed pieces.
Timeless, approachable, affordable: These are the words Harris chooses to categorize her wearable art.
“I wanted my pieces to be obtainable,” Harris says. “They’re designed to be noticeable, yet pure. Easy to wear with anything you have going on that day.
“I feel like the geometric shapes, in particular, bring a certain cleanliness.”
Harris is a master curator. A jewelry maker for more than 30 years, her pieces feature components collected over decades, in synergy with more modern elements.
She points to a distinct evolution in her style as an artist.
“I’ve spent a lot of time sourcing,” she says. “Over time, I’ve begun to streamline things. I’ve honed in on what I really love to create.”
With a keen eye for texture, Harris brings together the materials she finds most visually striking.
“The shine from the crystals combined with the texture of the metal is very interesting to me,” Harris says. “I also love to combine different tones of metal.”
Harris applies a natural chemical reaction to the surface of some of her raw brass pieces, resulting in a natural patina with brilliant tones of turquoise, greens, and browns.
“That moment when someone puts a piece of my jewelry on and has that sense of owning something new and beautiful,” Harris says.
“The combination of seeing their joy and seeing my piece on somebody, that’s when it all comes together for me. I just can’t even believe it. Seriously, I almost squeal sometimes, I get so excited.”
Harris adds, “The farmers market brings us all together. Farmers and artisans, locally together in one spot where the community can all gather. It also draws the tourists to see what we have going on around here. To enjoy the fruits of our labor … literally!”
Being surrounded by farmers is in Harris’ blood. The decor of her market booth and her company points to her agrarian roots.
Harris comes from wheat farmers. Growing up a self-proclaimed tomboy, Harris watched as her father and grandfather tended to the land and provided a livelihood for the family.
“I learned to drive sitting on my grandpa or dad’s lap steering the wheat truck. As soon as I could reach the pedals, they had me driving,” Harris says.
“My dad would be in the combine harvesting the wheat, he would dump it into my wheat truck, and then I would drive the truck to the grain elevator.”
A love for farming, jewelry, and community all converge for Harris at the farmers market.
Harris recently celebrated the momentous milestone of giving notice to her much-loved day job to tend to Wheat Stalk Boutique as a full-time artist.
“My goal was always to work for myself,” says the farmer-turned-artisan. “Like my dad did, like my grandpa.”
“The Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market certainly propelled me into that, knowing that I have a home through October, I mean that’s a big part of it.”
Guests can follow along on Harris’ journey by connecting with her on Instagram, @wheatstalkboutique, and can visit Wheat Stalk Boutique at the Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. each Saturday through October.
Visit your community market at Sequim City Hall Plaza at North Sequim Avenue and West Cedar Street, and at Centennial Place at the Sequim Avenue and Washington Street intersection.
Want more market updates? Be sure to tune in every Friday at 4 p.m. to KSQM 91.5 FM for the live radio “Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market Hour.”
Emma Jane “EJ” Garcia is the Market Manager for the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market.