P & H Pick | Introducing Jewelry Designer Melissa Skarsten

At Patina & Hue we love to have conversations with amazing women who have great style and inspire us all. For this reason I am excited to feature our latest artist–designer— Melissa Skarsten—a longtime friend and talented jewelry designer who mixes metals and infuses expressions of natural elements into her work. A couple of months ago I stopped by Melissa's studio to see her latest jewelry and discovered she was making 100 new one-of-a-kind pieces for the upcoming Park City Arts Festival. Melissa is both prolific in her work and dedicated to uninterrupted time in her studio so I was delighted to see what she was planning for the arts festival to share with all of you. Scroll down to see some of her fabulous pieces and to read more:

Tree of Life Series  |  Tree & Tahitian Pearl  |   Sterling silver with 18K gold leaves and a black Tahitian pearl drop.

Tree of Life Series  |  Tree & Tahitian Pearl  |  Sterling silver with 18K gold leaves and a black Tahitian pearl drop.

Images above clockwise from top right: His-Hers River Rings (River Series) Sterling silver, Her ring is set with a yellow Citrine gemstone  | Fall Acorn Earrings & Leaves (Acorn series) Earrings are torched enameled copper with green jasper bead. Leaf Pendant is torched enameled copper on a oxidized sterling silver chain.  |  Ring Box (Twig series) Hand turned wooden box with a sterling silver twig pull.  |  Twigs Rooted Necklace (Tree of life series) Sterling silver with a Chrysoprase gemstone.

Twig Hair Comb  (Twig series) Sterling silver

Twig Hair Comb (Twig series) Sterling silver

Top left: River Cuff links & Box(River series) Oxidized sterling silver with 14K gold cufflinks in a wooden box with a sterling silver twig pull.
Top right: River Bracelet (River series) Oxidized sterling silver with 14K gold bracelet slide on leather.

Melissa's Signature Style  |   Golden Citrine Flower |  Black and Gold series | Oxidized sterling silver and 14K gold pendant set with a yellow Citrine gemstone

Melissa's Signature Style  |  Golden Citrine Flower | Black and Gold series | Oxidized sterling silver and 14K gold pendant set with a yellow Citrine gemstone

Peruvian Opal Ring  (Twig series) Sterling silver with a Peruvian opal set in 22K Gold.

Peruvian Opal Ring (Twig series) Sterling silver with a Peruvian opal set in 22K Gold.

Men's River cufflinks in a handmade wooden box with silver twig  |  Available at the Gala Auction Event Thursday, July 30th.  Click here  to learn more about the Opening night gala Fundraiser / Fashion Show at the Montage, Deer Valley.  

Men's River cufflinks in a handmade wooden box with silver twig  |  Available at the Gala Auction Event Thursday, July 30th. Click here to learn more about the Opening night gala Fundraiser / Fashion Show at the Montage, Deer Valley.  

Q: Melissa, I know from our conversations that you derive a great deal of creative inspiration from being outdoors. How does that directly inform your work?
A; "The natural world is always pulling at me…. to slow down, to step outside and experience the “mystery within nature”—my work celebrates what I experience in those moments. To be more specific, old-growth forests fascinate me. As I was developing my distinct visual voice, memories from an extraordinary visit to a coastal redwood forest kept appearing, inspiring the textures and color palettes I began using. More important, it was the emotions I felt when standing in that primeval forest I started to capture in different pieces, and an organic elegance and sense of antiquity showed up in my work."

"...it was the emotions I felt when standing in that primeval forest I started to capture in different pieces, and an organic elegance and sense of antiquity showed up in my work."

Q: It must take a great deal of time to create one-of-a-kind pieces. What can you tell us about that process:
A: "Pieces can take days or even weeks. My work is done in a spontaneous manner, an idea may be scribbled out as a starting point, but materials and techniques guide the work into a finished piece. This evolutionary process keeps my creative thoughts flowing."

"To propagate this evolution of a design, I make one-of-kind pieces, each piece inspiring the next. Serial imagery or what I like to call the “kaleidoscope effect” is where I take a piece and redesign it…. and like the turn of the kaleidoscope, the variations are endless. By making one-of-a-kind pieces, I emulate nature and promote our individuality as humans, which I find a breath of fresh air in a world of mass produced, identical products."

"The ancient technique of granulation is perfect for creating organic texture.  For my river series, I use a torch to fuse tiny grains of gold and raised lines of silver onto the metal surface of the piece. I then expand the technique by flowing melted gold in and around the applied textures. To achieve the rich color palette, I oxidize the piece a deep black to illuminate the gold. For my botanical pieces, the gemstones and the metal finishes I choose, allow me to express the dance of movement that light, mist and breeze create in the forest."

Q: When did you start making jewelry?
A: "I was drawn to artistic mediums that were very hands-on and fell in love, almost immediately, with metal-smithing while in high school. I later went to on study at The Revere Academy in San Francisco where I became a traditionally trained goldsmith and for a brief time I worked as a bench jeweler. The lure of creating a life in which I was a working artist led me out of the commercial marketplace to open my own studio in 2007. The arts and crafts marketplace is a perfect fit for the type of creative work I do and fits with my lifestyle."

Q: I've noticed that some women feel if they are wearing one color of gold, or other metal such as silver that they are hesitant to mix it up with their jewelry or metallic accents on their shoes and handbags. Your work has a lovely intermingling of different types and colors of metals. What would you say to someone who might be concerned about wearing their rose gold along side of their silver or white gold? 
A: "Yes, I love combining different colors of metals into my work and I do know that years ago it was considered chic to keep your metals all the same color. But time has changed that concept—now women, and men alike can layer on different metals into one look and feel confident about doing so....I would say have fun with your jewelry, toss the old rules out as anything goes these days!"


Melissa was raised in Pasadena California, moved to Santa Barbara, then San Francisco, before landing in the mountain town of Park City, Utah with her husband and daughter. You can see more of her work on her website by clicking here or at the upcoming Park City Arts Festival, July 31-August 2, 2015. 

Thank you Melissa for taking the time to share your beautiful work with us. Click here to learn more about the Park City Arts Festival. email: mskarsten@comcast.net website: Jewelrybym.com

Patina & Hue: Favorite Books for summer reading

Between design projects and blogging this summer I've been trying to make more time to read for enjoyment, not my typical mode as I often default to books that can teach me something. This habit of needing to learn something when I read started in college and I've had a hard time shaking it! But it is summer and I love the idea of sitting quietly with a cup of tea and reading for fun. Over the last couple of months there have been a few books that have really stood out for me and I wanted to mention them in this post.

When I first heard about the WWII novel All the Light We Cannot See I was concerned I would have a difficult time getting into a book set in Europe during WWII. There seems to have been quite a few books centered around wartime lately and I was looking for lighter reading. But several people mentioned how good it was so I decided to give it a chance. It turned out to be one of the best books I've read in a long while. The way the author—Anthony Doerr—reveals the story line is non-linear and unexpected. All the Light is charming and magical while simultaneously bringing the reader into the lives of those experiencing the atrocities surrounding war. He writes in such a way that the reader grows to care about the lives of the characters—making it impossible to put the book down once you begin. This is without a doubt a new favorite.

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron first came out in the early 90s and has been reprinted repeatedly. I attempted to go through the exercises many years ago but at that time I was working three jobs and didn't give it the attention it deserved. So when my good friend Gincy facilitated a 12 week workshop last spring that took the class through the process I was happy to sign up. I wasn't sure at first what to expect as I needed to make time to meet once a week, complete one to two small exercises and write "morning pages" each and every morning before my day began. During the 12 week process I did feel there were highs and lows. Or at least weeks that seemed less significant in what I had accomplished than others.

To my own surprise I got a great deal out of this book and process! Although I would have to admit that this book fits into my habit of reading to learn something I did find that the process works. Some of my fellow class mates who had not explored art or did not they consider themselves artists also commented that they benefitted from the process. 

A few things that really stand out about this book: 

1. One of the exercises involved writing a letter to your future self— at age 80—from the vantage point of the age you are right now. This was a great exercise for me. I have a very good imagination and easily imagined myself living in a tropical climate with a light filled studio, I was happy and healthy and I imagined everyone in my life was also thriving. I told myself —the current me— to relax and worry less. That it was all going to work out. Apparently the future me is quite optimistic. ;-) There are quick exercises like this one each week that help you to think differently or explore ideas you may have never explored. 

2. Artist dates: every week you are asked to take yourself out on a date by yourself. I found myself in Sam Weller's Used and Rare Bookstore, in junk stores, in consignment shops, art supply stores and taking "down-time" that I don't normally give myself permission to take. Part of this process is to go out and do something with no agenda and allow yourself to play. 

3. Morning Pages: I love getting up early in the morning when everyone is still asleep. Waking up about an hour before everyone else I got in the habit of making myself an almond milk latte, sitting down with pen and paper— enjoying the light and stillness of early morning. Starting a practice of writing for 30 minutes to an hour each day has been an interesting exercise. At first I found myself not knowing what to write. But the book guides you to keep going and eventually I saw that my writing moved toward my creative interests. I recommend this book to everyone—no matter what you do for a living. You need not be a painter or sculptor to find your artistic self. 

** In the spirit of art making please jump onto Patina & Hue/Growing Bolder to read about inspirational artist, poet and speaker Kristen Jongen of Soul Soup. We will be giving away two books and one of her prints so don't forget to enter the drawing. Read more about the giveaway at the bottom of my interview with Kristen. 


I just finished The Girl on the Train and I am really curious what other people think of this book? It was a quick read and everyone I know seems to be reading it right now. I don't want to say too much about it and give anything away. It is a fast-paced murder mystery that takes you inside the heads of the characters....until you realize you want out! If you are reading this book I would love to hear what your thoughts are on it. 

I just started Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, by Jennifer Chiaverini and will let you know what I think of it next month. 
If you are reading a great book or have a favorite book you would like to tell us about please do so in the comments section below! We would love to hear from you.

Jump on to Patina & Hue Facebook and tell us what you think of the books you are reading and any books you recommend! Hope you are finding time to relax and enjoy a good book this summer!





1970s Denim Revival + Metallic Accents

I love that designers are finding merit in bringing back trends from the 70s. As a baby boomer I look back fondly at music, cars, furniture, and clothing from that era as it feels nostalgic and familiar. From a style perspective it seems newly relevant. I remember sporting jean shirts with denim bell bottoms (back in the day) and feeling good about it! That was decades ago and over the last number of months I’ve seen this long forgotten trend reappear. Not everything that is back in style is on my must have list however. I  am saying “NO!” to EVER wearing culottes again and “Never!” to several other trends like see-through dresses and enormous polka dots! There are so many amazing style trends this spring and summer like blue & white, white-on-white, safari, color blocking and gingham to name a few that will outlast the more trendy alternatives.

One staple that I’ve loved for years and highly recommend is the shirtdress—it is casual yet sophisticated. You can belt it to highlight your waist or wear it without a belt and let it hang more like a shift. I appreciate the structured shoulders and like the idea of a shirt sleeve that can be rolled up. There are many designs and styles to choose from and if you find one you love but feel like it is too short, wear it as a tunic with a slim pant or leggings. Accessorizing with metallics like longer necklaces dresses it up a little and this look is lovely with a casual straw handbag or espadrille wedge.

Last year we wrote about ways to wear boyfriend jeans (see the article: Fear No Denim: Boyfriend Jeans) and received texts and emails from women stating that they thought this was a trend for 20 somethings and they were excited to give it a try. Although the fashion world is indeed youth-centric I don’t let that stop me from finding what works for me and then having fun. Boyfriend jeans are comfortable, casual and completely appropriate for women of all ages.

Above you will see a Denim Revival + Metallics trend board that I put together. It includes a couple of shirt dresses and some fun jewelry and shoes. All of this is inspiration for a look that is easy to wear and with these pieces in mind you can get this look by “shopping your closet” first and then shop for any remaining items you still need.  Additionally, you can click on the images above and they will link you to the shopping site.

If you love the 70s as much as I do send me a note and tell me your favorite item from that time period. I’d love to hear from you on one of my favorite topics!

 If you have a  moment jump over to the Patina & Hue 1970s Pinterest board!

Thank you for reading,