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Jewelry as art, Q&A with Melanie Nakaue

me & puffin

Melanie Nakaue is the artist and maker behind our newest collection of limited edition jewelry exclusively on Poketo. We met Melanie originally through working with us here at the studio, awesomely volunteering her time helping us out on special projects we have slated this year! An established artists and educator, Melanie melds her fine art into jewelry through a project called Friends of Similar Size. Melanie designed these awesome clay necklaces, the Poketo identity colorways mixed by hand and created exclusively for Poketo.

Clay Necklace-Melanie Nakaue for Poketo

You describe yourself as an artist, writer, designer and educator. Is your general philosophy for each the same or how do you view each?

I believe all of these to be a function of who I am as an artist. My writing and design work operate as an extension of my art practice, and I view my teaching the same way as well. All of these different elements share a similarity in that they are a exploration of conceptual ideas embedded in formal strategies.


How did you get into making jewelry? Is it an extension of your fine art or something totally different?

I’ve always had a love for jewelry, since it combines things I am interested in: sculpture, design and fashion. I’ve had a lot of ideas of how jewelry could function as small sculptures, so a few years ago I took an introductory jewelry making class and it just took off from there.

My jewelry line (FRIENDS OF SIMILAR SIZE) is in direct correlation with my own art practice, and I consider each collection as a new body of work that deals with a specific thematic concept and formal strategy.

studio 2

Give us an idea of what kind of work and thought go into each necklace?

For the Poketo necklace collaboration, the most essential element is color. I have to consider how each color will work with one another to create an interesting composition. Each color of clay is mixed separately until it matches the specified Poketo logo color combinations. After that, each link is sculpted and shaped by hand and assembled individually.


Where is your studio? Tell us what a normal day looks like for you.

I currently live with my husband (an artist and filmmaker) and two dogs in a bright and airy live/work space in Los Angeles. My studio is located here as well, which makes things very convenient, since I work on my projects during different times of the day, especially at night.

A typical day for me involves juggling a lot of different elements: teaching, art making, jewelry design. I have to work on many different things at once to stay on track, but I also enjoy this way of working since it helps me make connections to things that I wouldn’t have considered otherwise.

Any projects coming up that you are excited about and that you can share?

I will be participating in The Artist Tower of Protest, part of Pacific Standard Time and in collaboration with LAXart. I also have an upcoming solo exhibition at the Harris Art Gallery at the University of LaVerne in 2013.

puffin & pocky

On a personal note, you have two adorable doggies. We of course instantly bonded with you because of your little guys. Tell us more! Do they hang with you as you work?

As you know, I love my dogs! They are both rescue dogs. Pocky is around 11 years old and is a Tibetan Spaniel. She is very regal and wise. Puffin, is 3 years old and is a fun loving Japanese Chin. Both Pocky and Puffin are always with me when I am working, and you can find echoes of them in my own work as well and they really enable me to see and experience things in new ways, and I am forever grateful.

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