Melanie Jorden of Meljo Made Embroidery, one of the handmade makers featured in our shop, on meditative stitching, sourcing quality materials, and finding creative inspiration from our ranches.
How did you get interested in embroidery?
I have always been crafty, it probably stems from my days as a girl scout. My sister and I shared the love, and I learned to cross stitch from her. I did a lot of handwork when my children were very young and then put it away mostly as life got busier. A few years ago I decided to pursue embroidery. I took a few classes and was immediately in love. Youtube has also been my friend. There are hundreds of videos demonstrating specific stitches; it makes it so easy to learn.
How has your knowledge of the craft deepened since you began?
Social media has been an amazing avenue for learning and deepening my craft. I quickly learned embroidery has changed alot since I was a child. The more contemporary approach appeals to me. I became a voracious explorer of the many artisans out there creating and was introduced to some who have become my favorites.
To name a few: Alabama Chanin, Sophie Digard, Erin Lewis Fitzgerald, Alice Makabe, Kazako Aoki, and Yumi Higuchi.
What do you enjoy most about embroidering?
Its meditative quality, hands down! It’s so grounding and soothing. When life gets hectic, I find myself rushing home to sit down and stitch. I heard in one of my early classes that you’re either drawn to the process or the product. I go back and forth. It’s nice to produce something, and I love creating things for people to appreciate. That’s the most affirmative quality for me, when someone loves what I create. But the process is the part that feeds my soul and my mental wellbeing.
Your choice of materials is thoughtful. What do you look for when choosing materials? Where do you find them?
Quality is important to me! I use a hand-dyed thread from Weeks Dyeworks. I love the variegated effect the dyeing process gives the thread; it adds so much dimension. I was purchasing “vintage” bandanas from a boutique, and quickly learned that they were processing newer bandanas and making them look old. I did some research and learned to do it myself using a tea dye bath and fine sandpaper.
How did your collaboration with Ranchlands come about?
Madeline Leigh Jorden! It’s been so fun to collaborate with my daughter Maddie, who works at Ranchlands. It’s provided a whole new dimension to our relationship. I was a stay-at-home mom, and therefore she didn’t really see me offering my talents to the greater world. I’m so honored and proud to collaborate with her, and I’ve also gotten to learn more about her work for Ranchlands through the process.
How has collaborating with Ranchlands affected your designs? Choice of materials? Business?
Mostly I’ve been personally influenced by the rural lifestyle Ranchlands embodies. From the beautiful scenery and animals to the glorious food prepared using locally sourced fruits and vegetables at Zapata, I feel inspired to simplify and live off the earth. So much so, that my husband and I recently purchased a farm near Round Top, Texas, where we will reside mostly full time. The beautiful aesthetic Ranchlands promotes proves rural living and style can work together.
What are your long term goals for your business? Where would you like to be in 5 years?
So many goals...I’d love to teach embroidery as an avenue to mental health (two subjects I’m passionate about). I’d love to work on some larger pieces like clothing with much larger images stitched. I’ve started dabbling in natural dyes and would like to further explore those. It’s all about the process!