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Melodie Owen: Featured Jewelspan Jeweler

Contemporary, handcrafted multi-media jewelry using vibrant color and detailed texture.

How did you get your start in jewelry designing, and please give our readers a little bit of information about yourself (upbringing, education, where you live etc...)?

I loved jewelry from a very early age.  I started working at a jewelry store at the age of 14 where I learned engraving and eventually worked in sales.  By the time I finally left (in my 20’s)I still owed them for all the jewelry I bought.  It was a great way to learn about fine jewelry! 

I grew up in a family of artists in New Mexico and I’ve been influenced by them and many teachersand mentors over the years.  In college I started out majoring in Commercial Art but switched to Business.  I earned a Bachelor and Masters degree in Business.  After leaving my accounting career my husband, Gary, and I designed and built custom homes for 15 years.  The process of home design crossed over nicely with the artistic process of jewelry design.  I always made time for my jewelry endeavors along the way and now am able to devote a major portion of my time to designing and creating unique wearable art.

Tell our readers about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.  

Over the years I have been fortunate to learn from some incredible teachers and be influenced by great designers.  I have enjoyed the process of synthesizing different techniques in order to come up with my very own style.  I am continually challenged and stretched by teachers and new techniques as well as by customers with commission work.  

It is invigorating to explore new design techniques.  I never get bored in the studio!

 

What was the inspiration for your “Found Objects & Mixed Media” collection?

The Found Object jewelry pieces are very personalized. 

Homage a La Grande Dame was designed and made for the wine maker at Veuve Cliquot whom I met at a wine tasting in Santa Fe.  It includes found objects from the champagne caps, labels as well as tags hand stamped with descriptors in several languages. 

 

Other pieces are designed for customers to recognize their passions.  For example, Dressage for Kym (above) is a custom necklace with a dressage theme.  It is hand crafted with found objects such as horse hair and a miniature horse trailer.  It has hand stamped tags with dressage terms and incorporates a personalized photo of the rider as a centerpiece.

  

The fun of finding something that might otherwise be discarded and incorporating it into a piece of jewelry is gratifying.  A friend was going through her grandmother's things and was ready to toss a cigar box full of big old buttons. She asked if I wanted them... Wow, what a treasure trove of beauty!  

Designing and making mixed media jewelry is a wonderful creative experience.  I love to incorporate color, texture and three dimensionality to my pieces so exploring a variety of materials creates excitement for me in my designs.  I have been working a lot in steel lately and find it to be wonderful for the large scultural pieces and also works beautifully in capturing odd shaped found objects.  

You mentioned in your bio that you have had extensive training through Rio Grande, what types of courses have you taken and which was your favorite, and why?

I count myself to be incredibly lucky to live in Albuquerque – the home of  Rio Grande Jewelry Supply.  They provide world class training classes that are attended by student from all around the world.  The first class I took at Rio was Precious Metal Clay.  That really opened the door to some new and different design opportunities.  I followed with a wonderful variety of classes, including different forms of metalsmithing, stone setting, soldering, wire wrapping, glass fusing, fold forming, lampwork beads, plating and more.  It is difficult to pick a favorite.  I just love learning new techniques and experimenting with combining methods.  

 

What gives you the most pleasure in your career as a jewelry designer?

I love seeing a new piece develop.  I enjoy the one-of-a-kind creations and I get a great deal of pleasure when a customer connects with the piece.  

 

Tell us how you promote and market your jewelry? Have you been able to use your website to promote your work and career?

I have used a number of methods to market my jewelry including my website, printed media, facebook, design competitions, and studio tours. When I meet new people that are interested in my jewelry I direct them to my website to see my work and to sign up for my mailing list for shows.  I keep my friends current on my latest designs with Facebook which also directs them to my website. They have the option to be notified when I post a new piece on the website so that is a great feature for keeping in touch.  One of my favorite marketing events is our annual Studio Tour.  I get a chance to visit with my customers and help them pick the perfect piece of jewelry for themselves or for their family and friends.  

 

 
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