One of my favorite guilty pleasures is sneaking off to browse around Etsy, and one special store that has found a place in my collection of Etsy favorites is Blue Hour Designs, which features the work of metalsmith, Alysia Sánchez Melnikov.
Alysia’s work is curvy, modern, and light-as-air. Her more simple, clean-lined, and elegant designs are complemented by others, which include rich patterns and remind me of silkscreened ethnic fabrics or Moroccan tiles. Alysia’s finishing is beautiful and her pieces reveal her touch with a warm, hand-wrought appeal.
Alysia and I chatted recently about her work and her inspiration. Take a look:
Molly Therese Bell: How would you describe your work? Also, tell us how it’s evolved over time.
Alysia Sánchez Melnikov: My designs are certainly a work in progress…while I’ve always liked a slightly more modern look with clean minimalist lines frequently seen in Scandinavian designs, over the last couple of years, I’ve been integrating more ornate Latin and Moroccan elements, too. I love how these fundamentally different styles complement each other! One of the other biggest evolutions in my work stems from me becoming more true to my own style and understanding what my own style is in the first place. I think it’s fairly common for designers to come up with work that *should* be well liked by others or *should* sell well…because those are the things you often think about when you do this for a living. Well, in my case, it’s best to throw all that mentality out of my head and just focus on designs that I personally would love to wear. This is when my best work emerges and also when I derive the most enjoyment from my work.
MTB: What are your favorite materials to work with and why?
ASM: Definitely sterling silver and semi-precious stones! I love creating big bold pieces by pairing the two. I also like mixing metals such as copper, brass, and gold with silver. For instance, I love the way gold pops when paired with silver that has been oxidized black.
MTB: Tell us about a favorite piece available in your store and why you’re smitten with it.
ASM: I would have to say at the moment, the “Isobel Cuff.” It’s bold, modern, unique, and I love the dramatic effect created by the compilation of all the flattened wires.
MTB: My oh my, I love that one too! Where do you find the greatest inspiration?
ASM: We are a multi-cultural family and I often find inspiration for my jewelry designs in our backgrounds and frequent travels. I’m also strongly influenced by sculptural forms and lines, and shapes found in nature. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be any of these things. I see new designs when I look at a pattern on a rug, a dress, a haircut, or pretty much anything else. When I first started designing, I used to worry about running out of ideas…now I worry about the opposite—having too many ideas and not enough time to bring them to life!
MTB: Tell us what your favorite Rio Grande product is and why.
ASM: The great thing about Rio is that you offer such a wide variety when it comes to both tools and metal. I also love the fact that more and more of your metal is from recycled sources. When it comes to tools, I’m probably just like most metalsmiths—one can never have enough and there’s always something new you’ll covet. One of my recent favorites is the Steel U-Channel Forming Block and Hammer Punches.
Not only is Alysia’s collection of jewelry elegant and irresistible, it’s also impressively large. She’s a prolific artist, with many diverse pieces for sale in her Etsy store, Blue Hour Designs. Check it out!