Wire Art Jewelry by Mel: I started making jewelry over 10 years ago, even longer if you count some jewelry I made with my father while I was still in grade school. I am basically self-taught with the experience of working with several great artists and teaching. My degrees are in art and psychology from a small liberal arts college. I moved to California to go to grad school, but never made it. I started creating jewelry as my main source of income there and began working for a company (whose name I cannot legally mention) making jewelry showcases for department stores. So, you may have seen my work without even knowing it, since they did not incorporate the artists names. I moved back near Chicago a few years ago and continue my passion for art, working from a studio in Wheaton.
I first met the gutsy Emily (and her gorgeous gEMs) about a year ago and I have been a die-hard fan ever-since. For those who have yet to discover the EmmsgEMs shop, allow me to introduce you. Winnipegger Emily designs pieces that are colourful, timeless, funky and fun. Always on-trend, the collection is constantly growing with casually-elegant, easy-to-wear earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
In the interest of full-disclosure, I should mention that I came home last Thursday evening and found a flat of petunias on my doorstep. They weren’t put there by a secret admirer, or mysterious garden-fairy, but were dispatched by the lovely (and generous) Emily and delivered by her wonderful hubby. The gesture, while much-appreciated, had nothing to do with this week’s feature on Emily and her shop, EmmsgEMs. No, the gems in Em’s shop stand on their own merit; especially the gorgeous new “eco-collection”, which has me all a-flutter. I had the opportunity to feature one of Emily’s coconut shell pieces in an earlier post, as some of you may remember, and couldn’t wait to shine the spotlight on her again. Needless to say, I was thrilled when Emily agreed to an interview…
My creative mind is in hyper-drive – which is detrimental to my health.
You have new, eco-fabulous materials in your shop! What’s the scoop?
I stumbled in to eco-fabulous by accident. (eco-fabulous – I love that!) By that, I mean that I didn’t just decide one day that I wanted to create jewelry that uses sustainable and recycled materials. I purchase beads that I love – and it all started with coconut. Discovering coconut beads in my collection, along with Buri nut beads, I did some research, and discovered that beads derived from nuts and seeds are sustainable – no trees are harmed. I’ve been using these ingredients for over a decade! How cool and green is that?! Some of my other “green” ingredients include paper, recycled glass, and various nuts-seeds from Peru (picked up by a good friend who was traveling the world).
I love the new pieces. You have such a distinctive style (there’s no doubt that these are “gEMs”); were there any challenges in introducing/integrating the new materials, while keeping with the EmmsgEMs “look”?
I like to put elements together that you wouldn’t normally expect to be paired – like paper and glass – and I don’t like to over-do a piece. The bead is the star – second to the person wearing the jewelry.
Is there a learning curve in working with new beads?
Test the bead holes before beginning the task of stringing! And don’t expect two identical pieces! Oh – and a bead reamer might be good to have – I have pricked myself many times using a short straight pin to clean out holes!
To me, the beauty of recycled materials lies in the imperfections. What is it for you?
Colour and texture (both visual and tactile) are what draw me to a specific bead. I’m a “bead grabber” when shopping; I don’t set out to buy beads that match. Nature is full of these elements!
What has been the response to the new “eco-collection”?
I was recently selected as an “Etsy Find”! And, I’m here! This is the big time!
What are your favourite pieces?
Seriously? I have a difficult time parting with ALL of my pieces, but I’m really enjoying my front toggle necklaces and my red Bahay seed earrings.
I never see you mention “limited mobility” in your product descriptions, yet your pieces all seem to be made for easy-use/wearability (slip on necklaces and bracelets, big toggles, etc). As someone who has MS, do you design with this specifically in mind?
Thanks for the idea! I often tag my slip on necklaces as “easy-on” – once I realized that it was an additional benefit to what was originally my “metal free” line of jewelry. I struggle with fatigue, and just because I’ve given up wearing make-up to save energy, it takes a lot less effort to compliment my outside-self with a great stretch bracelet!
Generally speaking, do you think jewelry designers are getting better in terms of universal design?
I don’t know what other jewelry designers are doing – but it’s a great idea.
Tell me something good.
It’s baseball season in Winnipeg!
I love these whimsical fish-inspired necklaces.
Fishbone Silver: I mostly work with pmc and sterling but also throw copper and beads in the mix. I am inspired by nature and the beach community I live in. I have a grown daughter, 5 golden retrievers, 4 horses and 2 donkeys, quite a wonderful zoo!
Spectacular crochet necklaces for the boldest of necks.
Out of this world shapes and forms.
From uloni, $33 – $50.
Plarn is the new yarn (or wool, as us Brits call it.) It’s name comes from combining the words ‘plastic’ and ‘yarn.’ Plarn is made up from folded and shredded plastic bags which are then rolled into a ball and is used as a replacement yarn. It is then crocheted into various items. I’ve seen bags, (like the above) necklaces, ear rings, koozies, cuffs, scourers, coasters and even headbands made from plarn. (Top image: Arny’s Etsy)
Yep, I said necklaces made from plarn. This was one of my favourites from the Arny shop, but if you wanted something a little more low key and less chunky you could opt for something like this:
The Arny shop strapline is; “Giving Earth a second chance.” And after a recent de-clutter and purge of my un-used “stuff” I came across Plastic Bag Mountain in our kitchen.
We have a huge collection of plastic bags and here’s why; we don’t drive otherwise we’d invest in some strong milk cartons which would carry our groceries home, so every time we hit the store, we (read: my husband) forget to pack our ‘Bags For Life’ (a cotton bag that the stores have taken to sell near the cash registers in order to encourage customers to opt out of using plastic bags.) So more plastic bags are used, collected, stored in the tiny kitchen we have and generally they get forgotten about.
I have heard it takes 1,000 years for a plastic bag to break down in a landfill site. Bearing this in mind, I wanted to check this out for myself. There are conflicting studies; some studies suggest that it takes between 10-20 years to break down (The New York Times, Nemve E. Metropolitan Diary, October 1, 2001) and Ohio State University telling us that by adding moisture to a landfill site that it will speed up the decomposition process.
Either way, plastic bags are becoming a growing problem; clogging up drains, being a general eyesore and have even more serious fatal consequences when wildlife mistake plastic bags for food.
In the UK our supermarkets have started to charge it’s customers per bag when they opt for plastic as a way to bring down the usage of plastic bags.
So while I still have Plastic Bag Mountain I will opt to learn to crochet, make plarn and try my hand at plarning myself some necklaces for next Christmas. And thanks to eHow and their step by step “how to” on making plarn I can make my own ball of plarn.