Melanie Liles is an art teacher, artist and designer. She has a background in theatre design and has always enjoyed making things since she was a kid. Her personal style is striking: she combines comfort with natural tones and burst of colour. Liles’ personal style trickles into her designs, which are simple, yet contain something bright or unique. The materials that she currently uses for her jewellery line, Plum Tipsy, include pyrite, copper and selenite. Her leather line, Ochre, contains original and custom pieces. I had a chat with Liles about her designs, style and how Edmonton has been an inspiration.
BeatRoute: How did you get started in jewellery design?
Melanie Liles: Crafting! I made myself my first pair of vintage button earrings about seven years ago and a lot of people kept asking me where I got them. I started making them for friends as gifts and then decided to try and sell them at Nokomis, an independent, exclusively Canadian clothing store where I was working at the time. Seeing all of the local designs definitely inspired me.
BR: How has your line Plum Tipsy evolved?
ML: I started off working with vintage and antique charms then discovered rough pyrite at a gem store in Vancouver. I then started incorporating small, rough pyrite stones as charms in some of my pieces. I fell in love with the look of pyrite combined with copper. Copper and pyrite have such richness in tone and can give a piece a more raw, antique look, which is something I’ve always tried to carry through in Plum Tipsy designs. Eventually, I started to explore the magical world of gemstones and became more interested in their textures and sculptural aspects.
BR: What are you wearing today?
ML: A handmade dress, by fellow Edmontonian Malorie Urbanovitch, that I picked it up at the Royal Bison craft fair a couple of weeks ago. She has an amazing sense of style. I’m also wearing a pair of black lace up vintage boots and I’m sporting a Plum Tipsy pyrite necklace.
BR: Can you describe your leather line, Ochre?
ML: Ochre is a line of handmade leather goods. Every piece is tooled, dyed, stained and sewn using remnant pieces of durable vegetable tanned leather and waxed nylon thread. Because of the thickness of the leather, these pieces are meant to soften and stretch over time, giving the owner many years of use. You can check them out on my website (plumtipsy.com) and you can also get them at Barber Ha in Edmonton.
BR: What makes Edmonton stand out to you?
ML: It’s hard to say what makes Edmonton stand out. For me, it’s the people and the tight arts community. People here are generally very welcoming and supportive of each other — this is hard to find in a big city. There is also a lot of untapped territory and, because of that, there’s so much potential for artists and entrepreneurs to explore.
By Jenna Lee Williams