First off, tell me a little bit about yourself.
My name is Melanie Sweet, and I am the designer, CEO, and chief bottle washer of Studio 110 Jewelry. I was born and raised in New York City, but I’ve been a transplanted Texan since 1980. I currently live and work in San Antonio, where I have a complete jewelry studio in my home. I came from a very creative family – my father was in advertising, my mother painted, and my sister has a fine arts degree. While I considered myself to be artistic as well, I went off in a completely different direction – I attended medical school and became a pediatrician. I never completely lost touch with my creative side during those years, but life temporarily took me on another path. Reconnecting with my love of art and craft was a revelation.
How and when did you start making jewelry and your other items?
After I had children, I took a very early retirement from medicine. I continued to “dabble” in various art forms – painting, porcelain doll making, miniatures. When my children started school, I began taking classes in papermaking at the Southwest School of Art and Craft in San Antonio. One semester during class registration, there was a drawing for a free class, and I was the winner. The only class that fit into my schedule was something called metalsmithing, which I somehow imagined to be welding, or perhaps forging iron. Not one to ever turn down something free, I took the class and to my delight discovered that it consisted of fabricating jewelry and other metal constructions, with no horseshoeing involved! This was in the mid-90’s and to this day I still take classes and workshops at SWSAC. I find there is always something to learn and new techniques to master.
When and how did you originally find Etsy?
An instructor at my school first told me about Etsy. I began my shop, Studio 110 Jewelry, in 2009. The “110” in Studio 110 Jewelry has a double meaning – it’s part of my physical address, but also implies 110 per cent. I always try to put a little something extra in everything I do.
What is unique about Etsy and what about the website do you like the most in regards to your shop?
When I would do craft fairs, or tell friends about my jewelry designs, they would always ask. “Do you have a website?” I considered it many times, but the process seemed too complex, technical, and expensive. Etsy serves as both the website for Studio 110 Jewelry and as my on-line store, and has been incredibly easy to use. Etsy is unique in that the buyer knows that they are dealing directly with the artist or craftsperson, and not just shopping for mass-produced merchandise. Etsy is also a community, affording you the chance to see what other artists are doing and to connect with them. Plus, I love the “indie” feel of Etsy – very fun and fresh.
What inspires you the most in regards to your creations?
I’m different from many jewelry designers in that I tend to “wing it” most of the time, rather than carefully planning out my designs. I might start with an interesting stone, and then create a setting that complements it. Or I may have a new technique that I’ve learned, and just start playing with it. My colored resin leaf pendants are an example of that. I do love color and texture – you won’t find any plain shiny silver in my collection!
What is your favorite piece you’ve created and why?
While I don’t think I have a favorite piece, I did have a lot of fun with my “Out of This World” pendant. This is an example of a design in which I began with an unusual stone, and the resulting piece just grew out of it.
I often say that I make my jewelry for myself, and just hope that other people like it as well. I create nothing that I wouldn’t proudly wear, so in a way they are all my favorites.
What do you want to accomplish with your online shop?
My online shop, Studio 110 Jewelry, affords me the opportunity to connect with buyers outside my immediate area. I’ve even sold a piece to someone in England! I also get an informal “review.” I can see how many people “heart” one of my creations, how many times it’s been viewed. Sometimes I’m surprised at what I learn!
Do you have any new creations in the works? If so, what can shoppers expect to see from you soon?
I’m looking forward to working with Fastfire BronzClayTM, which is so brand-new that I haven’t received my shipment yet. I have been working with precious metal clay for many years, and I’m a certified instructor. I love the bronze pieces I have been creating but the process has limitations and is very time consuming. This new metal clay should allow me to create some more complex and intricate pieces to add to the Studio 110 Jewelry collection.
While I like to push myself creatively, I have always believed that jewelry should be wearable art. My goal is to make jewelry that allows the wearer to express his or her own personal style in a unique way.
Where can readers find out about more information regarding your jewelry and other creations and possible special offers (including additional websites, blogs, facebook, etc)?
I am always adding new jewelry creations to my Etsy site. In addition, I am a member of crafthaus, an online social network/community of contemporary artists and more of my work, including vessels and conceptual pieces, can be found on that site.