For Madeline Ellis, it’s always nice knowing that people appreciate how much work goes into one of her handcrafted pieces, as she and her husband Dawson are the sole members of her company Mimosa Jewelry.
“I think knowing all the blood, sweat and tears that go into a piece helps people appreciate where it’s coming from a lot better,” Ellis said.
The name of the company sprung from a memory of Mimosa trees from Ellis’s childhood. During walks with her father, he would pluck flowers from the tree for her, and she recalled loving the scent. Ellis adored Mimosa trees and their flowers so much that even her wedding ring has a Mimosa leaf.
“Whenever it came time to name my business, it just sort of made sense to name it that,” Ellis said.
Ellis has been dabbling in jewelry since her childhood and carried it with her through high school and college where she would collect beads and wire that interested her. After graduation she worked as a landscape architect but took jewelry making classes on the side.
“I just had the need to make stuff at night,” Ellis said.
Her husband’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to sell her jewelry at the arts market downtown, and her business took off, enabling Ellis to quit architecture and focus solely on her jewelry. After several years, her husband was able to quit his job as well to work with his wife.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Ellis said. “We have very different brains in the way they work, and it works well with us.”
The pieces Ellis creates are enjoyed by different demographics, ranging in ages all the way up to 80 years old as well as different countries as far as New Zealand, Singapore, Belgium and Hungary. According to Ellis, anyone who appreciates a handcrafted thing with a story and meaning attached to it will enjoy the pieces from Mimosa Jewelry. And that is what excites her the most about making jewelry, the story behind the piece, whether it’s bereavement jewelry or wedding pieces.
“[I love] things that really have a story; something they’re attached to,” Ellis said. “There’s several pieces that I’ve done…that’s very meaningful because it has someone’s handwriting of someone who passed. It’s a gift to be able to be part of the healing process for somebody.”
For the most part, when she isn’t making a customdesign, Ellis is inspired by the culture around her, whether it’s the physical landscape or just from living in the South.
“I get most of my inspiration from being very observant about where I live,” Ellis said. “I graduated from architecture where we’re trained to have an eye for taking things in because we were designing spaces for people to experience. I had to take in a lot of different layers.”
When it comes to making jewelry, Ellis will grab inspiration from the things around her and will then begin to come up with ideas, which she then puts down on the sketchpad to refine the piece before making it. Once she is satisfied, she creates a cast using wax of the image, a technique Ellis explained was used by the Egyptians and goes at the piece like a sculptor with stone.
“I whittle away at it until it’s just exactly what I want it to be,” Ellis said, who then passes it off to her husband who turns the cast into a metal piece. Bronze, in particular, is a favorite metal for Ellis to work with.
“There’s something about bronze,” Ellis said. “It’s kind of earthy; it kind of reminds me of the Roman Empire and the Bronze Age. It’s an ancient material. I truly love to work with it.”
To care for pieces made by Mimosa Jewelry, Ellis suggests wearing it as much as possible.
“The more you wear it, the cleaner it will continue to be,” Ellis said. “Don’t spray it down with hairspray and avoid harsh chemicals. The more wear it will get, the shinier it will be.”
You can check out Mimosa Jewelry at mimosabyme.com.
Photo by Mike Buck.