I'm thrilled to be sharing stories of inspiration here on l.i.d and am excited to introduce you to Melaine!
Melanie and I connected last year and have had some great conversations about life in general and sharing common appreciate for family life and creative freedom. Her jewelry is beautiful, and is all design and hand made in her home studio! Her story touched me and I hope it does you too!
What part of the world do you live in? Alabama (southeast US)
How long have you been a jewelry maker? I've been making jewelry, semi-professionally, for about 5 years. Silversmith for 3.
Tell the readers a bit about what your creative life consists of. Well, I am 31yrs old, married to my best friend of 12yrs, we have a gorgeous American Bulldog named Lily & just moved into an adorable old brick house. Dream come true for this southern girl! By day I am the full time caregiver for my Mom, who's been quadriplegic since 2004 & just last year had to be put onto a ventilator. By night I am an aspiring silversmith/jewelry designer. I make simple, feminine, everyday jewelry that is mostly hypoallergenic (lots of sensitive skin in my family) and I sell it in my ETSY shop. I like to make all aspects of my pieces by hand, save for the chain & clasps and recycle all excess silver into other pieces. All of my jewelry is made, photographed, packaged & shipped by me in my little home studio and I wouldn't have it any other way!
What is your favourite part of your art-form? I absolutely love taking raw metal & cutting it, bending it, heating it, hammering it, filing it, fusing & soldering it and creating something actually wearable...with my own 2 hands! I want to make pieces I want to wear, that you'll want to wear. Something that will last a lifetime. Something that may mean something to you & bring joy into your life as it did for me while making it. The fact that I can & do do that, blows my mind! Truly incredible!
What is the most challenging part of your work? The detail work can get a little daunting, the precise filing can be somewhat tedious...(and is rough in the fingernails! no pretty painted manicures for this girl) but the most challenging thing, I think, can be overcoming creative block. Maybe that's the toughest challenge for any creator...
What was the last thing that you created/designed that you absolutely loved? Honestly, my most recent pieces. Full moon pendant necklace & earrings. I am simply enamored with them! Maybe it's because it's a design I've had in mind for a while that I've finally brought to frution, maybe it's because I am in awe of all things space, maybe they're just that awesome... I sketched the idea months ago, played with different sizes & tried making the pendants a few different ways, but this final product I could wear everyday! And have since I made them!! (total perk of making things I like...I get to wear the prototypes)
When did you begin to realize that you had a talent or a wanting to be a jewelry designer? Growing up I was pretty crafty. Always sketching, painting, stringing seed beads onto Dad's fishing line or knotting embroidery floss into friendship bracelets. It was only after I had been taking care of Mom for a couple years that I realized I could turn my craft into a viable business & possibly help support myself and family while satisfying my need for a creative outlet.
Do you have formal training? Nope. Aside from the highschool art classes, I taught myself everything I know through research, trial & error and the odd youtube video. I would like to take a metalsmith class though.
Is this your full-time gig? Yes it is. As full time as possible & still allow me time to take care of Mom.
Did you transition from a traditional 9 to 5 job or did you jump right in? No transition. I had actually already left my restaurant job in the traditional working world the day Mom fell & was left paralyzed. I immediately became her caregiver & started helping raise my darling niece. A few years in I was already making jewelry for myself, family & friends and slowly realizing that I needed something more. Something of my own. A way to help contribute financially while spending my days with Mom & still keeping a creative outlet. Not long after that realization, and with a little help from my Dad, My Little Addiction was born.
Was there any one person in your life who inspired your creativity? Tell us about it. I am lucky in that regard, and have 4 people, who in their own way inspire me everyday. I don't think I would be the creative person I am today if my parents hadn't been as supportive. Mom is a jewelry nut (maybe that's where I get it from) and always wants to see new pieces & has ideas for new designs. Dad, bless his heart, knows very little about accessories, but is more that willing to look at a piece & give me his honest opinion. So sweet! My niece, now 16, regularly has new ideas for some piece of jewelry she'd like to have. Stretching my imagination & sometimes my abilities in ways I might not try if not for her youthful influence. Then, last but certainly not least, my sweet & supportive husband. We've been together since I was 19 & he has been by my side, loving, supporting & inspiring me through the best of times and the worst of times. He has unknowingly inspired so many of my designs via random conversation or sketching with me, and no matter how hard he's worked or how tired he is, he's always willing to be my sounding board for new ideas.
What is your favourite thing in your studio/office space? My desk. It's not a typical jeweler's bench, probably not all that practical either...but it was my great grandmothers, my Dad & I stripped layers of old paint off the gorgeous cherry wood together, it's well built & and it's just beautiful!
Do you have a creative process that you go through before you sit down to create? ie, meditate, light a candle, pour a glass of wine ( just kidding.... kinda) Not really. I usually do most of my work at night, after retuning home from my parents' house. I'll walk & feed our pup, play with her a bit then turn on some music and get to work. So I guess that is kind of a process, huh?
What is one piece of advice that you have to share with those who want to pursue a life that they design? Do it. Take that leap, whatever it may be, and make your life the life you want to live. It's going to be scary, it's going to be tough, but it's going to be worth it! Also, don't measure your success by the success of others. Your idea of success may be wholly different from theirs...so enjoy the ride, celebrate little victories, and design your ideal life! What are you waiting for?
Now for the fun stuff!!
If you could design your most perfect studio/office space anywhere in the world, where would that be? What would your view look like? Who would be with you? Wow, tough question! I haven't done a whole lot of traveling, but I always seem to gravitate towards the country...maybe the mountains. Hard to say though because we just moved into an amazing old house & honestly, I have the view I've wanted for so long. A big woodsy back yard. I can work & turn around to watch Lily through these big beautiful windows or just take a few steps to our sliding doors & play her own silly version of catch. So maybe if we could just move our house a bit farther into the country, towards the Appalachian Trail...that would be it. My husband & our dog would be with me, but family would have to be pretty close by.
Chocolate or Coffee? Or both!! Chocolate, definitely. I wish I enjoyed coffee more...
Pen and paper or digital? Pen & paper, always.
What colour/font do you find you use most often when you create? I'm a sucker for a good old typewriter font. Something basic, not flashy. I typically work in silver (mostly argentium silver) and love a good matte silver finish.
How many Pinterest boards do you currently have? How many are private?!! (I know you have one or two :) 13, 2 of which are shared...plus 1 secret board
What's one tool that you can't live without? Probably my torch. Without it I can't solder, fuse or melt any silver. ..but my ball peen hammer is a really close second!
What’s the last book you read? A Dirty Job: by Christopher Moore
Your favourite magazine to peruse? First off, love your usage of the word peruse! Don't hear that one often & usually get a funny look when I use it in conversation! ;o) I don't often make time to flip through magazines. Probably should, but when I do it's usually Martha Stewart Living or Scientific American
Where do you get your inspiration from? Anywhere I can! Random conversations, nature, space, my niece, song lyrics...
Any last words….. I had no idea that quitting my job a decade ago to take care of my mom would lead me to discovering a love for metal work and the opportunity to start a business of my own. Now, my jewelry sales allow me to continue taking care of Mom full time while sharing my creations with people all across the world. How incredible!! I have never done anything so difficult in my life, but it is honestly more rewarding than I ever could have dreamed possible! I am so grateful for these opportunities and I plan to continue learning more about my craft, growing my business, and will do a little happy dance with every single sale. Thank you Nicki, for giving me the chance to share my story & thank you, for the bottom of my heart, to everyone who has ever or will ever choose to purchase/wear a piece of my little addiction!