Sam Kramer, born in Pittsburgh in 1913, studied jewelry design in high school and college. In 1936 he moved to Greenwich Village in New York City, the center of bohemian and artistic culture. There, he opened a workshop and gallery to sell his surrealistic jewelry advertised as “fantastic jewelry for people who are slightly mad.” Among many things he used glass eyes from stuffed animals, saying, “Every conceivable material, often not associated with jewelry, can be used. Each material will provoke a certain feeling, and at the same time suggest a multitude of intriguing design possibilities.”
When I worked in New York City, I frequently visited Greenwich Village, but I never visited Kramer’s workshop, which was up a steep flight of stairs. In 1964 I read his obituary in The New York Times, which said that “Mr. Kramer was an ex- pert at making jewelry out of taxidermists’ glass eyes,” and later, “His wife, Carol Enners Kramer, is expected to carry on his work.” Reading that, it occurred to me that she might appreciate the challenge of making a button from a glass eye. So I trudged up the steep stairs to his studio and ordered a button, pictured here.
I was assured that mine was the only such button ever made.
by Ann Wilson