I’m so happy to share with you today the work of Melanie Shelor, the creative force behind Albuquerque- based Laminar. She is a talented jeweler (which doesn’t even seem to feel like the right title to use considering the amount of work and intensity that her creative process entails) whose work not only blows me away, but her words as well. As you’ll read below, she describes the inspiration for her jewelry in such vivid, particular ways. There is so much vision behind her unique pieces, which you’ll read & see, but there is also so much intention behind the designs, materials, etc. It’s always amazing to see beautiful minds hard at work making beautiful things!
1. Where do you draw inspiration from for your pieces?
Anywhere and everywhere. As a child I always had shapes running through my head, tracing their outlines in my mind, going around and around over and over again.
Of course, I draw from the minimalist artists, Ellsworth Kelly, Donald Judd, etc., but also heavily from the entropy visible in the desiccated, austere, or otherwise ruined landscapes of my youth on the High Plains and in my present space in New Mexico. For example, the tangle necklaces are an evocation of the twisted rebar and rubbled concrete left behind from demolitions that are so often left to sit on lots in cities until the economy swing up again. I specifically use uncoated stainless steel cable because it shimmers os nicely in the light and it kinks in a predictable manner. The use of a material that is frequently associated with high-tech architectural applications in its abject, deformed state offers a kind of poetic allusion to the contemporary global city: shimmering, yet ruined in a way…but beautiful, nonetheless. The glass pieces are simply moments ensured in a tangled matrix.
2. What materials do you prefer working with & why?
I very much enjoy using recycled, or found, materials. At the moment I typically work in glass, stainless steel, aluminum, and silver but I would like to understand better the properties of plastics and perhaps wood in the future. So far I have found glass to be the most rewarding in terms of processing – cutting, drilling, and tumbling. I use silver for earring mainly because it’s relatively affordable, is forgiving to work with, and is easily worn by people with different chemistries.
3. Describe the kind of woman you’re designing for
I design for the idealized version of myself out in the world.
4. What’s been your biggest obstacle/difficulty either inspiration wise or just technically in making your pieces?
Time and space, of course! In my recent move back to Albuquerque from Phoenix, I inherited a couple of junky yards in which I can do much of the messy work, such as cutting glass and tumbling. I find that the biggest challenge is setting up the studio – or factory, really – in such a way that facilitates a smooth work flow. It’s all about the infrastructure and I’m still struggling with it.
5. How do you set your prices?
Pricing is still somewhat nebulous to me and I continue to work to understand it! That said, the silver pieces are easier to price because of the material cost being a stable factor, for the most part.
6. What are some of your goals/future plans for your work/business?
I’d like to establish a steady following among the design niche in global cities in the coming years.
7. Anything else my readers should know? Anything I missed?
I have a background in architecture; I worked in a variety of offices and even did a bit of studio teaching and architecture research in the past several years. After having my daughter in 2008 I found that I couldn’t stomach the extreme stress of the working environment in the profession anymore. Coincidentally, 2008 also marked the burst of the housing bubble and pretty much every architect and designer I knew got laid off in the year and half that followed. It was a watershed moment in every respect, to say the least. So, Inspired by my sister’s desire to make resin bangles (which we still haven’t accomplished yet!) I just started making jewelry. I knew I was good at crafting things with my hands and people just responded to it.
So obviously now you’re just dying to get your hands on some of these wonders. Hop on over to her Etsy shop
And get connected with Laminar on Twitter and Pinterest!
Love and safety to all my readers on this cinco de mayo!