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Melissa Montague is a metalsmith who works from her studio in Sheffield, creating gorgeous vessels and other decorative pieces from silver as well as repurposed copper and brass. We are delighted to have chosen a selection of Melissa’s exquisite pieces to feature in AUTHOR’s collection of British made luxury and sustainable furniture and home decor accessories.
From a young age, Melissa always loved making; from cards to candles, earrings to dried flower arrangements, she explored her creativity in any given form. Her maternal grandfather was a farmer and had a passion for metal detecting, which ignited Melissa’s interest and passion for metal. One of the fields on her grandfather’s farm was called the Roman Field as it was a source of many artefacts that her grandfather found. He found coins, tools and most notably a pendant that was later bought by a museum in Lincoln. These findings fascinated Melissa, the beautiful pieces that can be made from metal as well as how long they could last and be rediscovered. This led to Melissa’s desire to work with metal and study metalwork and jewellery, completing a BA (Hons) and later an MA.
In 2016, Melissa participated in the Crafts Council’s Hothouse, a national programme of creative and business support to makers at the start of their careers. This aided Melissa in starting her business and producing her own designs.
To create her pieces, Melissa utilises traditional silversmithing techniques such as hand-hammering, chasing and forging. She produces vessel, shovel and spoon shapes using silver, copper and brass, inspired by old farming tools. Using oxidisation and hammering techniques, Melissa creates beautiful and tactile surfaces to her pieces. Wood and concrete are often used as plinths and bases to encourage the user to display the piece.
Repurposing materials, such as brass and copper from plumbing fittings, plays another role in Melissa’s work. The One Pots are created using copper tubing and the feet on Bowls & Shovels and One Shovel or Two? are made from brass olives, that are typically used as seals in plumbing. Through reprocessing these everyday pieces, Melissa aims to find beauty stating that she loves, “the engineered details in some of the components and how they contrast with the organic forms that I achieve through the hand techniques I use”.
Recently, Melissa has been exploring the idea of function, its meaning and definitions and how it relates to scale. “Some objects are functional and very effective, some are functional but don’t work that well, and some are not functional in any traditional sense, yet still serve a purpose.”
Creating beautiful pieces that work well is Melissa’s aim, which applies to her larger scale items. “My smaller pieces are beginning to explore the meanings of function via ‘affordances’, a concept I discovered while studying. An affordance is a feature that allows you perform an action: so that a button is something you press, a handle is how you pull or pick up something, a knob will be turned, while a spout pours. We seem to be conditioned to recognise such functions, to know what to do when we encounter them. As a result, I am very taken with the idea of a false affordance, a feature that doesn’t perform the action one expects. So much of daily life is spent doing things almost mindlessly, so I find it appealing to encourage the user to re-focus and connect with what is in front of them.”
We love the thought and story telling that goes behind Melissa’s pieces, exploring the sustainability and durability of metal in such a unique way. Her decorative vessels, shovels and spoons are eye-catching, particularly when displayed at eye level on mantelpieces, bookcases and shelves where they can be fully appreciated.
Shop Melissa’s work:
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss a bespoke commission from Melissa.
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