Melanie Sherwood

Written by Ellen Gurley

Melanie Sherwood
Interview by: Ellen Gurley

Melanie SherwoodE: I have recently seen some of your jewelry design. As best as I can describe it, I’d call it “steampunk”? How long have you been doing ‘this’?
M: It’s definitely steam punk, with some vintage style, as well. I was in an art show a few months ago. The theme was assemblage art. I did my research and couldn't believe what I saw; gadgets and junk pulled apart and pieced together to create something new and different. As the images rolled across the screen, I stumbled onto steampunk. I have never worked with metals before and some of the jewelry was fascinating to me. I had tons of pieces left over from my dumpster diving extravaganza for the art show, so I just started messing around with different pieces. Before I knew it, I had a piece that I thought would look awesome as a brooch, so I ran with it. I'd say that moment was at the end of December 2012.

E: Is there any ‘piece’ of music that ‘sounds like’ what you are ‘thinking’ when creating using these alternative materials? (Skinny Puppy, Thrill Kill Kult, ha)
M: I find MUCH inspiration in music. Of course, I love Skinny Puppy and Thrill Kill Kult, they are definately on my list of what i listen to while creating. However, i usually FEEL like Gepetto working with such tiny pieces. My musical taste is pretty vast. Lately I've been listening to Otep, In this Moment, Dieselboy, Datsik and I dusted off some old KMFDM just weeks ago. Just todayI listened to some old Queens of the Stone Age. Oh, Queens of the Stone Age; "No One Knows" is definitely suitable. That's the song that sounds like what I'm thinking when creating these pieces!

E: The pieces I have seen have mechanical elements and masculine qualities. This is unisex. Who is your average customer?
M: I have always worn more masculine (than feminine) jewelry, so it's no wonder that it carried over into my creative style. My average customers are all ages of women, including teenage girls! It's pretty cool because I sold a necklace to an 80 year old woman one day and made a custom ring for a 13 year old girl. I love that my jewelry adorns young and old (transcending the boundaries of cultural ideals).

E: Are there other ‘styles’ of design that you use?
M: Yes; antique, vintage, a little goth and some Victorian.

E: Did you have to take metal smithing courses?
M: I have no formal training. I could, however, mention that my cousin, Bubba, is a metal smithing god. Maybe it's in my blood?

E: From whence do you find inspiration, nature, machines?
M: For my jewelry, I find inspiration in machines, antiques; anything mechanical and old. I like mixing metals with earthy tones and textures.

E: Where can your pieces be viewed/purchased?
M: My gallery is updated with new pieces regularly. I'd like to begin retailing my work in boutiques and trade shows as well.

E: I have also heard that you are not just a jewelry designer, but you also paint. You have a Nebulae Series that is described as abstract contemporary. Tell me about this series. And which came first; painting or jewelry design? Which ‘gets’ more of your time?
M: Right now, the jewelry is getting more time than the painting and drawing. What I typically do is have a few pieces of jewelry started, while I'm waiting on things to set I'll usually work on something else that I've started. In my art studio I have about four things at once going on. It's a curse. I can't be idle.
Drawing came first, painting then jewelry. One of the many things I love about art is that the possibilities are limitless. Taking one medium, learning it, figuring out ways to change it, manipulating it into another medium, expanding and learning constantly. I love that.
The Nebulae Series is a series that I started a few years ago. I am intrigued by the complexity of black holes, stars, nebulae... the realm of which holds so many secrets yet to be discovered. I love the Hubble telescope images. I was challenged to attempt to paint like this. The Nebulae Series was born during a difficult time in my life. Painting is my therapy.  In fact, I would describe myself as an "emotional painter". I have always been able to pour my emotion into painting, step back, and be amazed at what I saw… unable to understand what or how I did what I did! Painting really comes from my subconscious and I literally learn about myself from my work. You can see some of my paintings and drawings here:

E: What is your favourite ‘thing’ to paint on; canvas, wood, panel?
M: Oooh...between these three choices? I'd choose canvas. Honestly, I'll paint on anything!

E: You have recently become engaged and congratulations. And I have to ask people who design jewelry, do you plan to design your own wedding ring?
M: Thank you! The ring that I was given has been in my fiancee’s family since the 1920's. It's such a beautiful piece and it's (straight up) my style. I may create the bands... if I find the perfect tiny pieces.

E: What is your favourite creation (from sketches to painting to jewelry)? (You do sketch, correct?)
M: Yes, I do.  I started out sketching comic book characters. hard to say which is my favorite. Well, there is one that I'll never get rid of. It's the first Nebulae I painted. It's black, brown, cream and white. I painted it when I was feeling so many new emotions. Well, one dark rainy day (HAHA)… it was in the car traveling with me and when I stopped to get it out it had a huge gaping hole in the canvas.  I couldn't believe it. It was almost dead center, too! So, I took it and cut it and built a custom frame for it. And it's in my art studio. It's been dropped so many times, it's fallen off the wall, it's gotten wet, and it has somehow has other paint on it. It's so funny, because this piece has been through so much, yet it’s holding strong; much like how I felt at the time of painting it.

E: Wow, meant to be. What’s next for Miss Melanie Sherwood?
M: I’m finishing a few commissioned pieces. I'm distressing some pieces of antique furniture for a client next month. I've tried my hand at carpentry by building a pergola on our back deck along with double chaise and outdoor sectional (all built by hand). I painted a rainbow mural in my daughter’s room along with sewing all of the pillows and building everything in her room by hand. Posting this on Facebook has actually gotten me a few jobs doing murals. I have a client in Colorado who is having me create a few things for their business as well as painting a mural in their new home. I'm working on a graffiti style piece for another client. As long as I'm creating... I'm cool with whatever comes next.


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