Where do you work?
My studio is in Jamaica Plain, MA. It's a small space with beads and wire crowding the walls. For me, walking in feels like walking into a Candyland of Color.
How do you make the mobiles and jewelry?
Using pliers and my hands, I shape steel, sterling silver, and copper. For many designs, I create flattened shapes by using a hammer and a rolling mill. The wire-wrapping that you see in the mobiles and jewelry, I also do by hand. When making jewelry, I will often use a torch to soften the silver and copper and to help me shape it. I create each piece individually, so no two pieces are exactly alike.
Who are you, exactly?
Hi, I'm Melissa. I'm the maker of the mobiles and jewelry. I can't tell you who I am, exactly, but I can tell you a few things about me: I'm an artist and a social worker. I love bright colors and intricate textures. I'm most inspired by Mexican art, Spanish colors and tiles, and West African designs. When I'm not making things, I love hearing people's stories. Also, I love hiking, biking, swinging in a hammock, and snorkeling. And eating, of course.
Why mobiles and jewelry?
I started off, a while back, making paintings and prints. I love both of these things-- the processes, the smells, the colors, and the messiness. Then, in 1999, I had the opportunity to travel and make masks in many different countries. What I loved about masks was the way people interacted with them. Masks are wearable art-- art that decorates the body, changes the appearance, and alters the being (if just temporarily). I returned from this experience knowing that I wanted to make interactive art. This started as jewelry and has grown to include mobiles.
Do you make the birds? And, do you make everything else?
Yes! I make each bird by hand, using polymer clay (as well as paperclay). I also make all of the armatures for the mobiles and do the wire-wrapping by hand. For my jewelry, I design and make all of the silver shapes and components. For some pieces, I use pre-made chain and ear wires.