Melanie DeLuca's bold jewelry designs of mixed media, plastics and ethnographic objects embody a celebration of her 45 years as a metalsmith, jewelry designer and master teacher. Her interest in jewelry design began early and solidified at 17. By 20, she was apprenticing
for master silversmith Brooks Darrow (himself an apprentice of renowned English architect and master metalsmith Louis Osman). Early work in painting and sculpture informed Melanie's growing connection to the limitless expression of metal through jewelry design and fabrication.
While studying metal arts at San Francisco State University under the tutelage of Tex Geiling,
Melanie began her apprenticeship with Brooks Darrow and soon devoted herself full time to work in his studio. Through Darrow, she honed the basics of casting, fabrication, repousse, hollow form and stone setting and went on to excel in the techniques of chasing, stamping, reticulation, riveting, assemblage, leatherwork and more.
During the 1970's Melanie thrived in the burgeoning studio art jewelry movement, drawing inspiration from the avatars of Avant-garde Modernism such as Earl Pardon, Merry Renk, Peter Macchiarini, and Modernist pioneer Margaret De Patta. "American Modernist jewelry, like the writings of 'beat generation' authors, offered art on the most personal level. It served as emblems for art-loving humanists in an age of alienation." - from Toni Greenbaum's Messengers of Modernism: American Studio Jewelry 1940 - 1960. "In any artistic discipline, breaking down forms and designs to a more minimal skeleton often brings with it a profound clarity, carrying deeper meaning as well", adds Melanie.
In 1975, as a venue for her designs, ethnographic artifacts and multicultural jewelry, Melanie opened Samadhi, a gallery in Burlingame, California. Samadhi became a gathering place for collectors, travelers and traders from around the world. After 15 years she closed Samadhi to work full-time in the studio designing one-off creations.
Melanie's jewelry designs have been greatly influenced by her love of aboriginal peoples, ethnic art, travels to Morocco and the Orient and years of living in the cross-cultural vortexes of the San Francisco Bay Area and the Southwest. Her palette of materials reflects the diversity of her journeys: Sterling silver, high karat gold, copper, bronze, steel, plastics and bone, precious and semi-precious stones, beads, antique tribal and found objects. While each piece of Melanie's jewelry is truly one-of-a-kind, her creations also stand apart as unique pieces of wearable art.
For Melanie beauty often rests in the details and not only in the art of making jewelry, but in life itself; the details of the story behind an ancient artifact, which is given new life through a modern piece of adornment. These ancient details are honored through her craftsmanship and incorporated into yet a new story for the wearer.
Teaching also remains an important part of Melanie's creative life. Feeling strongly about sharing the lineage of her skills and the lineage of tools, Melanie supports the commitment of apprenticeship within her own studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has been a member of the Apprenticeship Alliance and taught at Judah Street Lapidary and Bosco Jewelry Center in San Francisco. Annually in her home Melanie hosts the Santa Fe Jewelers' Salon in the venerable tradition of the artist salons throughout history.
Melanie's designs are exhibited nationally in jewelry and craft galleries and other high-end retail venues. "In the creation of my work," Melanie notes, "I hope to give the wearer the possibility of transformation and a sense of connection and empowerment through the use and combination of ancient materials and contemporary concepts"