Christina Romeo: I am a mixed media abstract expression artist working in multi-disciplinary media such as contemporary abstract paintings, textile work,modern ceramics as well as odd, irregular drawings and watercolor illustrations.
Melissa Lew has been an artist her whole life. Some of her fondest childhood memories are of making jewelry with her mother. These days, in addition to her graphic design day job, she is also a painter, a photographer, a classically trained pianist, and of course, the designer and sculptor of her own jewelry line.
The current Melissa Lew jewelry collection includes four lines, with four themes: Transcendence (cherry blossoms), Prosperity (goldfish), Longevity (Asian dogwoods), and Resilience (transfers of Melissa’s paintings on bamboo). Melissa uses mainly recycled, sustainable, and eco-friendly materials to create her jewelry, including recycled fine silver, stainless steel, and bamboo. All her recycled fine silver jewelry is hand carved, so every single piece is completely unique!
Although Melissa has wide-ranging experience in the visual and performing arts, her interests were focused into jewelry making partially through her exposure to recycled fine silver. The material intrigued her, and she found it was an excellent medium to translate her passion for her Chinese heritage into a personal, wearable form.
“I love how personal jewelry is,” she says. “I love that instead of being hung on a
wall or placed on a pedestal, people wear it and enjoy it.”
Her inspirations come from her Chinese heritage, and from the deep reverence the Chinese have for the natural world. Classical Chinese proverbs, symbolism, and tradition all play a part in the creation of Melissa Lew jewelry.
Melissa taught herself how to make jewelry, which is unsurprising for someone attracted to all types of art and handcrafting. She had always been interested in sculpture, and jewelry-making, the way she does it anyway, is just like sculpture on a very small scale.
In addition to her love for recycled fine silver, Melissa also hopes to experiment with other recycled metals, including copper, bronze, and gold.
Melissa Lew Jewelry has won several awards and has been shown in exhibitions locally and across the country. Most recently, locals may have seen her jewelry adorn the models at DC Fashion Week in February.
Not surprisingly, Melissa’s DC-area customers are drawn to her cherry blossom themed Transcendence line. She supposes that the extremely popular National Cherry Blossom Festival here makes it easy for locals to form a personal connection between the understated flower and their hometown.
You can find Melissa Lew jewelry online and at local arts and craft shows. The next one will be the Ballston Arts & Crafts Market in Arlington, Virginia on June 12. Melissa’s web site is updated regularly with news on her upcoming events and appearances, so check often!
Even here in Northern California the weather is finally turning to Fall. (Horrors, I even had to wear a jacket the other day!) But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love a reminder of the fun summer we just had.
Even though Ocean Girl‘s summer at the beach and mine were apparently quite different, I still appreciate the beachy reminders she evokes in her jewelry.
I’ve had a handmade sea glass necklace my mother gave me probably 20 years ago, and to this day it is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry. Try something from Ocean Girl Collection and you may just find your own favorite for the next couple of decades.
There is something about Hillieballoo, a charming little Folksy shop that sells gorgeous items; kids clothes, pillows, custom made drawstring bags and one of my most favourite things ever: personalised items. I dream about creating in the same way that Hillieballoo does but I know I don’t have the time or energy required – and I think I have about 20 other projects on the back burner, anyway.
So, I’ll stick to buying from people like Hillieballoo (or at least dreaming about buying from) and leave the crafty stuff up to them. But while we’re on the note of kids clothes I just want to say something: I LOVE handmade kids clothes. Of course not just any old handmade and I wouldn’t purchase something that had been poorly made just for the sake of buying handmade.
When I was younger I used to adore going to Remnant Kings in Edinburgh with my Mum so we could pick out fabric for T-shirts, shorts, dresses, trousers; cropped and long leg and she’d sometimes rustle up a hair bobble with the leftover fabric from her creations. I loved picking out my favourite patterns. I loved flicking through the massive knitting pattern books; my little hands searching for the baby knits and cooing at the pudgy baby models dressed in white Arran. I loved the overpowering smell of wool and ladies perfume in the place.
The shop always seemed like a wizard’s lair; it had a magical ambience about it. The women who worked behind the tills were always so polite and helpful (if memory serves me well!). The shop was always bustling with customers; mostly women, who would come in looking for that perfect pattern/fabric/something to top off their own creations.
I loved being amongst it all, being a young observer and thinking to myself ‘one day I’ll be on the look out for my own material for curtains, for clothes.’ But that never seemed to happen.
My Mum had a skill for making T-shirts in particular. She always said that things were easy to make and when I tried my hand at making dolls clothes I didn’t find it easy in the least. That’s why I am a buyer and she is a maker.
My Mum also knits amazing things for her grandchildren. One of the blankets she made for my son when he was newborn led to my husband asking the question; “Where did we get this?” when I responded with the fact my Mum had made it he looked really taken aback. “Oh,” he said. “I thought we got it in a shop or something.”
I know us Westerners have fallen prey to the throwaway fashion trend; buy something, wear it for three months (or less) and then throw it out, replace wardrobe again. I simply don’t understand this way of thinking. For a start, doesn’t it cost people a small fortune? Throwaway fashion wasn’t an option 15 years ago. It was Borrow It, Hand Me Downs, Spend A Small Fortune On It or Make It. We went through variations on all of those themes but mostly it was Make It for my Mum. And I loved this. I love it now that she can create things for my son and I can ‘oooh and ahhh’ at those creations.
Much like I ‘oooh’ and ‘ahh’ at any creation I catch on Folksy, Etsy or crafter blogs. I admire the items, but I don’t think I can reach those heights. A perfect example of my oooh and ahhing is the above image of the Blue Strawberry Dress from Daisy Chains And Grass Stains.
Or this 1950s style dress Daisy Chains And Grass Stains. Perfect.
So, what are you? A buyer, like me, who can’t create clothes as easy as ABC or a maker, who can create everything in a blink of the eye?
Wrap this gorgeous creation around your neck and face the day with style and flair.