When I first contacted Melitina Balabin for an interview, she was on a little island in Estonia, and had to travel 45kms for internet.
It made me stop and think, and it reminded that in this age of global communications and seemingly instant connection with everywhere, that the world is really a big place, and my little farm near Wagga Wagga is a very long way from a sunny island in Northern Europe.
Melitina is actually Finnish, and lives in South-Karelia near the border of Russia. She loves travelling to Estonia to visit with friends and relishes the peace of the sea and nature.
This love of nature translates into her work readily, and birds, flowers, and animals live in amongst the rocks and pools in her jewellery pieces. She is also inspired by other quiet places, especially old buildings where nobody lives any more, and little decorative motifs informed by old wallpaper and furniture can also be found.
Her shapes are simplistic but often include complex detail; textures are gorgeously subtle, and her favourite materials are oxidised silver and gold leaf. Many of her pieces are like little story boxes, with multiple elements that each have their own bit to say.
She spent her childhood in St. Petersburg (her father, Nikolai, is Russian) and remembers it as a vibrant and happy place, filled with artists and creative people. She has been a maker ever since she was tiny, and has wonderful childhood memories of helping her jeweller-father in his workshop. Her mother (Marianne Balabin) is also a well-known painter in Finland.
She says she feels incredibly lucky to be able to work full-time creating things that people like and want. She loves that “people can find happines, joy and inspiration from my works.” But the best thing for her is working with her parents in the family business. “It’s at the same time really hard and funny.” And her only regret is a very common complaint amongst creative people, “My main problem is how to get more hours in day…time is just running too fast!”
You can find more of Melitina’s work on her website here, and you can also link to Nikolai’s and Marianne’s work from there as well – they are definitely work checking out too!
With thanks to Melitina for sharing her words and images.