Behind the Scenes with Meltdown Studio Jewelry, Returning Featured Artisan at Holiday Market
Returning from Albuquerque, NM, Lauren Tobey of Meltdown Studio Jewelry is a creative force of nature! Her story is inspiring, her designs are incredible, and her spirit is expansive.
FF: Why did you begin your handmade journey?
MSJ: Since I was tiny, I’ve had the insatiable desire to make things, to work with my hands, to create. I started with beads, clay, string, friendship bracelets, wire twisting, basically ANYthing I could get my hands on. This ultimately let me to metalwork, where my lifelong love affair began…
FF: How did you begin on this path?
MSJ: I began working as a jeweler when I was a teenager, wire twisting accessories for a local Baton Rouge, LA clothing company. On the side, I sold my own handmade items at the local makers’ market. From there, I began working as a metalsmith for an Albuquerque, NM artist, doing fabrication full time.
Ten years ago, I opened Meltdown Studio, Albuquerque’s premier small metals/jewelry making school and open studio workspace. I teach metalsmithing classes and private instruction full time, as well as provide an open studio workspace and permanent jewelers benches to ten other Albuquerque jewelry artists. Creating this space fit a need that I myself had identified, and over the years it has developed into a such a fun, supportive, and creative community, something that makes me infinitely proud!
FF: What lead you to your current line of goods?
MSJ: My current collections represent experiences I have had living in the gorgeous Southwestern desert. As a runner and nature lover, I spend time outside collecting tiny natural treasures: skulls, bones, twigs, pods, minerals. These materials, as well as the expansive landscape, play a huge part in my designs. My goal is to immortalize these natural treasures into wearable art, reminders of the natural beauty that surrounds us every day.
FF: What materials do you work with & why?
MSJ: I work primarily in sterling silver, bronze, and gold. My process includes molding and casting all of my components with the centrifugal casting lost wax method, then fabricating these elements - combined with locally sourced gems and minerals - into comfortable and durable pieces. Turquoise is a huge presence in my work. I am drawn to its immense color palette as well as its historical properties as the universal protector stone. I believe everyone should don a piece of turquoise at all times!
FF: What inspires your work?
MSJ: My work, more than anything, is inspired by the process itself. Working with metal satiates every aspect of my soul as an artist. I love the rigid straight lines of a clean piece of metal, I love the vast transformations molten metal undergoes as it changes temperature and takes on a new form. I love how forgiving metal actually is, and I love the infinite possibilities and dimensions that can come from a seemingly simple material. Metalworking is equal parts perfectionism and creativity, and this fits my personality exactly.
FF: What excites you for the future?
MSJ: Entering into the second decade as a metalsmithing instructor at Meltdown Studio, what excites me is witnessing the thrill my students experience as they solder for the first time, or bend their first ring shank. This energizes me in my own work and process. As an artist, I am excited to discover new friends who love, wear, make, or appreciate this fascinating art form.
Shop and visit with Lauren Tobey of Meltdown Studio Jewelry at Firefly Handmade Holiday Market, December 10 - 11, 10am - 4pm both days, Twenty Ninth Street shopping district , 1710 29th St., Boulder, CO.