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Melissa Banks

Medium: Jewelry

Booth #: LN15

Artist bio: I combine both new and traditional patterns of chainmaille with contemporary decorative elements and a modern, edgy design sensibility. A significant focus of my work lies in the contrast, and then the blending together of the masculine and feminine. I love to create jewelry that is elegant while also being strong, bold, and empowering.

The predominant material of my work is stainless steel. I patiently build the chainmaille components of each piece link by link. This is done by opening and closing individual links while weaving them together in a specific pattern. If a piece has any length of chain in the design, each chain is painstakingly measured and cut so that the design lays properly on the wearer, with placement, weight, and gravity playing major roles. The end result is a piece of jewelry that is fluid, tactile, soft, and comfortable, as it conforms to the curves of your body. I also create form and structure in some pieces with a micro-pulse-arc welder, which essentially fuses the metal.

At an early age, I was inspired by the tribal cultures I would see in my parents’ National Geographic magazines. I would page through the issues and seek out photos of tattoos, body modification, and exotic jewelry. I am also inspired by the punk and glam rock movements, the Art Deco style of the 20s-40s, and the Victorian era.

After receiving my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Crafts/Metals from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 1996, I started my business, Rapt in Maille in August of 2000. I've been exhibiting at various juried art fairs around the country ever since, building a loyal customer following both in-person and online.

Artist Statement: I work exclusively in stainless steel, with chainmaille being the primary theme. I weave links by opening & closing each one to form various patterns. Chain is measured, hand-cut, & attached, working with gravity to create form, drape or fringe. I also create form & set stones with a micro-welder.
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