Meet Our Vendor: Verso
This vendor is super talented who makes their own paper and then uses that to create their own jewelry! Be sure to go check out Verso at our winter show!
Who are you and what do you do?
Hi I’m Melanie Brauner! I own Verso. I make botanically-inspired jewelry made from waterproofed handmade paper and metal.
The metal is dipped into a pulp of water and finely beaten paper fibers from a plant called abaca. The fibers cling to the metal and shrink as they dry. A tight, translucent paper skin is built up on the form over successive dips. The concept is the same as making a sheet of handmade paper, but around a three-dimensional form, and by building up thin layers over the course of several days.
After a translucent layer of paper has built up, the forms are hand-dyed, and finally heavily sealed to make them water resistant and durable.
The pieces are inspired by the sinuous lines of art nouveau and rococo design, and details found in nature, like seeds, petals, dewdrops, flowers, the curves of a river, ferns, the night sky, leaves, spider webs…..
The production line includes necklaces, earrings, rings, hairpins, and flower crowns,
What’s the latest thing you’ve been working on?
I’ve been making handmade paper lamps! I’m taking the cocoon shape I use in some of my jewelry and making it much larger and lit from inside. One of my galleries and the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art already have them for sale, and I’m hoping to add many more lamp shapes to my website in the very near future. I’m also planning some large botanical wall pieces and smaller shadow boxes.
Any new exciting news you’d like to share with our readers?
This summer, my jewelry was the featured collection in Belle Armoire Jewelry Magazine. They wrote a 12 page article about my process and background, and even put a pair of my earrings on the cover. So exciting!
What do you love most about craft show vending?
As much as I adore my happy hermit time in my studio making things out of a paper and metal, it’s so wonderful to get out in the world with my work and meet people and share what I do with them. My jewelry tends to inspire an emotional response in people, and I love being there to see that happen. I send a lot of work out to stores with my story and process in their hands to tell, so it’s such a huge pleasure to get to tell it myself and meet the people who will be wearing or giving what I do.
How did you get started in your business?
I studied book arts, including papermaking, and metals at Oregon College of Art and Craft, and during that time I worked for a papermaker named Helen Hiebert, and she taught me to work sculpturally with papermaking. Towards the end of my time in school I took a sculptural papermaking workshop with Melissa Jay Craig at a craft school called Penland in North Carolina. It was there that I started exploring ways to use my sculpture ideas and experience in metal and paper to develop jewelry. I made a series of cocoon pieces, and immediately had fellow students asking to buy them from me.
A few years later I was working for a museum publisher and stationery store in downtown Seattle. I did project management, book design, and prototyping on the hand-bound special editions. We had a huge flood in our building that closed us down for two weeks, during a time when I had no jobs I could work on from home. So I used that time to finish developing a handful of paper and metal jewelry ideas into a collection, quickly branded the line, took some photos, made a website and an Etsy shop, and thought that an order or two might trickle in and I’d have a fun hobby. By the time I went back to work, I had several museum gift shops asking to buy the line, and a gallery asking to represent me. About 6 months later I quit my job at the publisher and started making jewelry full time.
Is this a full-time business for you?
Yes! And then some!
Do you follow us Instagram? If you don’t, you should because today you can hop on over there for your chance to win a pair of sterling silver Alyssum Earrings in a color and size of your choice!