What process did you use to make the pieces? Most of my work is formed, carved and laminated, using various types of polymer… polymer clays, epoxy clays, sometimes resins. For my more sculptural pieces, I form an armature with a light polymer material, cure it, and then refine the form by carving it. Once the armature is complete, I laminate it with polymer clay canes (similar to the millefiori technique used in glass work). Once the final piece is cured (often after multiple curings), my work is sanded and buffed.
What is the idea behind the pieces? All my work is inspired by the natural world. I am educated as a scientist, but the foundation of my work draws mostly from many summers of my childhood spent on an island in Maine, with ample time to wander and explore the natural world.
Lately I have been really drawn to magnets as well as polymer. To me, they are magic…an unseen force that is magically drawn to the opposite side of itself. So, I have been trying to incorporate more magnets into the functionality of my jewelry…often to add to the surprise and mystery of my work.
Would you mind sharing a particular memories of a time spent in the natural world in Maine? The small 40 acre island I spent my summers on (seven weeks every summer!) as a child, is in Penobscott Bay, Maine. No one else lived there. It was very primitive… there was no phone, electricity, or running water. So, my parents had to work to keep us four kids occupied… My mom had baskets of art materials she would pull out, which my siblings devoured. I tended to hang around my mom, who set up a large fish tank just above the tide line, then at low tide she would wander through the sea weed, and wade into the shallows and pick things out that interested her. She would place these finds in her tank of water, then pull out her microscope and various field guides, and ooh and ah at what she found. I, of course, had to see what all the fuss was about. As I got older, I started digging under the sea weed myself. I also got into bird watching and mushrooming with my dad. But looking through that old microscope has stuck with me ever since.
Melanie will exhibiting in the Honed exhibition in the Unlimited Substance series from 23 January to 02 February 2015.
Additional information about Melanie’s practice can be viewed at the Honed exhibition catalogue blog.
Melanie will also be exhibiting in Perfect mutations from 08 July to 19 July 2015.