Melissa Yarlett - the Wirral jeweller inspired by nature
PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 September 2017
Melissa Yarlett’s jewellery is inspired by her life on the Wirral. Now it’s showing in London, says Janet Reeder.
Melissa Yarlett’s stunning jewellery has an ‘other worldly’ look. It seems like she has foraged plants from another galaxy and set them in silver.
So it comes as something of a surprise to discover that in fact, the 23-year-old’s designs are very much rooted in the familiar landscape of the north west.
With a fascination for growths, lichen and taking inspiration from her love of rock climbing, Melissa makes all her jewellery delicately by hand in a quaint workshop in the back garden of her home in Irby, near Heswall.
She firmly believes in making individual bespoke pieces where no two are the same. She does not use casting or mass production so each and every piece is different, a little piece of nature that you can wear.
Melissa, a former pupil at Pensby High School, did a foundation diploma and went on to study 3D art at the University of Central Lancashire before setting up her business.
‘ My tutors said I should do 3D design, as I was quite good at that, so then I picked a craft course at university which included jewellery, ceramics, furniture anything 3D and just started doing jewellery as it was my favourite area,’ she explains.
‘When I finished university, I started selling things on Etsy, just random pieces I had made at university. I just kept saving up and making more pieces and it went on from there.
As her work gradually evolved, Melissa started to sell at craft fairs (prices start at £20 up to £280 with prices given on application for bespoke pieces) and got her first break when she was accepted at the Great Northern Craft Fair which is held in Manchester every October.
She now sells online and has work in a number of galleries including the Bluecoat in Liverpool, Leeds Craft and Design Centre, Northern Scapes at Manchester Craft and Design Centre, For Art’s Sake in London and the Bessemer2 gallery in Sheffield. She’s recently been working on a commission for the British Museum making a range of necklaces to accompany the Scythians exhibition, which runs from September 14th to January 14th 2018.
‘I put any money I make towards getting new materials to use to make more jewellery,’ she says.
‘My aim is to keep being able to make jewellery and start using gold. I also want to exhibit and get more known and one day, hopefully, get a bigger workshop.’
Being based in her hometown of the Wirral, with the Welsh mountains and rich sandy beaches nearby there is no shortage of inspiration for her work.
Melissa is also a keen rock climber and the natural forms she finds when scaling the peaks in Wales, the Lake District and Scotland that also inspire her work.
‘I am inspired by lichen and moss and growths you find in forests and on mountains. We go climbing and that’s where I have seen the things that I use in the creation of my jewellery,’ she says.
‘I love their forms and the fact they can grow on any material, I find them really interesting’
Melissa has now notched up two years in her business, which she classes as fine jewellery rather than art jewellery because of the materials she uses in her work.
‘I have recently worked on some wedding jewellery and a large statement necklace for a client and I’ve done rings, diamond rings made with different stones and different colours.
‘I just get examples of lichen and other things and design from that and when making it I build it up and just work organically with the materials.’
Melissa currently lives with her parents and has a boyfriend Luke Duckworth who helps her with her shows and when she’s not working she’s enjoying the local life close to home.
‘There’s Thurstason which is a five minute walk away from where I live you can see over the water to Wales from there and there are some nice local pubs, like the Anchor, which I go to the most, she says.
‘Although I don’t really go out to pubs and restaurants that much. I prefer the more natural environment.