Thursday 12 November 2009

Chameleonite – The Interview

Hi readers, part three of my series of interviews all ready, and I am finding this a lovley little insight into the heads of other crafters each of whom is also running a small business - just like me.

My next chat is with Mel, a self confessed beadaholic. You can find Mel's beautiful jewelry at her store on Etsy.

Now...  you'll be needing a cuppa and a slice of cake to accompany you for this one.

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Introduce yourself a little please...

Mel is short for Melinda. Bit posh...the name that is, not me! The only person ever to call me by my Sunday name is my doctor! Strange really as he doesn't have a surgery on a Sunday!

Before I go any further, I'd just like to say that this interview should be read in a soft lilting Welsh accent... no particular reason, just that it sounds nice and friendly.

I live in a little market town in Lancashire, the birth place of the Industrial Revolution!  A little history lesson there, just in case you were absent from school on that day! Surprisingly I've lived here all my life.  Well, perhaps not so surprising as I'm very much a home bird, nest builder and creature of habit. I'm not very adventurous, but as my 50th birthday was fast approaching... yes, I hit the big 5-0 this year! I know, hard to believe from my photo but it's true!  Anyway, I decided it was high time I spread my wings and did something I'd never done before.  So I went for a little gander around the worldwide web and found myself in Etsy. I thought to myself, "this looks like a nice place". So I opened a little shop, and never left!

[caption id="attachment_168" align="aligncenter" width="430" caption="Just Peachy - Vintage Coral Stack Earrings - by Chameleonite @ Etsy"]Just Peachy - Vintage Coral Stack Earrings - by Chameleonite @ Etsy[/caption]
What is your shop name and how did you come up with it?

I called my shop Chameleonite, mainly because I ran out of ideas, and it was a name I used on other web sites.  I'd originally wanted to use the name Chameleon, but someone had already nicked it. So as Chameleonite was a rare form of the semi precious gemstone Tourmaline due to its ability to change colour under various lighting conditions, I thought it fitting, seeing as I was opening a lighting shop...  I mean a jewellery shop!

What is your favourite item to make and why?

Oh this is a tough one as I enjoy making all kinds of jewellery.  But if I had to choose one favourite, it would be necklaces; especially the beaded chain type I sell in my shop. (insert photo) Adding a few well chosen beads to a simple chain can transform it into something that little bit special.  I enjoy sourcing beads to compliment the focal pendant, either in colour or materials, and spend hours poring over bead catalogues and websites.

If I can be cheeky and choose my second favourite, it would be chainmaille.  I've only recently started making chainmaille jewellery and find it very relaxing and fulfilling to see an intricate design grow bit by bit as the weave takes shape.  Again, I like to incorporate beads into the design... I'm just a bead freak really!

Black-Eyed Susan - Orange Pinwheel Flower Dangle Earrings - by Chameleonite @ Etsy
Can you tell me a little bit about the methods you use.

I don't stick to one particular method of jewellery making. My shop is pretty eclectic in styles and materials used.  I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and I'm always keen to try out every new process I read about.  So  I'm constantly learning and honing new skills. The cost of equipment can be prohibitive, which is no bad thing as it keeps me grounded and stops me jumping from one project to another whilst never actually achieving anything.

As I mentioned before, chainmaille fascinates me and I'd like to practice doing more intricate weaves, possibly even making my own jump rings to weave with. I enjoy working with wire. There's a satisfaction working with raw materials that I don't get from manufactured components.  I've made some of my own ear wires in various designs and also jump rings before, and I hope to introduce soldering into my work to create more design possibilities. Precious Metal Clay (PMC) is another area I would like to expand into. I used to work with Fimo many years ago and enjoyed moulding shapes and imprinting designs onto them with interesting objects often found in nature, to provide interesting textures and patterns; pretty much as people do with PMC.

Kiana - Full Persian Weave Beaded Chainmaille Bracelet - by Chameleonite @ Etsy
What do you love most about your craft?

Taking a few raw ingredients, and turning them, with a little imagination, into something beautiful!  I absolutely love beads of all descriptions, especially vintage beads and anything unusual. Working, or more accurately playing with beads relaxes me and calms my over active mind. I love working to music, and seem to create my most beautiful pieces whilst listening to Melody Gardot. I sing along too, so each and every piece I make has a little bit of my soul along with a big helping of love and lots of care!  Add to that a sprinkling of laughter while I chat on the Etsy UK chat thread, and who wouldn't envy spending their days doing what they love!

Raspberry Rouge - Vintage Red Beaded Bracelet - by Chameleonite @ Etsy
What do you find most challenging about your craft?

The thing I find the most challenging, is finding the cash to fund the purchase of expensive equipment.  There is so much I want to do, so many techniques I want to try out, and materials I want to work with, and so little spare cash to buy the essential equipment needed. My other biggest challenge is trying to resist the urge to strive for  perfection, because there really is no such thing.  But I am a perfectionist to an obsessive degree, and I do struggle with recognising and accepting when my best is good enough, and leave it at that!

Harmony Blues - Vintage Blue Bead and Silver Bracelet - by Chameleonite @ Etsy
What else do you like to do with your time?

I start every single morning - bar Saturday 'cos that's my pain au Chocolat and coffee, skive off dog walking day... with a lovely refreshing walk in the local countryside with my dog Bailey.  He's a yellow Labrador I rescued from the local kennels.  My son walks him on a Saturday, but every other day, come rain or shine we go for a walk to one of several country parks where we meet our doggy friends... that's doggy friends, not dodgy friends!  It really is a great way to start the day.  It might not feel like it when I first drag myself out of bed and it's pouring with rain, but once out there, even walking in the rain has its beautiful moments!

Owning a dog is a fantastic way to make friends.  We all know each other, stop for a chat, and laugh at the antics of our dogs. Even the ones who don't know me usually say a cheery 'hello".  They're a friendly lot dog walkers! We even organise an annual dinner event where we get a chance to kick off our muddy wellies and change into our posh gear.

I also enjoy writing and used to run a writers' circle... yes, we actually sat in a circle! I'm also a bit of a drama queen and have  been known to tread the boards with a local amateur theatre company, something I haven't done for a while and would very much like to take up again, time permitting.

Popsicle - Vintage Turquoise and Red Teardrop Earrings - by Chameleonite @ Etsy
Anything else you want the people to know about your shop?

I enjoy doing custom orders and working with the buyer to design something from an idea they have in mind. Saves me having to think up something of my own! Seriously, all I need is a spark to fire up my imagination, and away I go!  I really enjoy bouncing ideas around. So if there's something in my shop you like but isn't quite what you were looking for, feel free to drop me a line and I'll see what I can do.

Do you have anything special in your shop for the holiday season?

Funny you should ask that. I haven't as yet, but as it happens I did come up with an idea tonight whilst doing my shopping.  But I'm keeping it under wraps for now.  Just keep an eye on my shop, that's all I'm saying!

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Well I hope you enjoyed our little Chat with Mel as much as I did, I will be keeping an eye on her shop to see what beauties she comes up with in the coming weeks for sure.

Much of her truly gorgeous jewelry is OOAK (one of a kind) and uses vintage beads. So if you fall in love with it you best make it yours before someone else does.

Enjoy having a look around Mel's shop, she'll be happy to have you over, I'm sure.


  1. what a brilliant read - cham is quite a giggle :D i have some of her earrings and they are just lovely - so nicely made. the chainmaille pieces in her shop are super too; she must have the patience of a saint to make those!!

  2. I enjoyed reading this. I cheered me up on a dismal morning.
    I don't have any of Mel's pieces yet but there is a pair (oh ok lots of pairs) that I have my eye on. And she brightens up the UK thread with her great sense of humour.

  3. Thanks for doing such a great job of my interview! Gosh, I do go on a bit, don't I! :D

  4. Love the interview, lots of lovely little snippets into the Life Of Cham!


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