We are swooning over EVERY piece of jewelry from the next maker in our series presented by American Express. Meet Melody Shirazi of Isobell Designs. Her collection is full of bold pieces we want to wear everyday. Oh, and her Oakland studio is pretty rad too (just check out this video for proof). Luckily, Isobell Designs will be joining us at Re:Make SF… THIS weekend! Register for free today and then read on for Melody’s story!
First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Melody Shirazi and I am the creative behind Isobell Designs. A one-woman operation: I design it, make it, photograph it, pack it, ship it, and I’m grateful to spend my time doing what I love. When I’m not making, I love to drink tea, cuddle with my cat, and live life as it is intended to be lived: fully.
Why did you decide to start Isobell Designs?
Initially, I was attracted to jewelry more as a hobby than as a form of artistic expression. However, the transition from hobby to career was surprisingly easy! It allowed me to be wildly creative. I was quickly hooked on metal working processes and soon realized Isobell Designs is where my love for making and my background in photography and graphic design meet.
In five words or less, tell us why you love to make.
I love to experiment.
What does the making process look like for you?
It all begins with getting out, and getting inspired. The inspirations then transfer to my sketchbook where they take form in sketches and photos. From there, I take to the studio, actualizing them into tangible pieces. The material I am currently working with began as vintage components or stock metal in the form of pipes, sheet, or wire. Using traditional hand tools—hand saw, files, hammers, torch—along with a drill, I turn these materials into wearable objects by sawing, hammering and soldering. I do my best to make sure all of my metal, chain, and other components are milled domestically here in the USA.
What’s your favorite thing about jewelry making?
Culturally, jewelry holds so much power. Pieces are inherited, collected and worn for protection. My favorite part about jewelry making is taking something and turning it into wearable art. It feels almost alchemistic.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Being Persian and a Californian lends itself to a lot of inspiration. My love for the land I’ve grown up in is a constant source of gems and patterns. In particular, architecture from the twenties still stands out to me for its geometric elements and simple design. These sources, coupled with the individual styles of the closest friends, move me to create wearable pieces that inspire confidence.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
Embrace the natural imperfections. I constantly remind myself of this while designing new pieces; and it helps me stay grounded. Now, I pass it on to you.
What other creative hobbies do you have?
My degree is in fine art photography and graphic design, so when time allows, I continue to cultivate these hobbies and/or incorporate them into the brand. Creative hobbies I take up seem to make their way into Isobell Designs in some form or another. Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time working with fiber and ceramics, so keep an eye out for them!
What’s up next for you?
This fall, we are debuting a new home decor line to go alongside the jewelry. It includes weavings, fiber art and wall hangings. I’m really excited about it! From there, I plan to keep up the momentum by coming up with new ideas, making new pieces, exploring what people respond to, and improving the quality of the things I make.
Have you fallen in love with Melody yet? Then don’t forget! She’ll be joining us at Re:Make SF on September 13th! Stop by Fort Mason to check out her jewelry.
This series is a collaboration with American Express. Visit the Shop Small® website to learn about how you can take part in Shop Small, a movement to celebrate small business.