Writer, designer, teacher, gardener – all of these describe Australian artist Myléne Hilliam. Myléne’s curiosity and enthusiasm have led her to a career that spans from working with leather to teaching young children how to work with resin. Read on to learn more about how Myléne (pronounced ‘Mill-lane’ as in Mill Lane Studios, which she owns) got started in the industry, what she loves about teaching others and her “have no boundaries” approach to making jewelry.
How did you get started in the world of jewelry?
It really came about by accident about 8 years ago. I was on the design team for an Australian manufacturer of silicone molds called Krafty Lady and we were asked to create jewelry from the casts that we made from the molds. And that’s how it started. I started out creating mixed media jewelry and eventually my jewelry has become more mainstream.
In addition to making jewelry, you’re also the author of books. How did that come about?
I’ve been traveling to the Craft & Hobby Association show for about 7 years and had made a connection with Fox Chapel Publishing. I had pitched an idea to them and they liked it, but at that time they weren’t publishing jewelry making books. So it took a few years for the book to come to fruition.
What was your first book about?
It was all about leather jewelry. Not your standard leather jewelry such as wrap bracelets but more upmarket, non-traditional leather jewelry. It’s colorful and can be worn to work or for special occasions. It’s a bit different.
What was the inspiration for your latest book Fabulous Jewelry From Findings, which uses things such as lobster clasps and bead caps to create jewelry?
I like to look at things from a different perspective. I like to look at the shapes of materials I’m working with and see what components can be used for other than what they were originally intended for. I was working on a project with bead caps and when they were arranged they took on the shape of a bottle. From there I started playing with more bead caps and my findings crept into it and a whole book happened!
What excites you most about teaching classes at your studio?
I get excited because they’re excited. Seeing the joy across their faces helps me have as much fun as they are having learning. That’s the best part about teaching; it’s what I get from them as much as what I give them.
Do you think you need special skills to make jewelry?
I think anyone can make jewelry and I think that’s the way it is with all crafts. I don’t think you have to have a level of skill to be able to learn to do something really, really good.
I’ve taught 4 and 5 year olds how to make resin jewelry. That’s one of the most exciting classes I’ve ever taught because they had no creative boundaries whatsoever. They just needed a little bit of guidance. But by the end of the workshop I did with them, they produced fantastic pieces of jewelry that their mums would have absolutely loved. Not just because their children made them but also because they actually looked really good.
So I don’t think you need to have a high level of skill to do anything. Let those creative juices just happen. Have no boundaries.
What’s your favorite medium to work with?
I actually have two. The first is leather. I really like it because it’s natural and organic. You can do a lot with it that is unusual so the jewelry looks different.
Licorice Allsorts Resin Bangle Stack
My other love is resin. I really enjoy working with resin, especially teaching the resin workshops. I love to teach my bangle and ring workshop because most people don’t think it’s something they can do themselves. They think, “oh that’s manufactured.” But when they learn how to make a bangle or a resin ring themselves, they’re blown away.
Is there a medium of art that you’re interested in trying but haven’t yet?
I would like to work with dichroic glass (glass which displays two different colors through color change in different lighting conditions) and I’m quite interested in silver clay (clay which has small particles of silver). Whether of not I’ll ever find time to do these is another matter!
Peacock Hair Comb
How does OttLite help you in your studio?
I couldn’t make my jewelry without my OttLite. I have really good natural light in my studio but most of the time I’m working in the middle of the night. I’m a bit of a night owl and it’s nice and quiet in the house at night. I just couldn’t do it without the OttLite. It gives me true colors for making the jewelry so I know that my colors are working really well together.
But it’s more than just that. I use OttLite for all my photography as well. Without the Ottlite I’ve got competing color sources of light and the OttLite gives me true daylight so my photos end up being really good . . . if I do say so myself!
When you’re not working on art, what do you enjoy doing?
I have a garden that I love. Because I live in a warm climate everything grows so quickly. I don’t have a lot of time to spend in the garden, but I do enjoy the time outside in the sun.
How can readers learn more about you or get in contact with you?
They can visit my website
, which also has my blog posted on it, or they can connect with me through Facebook
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2 years 361 days ago
Fantastic interview, congrats! Myléne's designs are so beautiful! I have met her through Facebook, she is so inspiring as a jewelry designer and such a delightful lady, full of positive energy and so kind!
2 years 127 days ago
Thanks for those kind words Theano. It has been wonderful getting to know you through Facebook.