Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Story Behind the Polymer Clay Jewelry from Mel's Art Buffet

I never would have expected that the inspiration for such interesting jewelry could have come from a Celiac diagnosis—read on to learn how Mel of Mel's Art Buffet expresses her love for food, even when she can't eat it. Just a little reminder to me that it's always a good idea to learn the backstory of handmade items I like, because more often than not, it will add an unexpectedly interesting element to my understanding of the work.

1. Tell me a little bit about your work- what makes it unique?
My goal is to create show stopping, head turning, mind scratching jewelry. I think accessories should be bold & fun. It is with these concepts in mind that I set out to design truly unique jewelry. To accomplish this, I make my “thread webs” the center of attention for each piece. Organic & natural, the thread webs are one of a kind each & every time never to be duplicated. As we are all unique & special, it is important to have jewelry to match.

2. Can you explain the process of making your jewelry?
I make my thread webs & their vessels separately. So, many times I will start with a thread web and create a custom carrier or maybe pick a frame from a batch previously made. Its always fun to see what combo will be born. Polymer clay is currently my medium of choice. Polymer clay is a moldable blank canvas, the perfect medium to unite with my thread webs. One of the most challenging design aspects is to determine how the focal will be attached to something else...This will dictate the jewelry type whether it be a brooch, ring, necklace, bracelet, earrings? Next, I will go bead shopping, in my studio mind you. I have enough beads to open a small shop. I tend to get carried away but its nice to have what you need when you need it! I'm really excited about the thread webs & think I have just begun to skin the surface of ideas to incorporate them into workable wearable art.

3. Is this your full time work?
I work full time as an office manager for a residential appraisal company. The days are between 10-12 hours long depending on the financial climate. While I love my day job & feel fortunate to work with a staff hat has become family over the years, my heart & mind long to create. I will always crave more time to devote to my Etsy shop but I am thankful to have such a wonderful day job. Some days I will leave work with several sketches, to set my mind at ease.

4.How does making jewelry help you balance the rest of the demands of your life?
Designing & creating are absolute essential aspects of who I am. With jewelry design, I am able to loose myself in a world of creativity. It is my form of meditation. When I create something my energy is refreshed & revitalized. I am lucky to have found the perfect creative outlet necessary for balance with the every day.

5.Where are you located? I was born, raised, & currently reside in the great city of Memphis, TN. We have a beautiful downtown area that is so much fun! Rich with local art & outstanding music. And, you can't beat grabbing a drink to watch the sun set over the Mississippi River.

6.What inspires you and your work?
Inspiration comes easy to me. My main inspiration is derived from food. I know this sounds crazy but stick with me... In 2004, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, which means no gluten – a protein found in wheat, rye, barley & oats. So, being on a restricted diet I eat visually what I'm not allowed physically. I love to read recipes but more so love to look at food images. Alluring food pictures & blogs are where I find major inspiration. I think food is beautiful & the colors are simply pure & inspiring. A slice of bread, the crumb from a cupcake, or a swirl in a bowl of soup. I can look at a picture of pie & draw multiple sketches for a jewelry piece. I'm obsessed. So this is how Mel's Art Buffet blossomed, buy combining my greatest love in life – food & art.

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