As a child, Melissa Crim’s cousin dubbed her Melefant, a sweet nickname that has become her brand of colorful, one-of-a-kind jewelry. This West Virginia native found herself working as an English teacher in Spain, where she fell in love with her now-husband, Javi, a marine ecologist. Melissa began creating jewelry as a hobby and creative outlet eight years ago while in Spain, and started Melefant last year on Cape Cod.
What inspired your unique lace creations?
I started to experiment with found and recycled materials such as fabric, lace, leather, and paper. Out of all of my experiments, people really seemed to respond to the lace pieces. In the beginning I only used machine-made lace that I purchased at traditional Spanish mercerias (small, family-owned sewing notions shops). After a friend traveled home for the holidays to France and returned with a bag of her great-grandmother’s exquisite handmade crocheted doilies for me to transform into jewelry, I was able to create not just earrings, but bracelets and necklaces, as well, and the history of the items added a new and deeper meaning to the work. From there, I began working with other families to create custom items with their crocheted heirlooms.
Why do you love most working with lace?
I love the stories about the original creators of the items. These women were incredibly skilled artists, and I feel honored that their descendants trust me to transform their family heirlooms into something new that will be shared with others. Each piece that I create has a story, and my customers often find special connections to the origins of the items.
How do you find your materials?
I obtain vintage lace and crochet items (curtains, tablecloths, doilies, etc.) through donations, buying secondhand, or bartering custom work with families, which is by far my favorite! I will accept any type of crochet or lace item as long as it is suitable for jewelry, and preferably if there is a story to go along with the piece! I like to educate my clients as to the origins of each item, whether machine or handmade. All of the pieces are meticulously stiffened, cut and hand-painted using techniques I have developed over four years and based on my formal education as a painter.
What’s your most enjoyable Cape Cod day?
As a fairly new resident on the Cape, I’d have to say exploring! My husband and I love checking out all of the beautiful small towns and spectacular beaches the Cape has to offer. We love our new life on the Cape!