Inside EAA’s Kermit Weeks Hangar in Oshkosh lives a piece of EAA history.
“The B-25 is really well-known in the World War II era, whether it’s the famous Doolittle Raid or the movie Catch 22. Our specific B-25, Berlin Express, was used as stateside trainer during World War II,” said Sara Weber, EAA’s retail purchasing manager.
It was during her own training, upon being hired earlier in the year, that Sara got her first peek at the famous bomber and the other magnificent aircraft that are housed in the Weeks hangar.
“As we were going through the tour, they started talking about pieces of metal aircraft skin that they had from doing the restoration, and immediately I was like ‘Oh my gosh! We have actual pieces of this historic airplane we can work with?’”
That’s when the wheels started to turn. Sara called up a friend of hers who happens to be a third-generation jewelry maker. Misty Nagen is the owner and designer of SilverWear by Misty and creates wearable art using vintage silverware. Now, she was being challenged to master her craft using a material she’s never worked with before: the skin of the B-25. But this project had no room for trial and error.
“I had to make sure I had the absolute right person,” Sara said. “I had to be able to trust them and know that they were going to be able to execute the vision seamlessly on the first try, because we didn’t have a lot of scraps to work with.”
Misty called it an honor to be chosen for such a special project. “To be a part of making history something you can wear and cherish is amazing.”
After weeks of planning and coming up with ideas for the design, Misty was ready to take their vision and bring those historic pieces back to life.
“We decided on two different designs for the necklaces and two different designs of earrings after I worked with it a little bit,” she said.
The jewelry designs didn’t take anything away from the panels themselves, either.
“We wanted a piece that was unisex and we wanted it to be simple, yet still shows the unique properties of the aircraft skin,” Sara explained. “The pieces we chose to focus on for one of the designs had all the rivets in it.”
There are only 24 pieces of each design, making them truly one-of-a-kind, limited editions.
“It’s just such a unique opportunity for anyone to own a piece of EAA’s own aircraft,” said Sara. “Whoever purchases this is going to have a little piece of history that I don’t think we will ever replicate. I couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out.”
The feeling is mutual for Misty, who recently got to see the B-25 Berlin Express in person for the first time. “Just to see it in real life, it really made the whole process come together and make it be real.”
See the limited collection of B-25 jewelry pieces that are available at EAA.org/Shop.