Welcome to my artistic jewelry inspiration series. Weekly on Muse Mondays, check in to see what is catching my eye. The goal is to nourish my own artist muse by following wherever she leads with amazement and study, but I’ll gladly share with you. Today’s artist is sculptural jeweler Melinda Risk.
Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will. – George Bernard Shaw
With my recent forays into ceramic sculpture, I’m very intrigued by sculptural jewelry, such as that of artist Melinda Risk. Working in a range of media, including fine and base metals, gemstones, porcelain, enamel, wood, resin and bone, she brings a whimsical and intriguing approach to her jewelry.
Inspired by small and precious things, she makes tiny wearable sculptures in striking categories such as doll rings and skull jewelry.
Although Melinda studied Jewelry Metals at Kent University, she is self taught in ceramics. She creates tiny porcelain dolls, painting them individually, for her Kewpie Doll series. Each one is different, with personalities and narratives ranging from Mermaid Rider to Butterfly Rider to Wolf Boy to Fortune Teller.
Doll Rings by Melinda Risk
Similarly, each of the skull rings is one-of-a-kind, with its own decorative details and personality.
They range from simpler to more ornate and detailed.
There are other rings as well, stunning in concept and detail. Each is a small treasure which tells an individual story, but fits into the larger overall story of the artist’s work.
Hearts feature in a number of pieces, along with angels, fantastic creatures like mermaids and valkyries, and woodland animals.
Although the rings are standouts, there is of course other jewelry as well.
Melinda’s jewelry is an artist’s dream combination of media. With a degree in jewelry metals and self-taught in ceramics, the combination of porcelain and metal allows a beautiful range of dimension and surface. Strong, translucent porcelain is often used to sculpt fairly simple silhouettes, such as the kewpie doll heads, which are then painted with fine details. These are mounted inside tubular rings that provide further decoration and protection.
Hand carving waxes to cast is one way that the artist produces heavily detailed and original surface designs. She also incorporates fine granulation and occasionally enamel for color. Stones are set as both main and supporting features, in a range of styles including flush settings, bezels, and tube settings.
Most pieces combine metals, often silver with high karat gold, but also bronze or copper for color, and sometimes unusual materials such as wood and resin. This gives the work a wide range of color, even before the addition of alternative materials. Stones appear in both starring and supporting roles, flush set or bezel set.
The artist seems to have a huge repertoire of technical skills upon which to draw to construct whatever narrative she chooses to pursue. Thus the work emphasizes story, and the technical details are subordinate to the artistic concept. However, the work is constructed meticulously, as befits heirloom jewelry.
As a maker, I strive to analyze why I’m drawn to certain art and how it might help me move my own work forward. So, I’ve searched through the collections of Melinda Risk’s images, seeking enlightenment and jewelry inspiration. What ideas can I use to jump off into my future work?
First off, it’s very unusual, original, unlike other jewelry. It’s definitely art to wear. Each piece tells a story, so you are drawn into exploring all the tiny details. I want to pick each one up, turn it over and over and find all its hidden secrets. The work is playful, not too perfect, but beautifully and artistically crafted. I can tell that the artist made each piece what it needed to be, with no thought to how many hours of labor were required. I get too concerned about the price of work, and I need to let those worries go.
Technically, I love this jewelry because I, too, love many media and have grand ideas about mixing them together. This artist has done that so very well, and inspires me to revisit those ideas of my own. I am very drawn to tiny and to loads of detail, so these pieces also speak to that attraction.
My recent week of wax carving was really exciting, but I haven’t picked it up yet in my home studio. This work is telling me again to get those tools out and begin. I don’t know where it’s all going, but I need to explore that direction more seriously.
Over and over, the gold calls to me. I did use some 22k gold in my studio work this week, so I’m slowly moving past my hesitation. I have to learn to use it well, and there’s really no way to do that besides to proceed ahead. I have to remind myself that mistakes can always be reclaimed!
Since discovering Melinda’s work, I’ve been thinking very hard about my ceramics sculpture and how I can pull elements of it into my jewelry. I always knew that was part of my desire in beginning the ceramics explorations, and now I need to actually try it. I also want to revisit my small enamel on glass cabochons. And of course, RINGS are calling me hard, after never being interesting in the past.
I have this voice in my head that says I need to work more with narrative. That has been a good outcome of the ceramics work, as well, where I’ve learned build a story as the piece unfolds. Complexity helps me with that, as I don’t start with a story, but create it as I go. I need to make more complex jewelry to allow more time for the story in each piece to speak its story to me.
My Melinda Risk Pinterest board
Melinda Risk website
Melinda Risk Instagram