Toronto native Melanie Neves works from her home-base studio, a space filled with natural light, house plants and her favourite books. Surrounded by music and a view of one of the city’s many green spaces Neves says, “It’s the perfect place to tap into my creative side.”
Her interest in jewellery design has been organic; a hobby turned into a full-time pursuit that has grown in the three years since she first discovered metal clay online. “I’ve always loved working with clay, and when I found precious metal clay, jewellery was the natural progression.”
Neves shared that her lack of formal training means that there are no prescribed boundaries to her creativity and glorious artistic discoveries through trial and error. Her investment in a small kiln and a metal clay sample pack has led her to produce a line of exclusive necklaces, pendants, rings and earrings with metal clay. Much of her work is with powdered Hadar’s Clay™.
The process with precious metal clay is interesting, and quite honestly, you never really know what you’re going to pull out of the kiln. I generally use Hadar’s Clay™ (powder), but there are metal clays that come premixed and ready to go so you don’t need to worry about mixing it yourself. The majority of metal clay is 90% metal and 10% organic binder. Think of the binder as the glue that holds all the metal particles together. I prefer to use Hadar’s Clay™ because it has a long shelf life and does not dry out since it is in powder form, but it also means that I have to be careful with how much water I add to create the clay.
Can you describe the process of making a piece of metal clay jewellery?
Once you have the metal clay ready, you can mould it and shape it however you would like. Similar to regular clay, it will hold its shape. Once you have finished your creation, you have to let it dry. You can speed this process along, but you want to make sure you’re not heating things too quickly otherwise your pieces may crack and may need some repair. After your piece is completely dry, it will need to be sanded to remove any rough edges then polished, and sealed to give it more of a finished look.
What tools do you need for your work?
Oh my! You can work with a whole lot of tools or with few depending on what you’re making, but here are some of the basics:
Precious metal clay
Kiln, carbon, and firing bowl
Moulds and mould making material
Clay shaping tools
Sanding pads/sanding paper
Findings, necklace chains, ring mandrels
What stimulates your design work?
I often find inspiration in nature or the juxtaposition of masculine and feminine. I also get a lot of my ideas when travelling. Learning about other cultures and watching how people within those cultures interact with one another, their style and quality of life, and their fashion all peak my interest and provide inspiration for days. Being a huge history buff, I also occasionally find myself working on pieces that are reminiscent of different historical eras. But inspiration is one of those things can strike anywhere, and at any time.
Tell us about your company name.
Kĕme is a slight twist on the ancient Egyptian word “khēmia”, meaning transmutation of earth. Melanie shared that she is still continuously amazed by the alchemy that takes place working with metal clay.
Perfect for gifts or your collection take a look at Melanie Neve’s full collection here.
Image Credits: all photos provided by and published with the permission of Kĕme Jewellery