The Initial Discovery
My love for metal mesh started with a trip to Chicago, way before my time as a jewelry designer. My friends and I were going to Fed Up Fest, a queercore music festival and spent some time discovering the city.
Thrift store shopping in Pilsen, a small piece of gold metal mesh under the collar of a brown vintage dress caught my eye. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Already loving the details of that clothing era, I was fascinated by the allure it added.
My fascination began with its shine, but the silkiness and movement was an added textile satisfaction. It aroused the Leo rising in me, that love for shiny objects.
Designing clothing at the time, I fantasized incorporating mesh into my own designs.
Now to find the mesh! It wasn't easy, having no idea where to start. What was it even called?!!
I began my search on Etsy, scouring it for days. You couldn’t get it as a raw material in bulk like other supplies.
I was beginning to lose hope...
You can imagine the thrill when I happened to come across a purse made out of mesh. Hidden under a pile of other purses in an antique mall in Edmonton, a vintage silver purse reflected the light with it’s shiny mesh squares.
Unveiling the Magic
Racing home to destroy the purse, I ripped away the lining of the bag, revealing the underside of the mesh, an intricate weave of prongs and rings. Once removed, it was a large sheet that could be cut apart, with endless possibilities for shapes and designs.
Eventually deciding to keep my clothing designs simple, I started to experiment with it to make jewelry for myself.
The Hunt Continues
Since silver isn’t my first love, and knowing vintage mesh purses were the solution, I went back to Etsy.
I still wasn't sure what the purses were called. Trying countless search terms, ‘metal mesh purse’ was the winner!
The first one I found was a beautiful blue grey colour. I felt guilty taking a vintage item and deconstructing it, but the purses were no longer really in style and I was giving it a new life through upcycling.
Knowing how the mesh worked, I was ready to make my first piece of jewelry!
The result was a triangular mesh necklace with a little gold mesh on the tip.
I felt like I had stumbled upon buried treasure.
Taking Lord Violet to the Next Level
Fast forward almost an entire year.
Discovering brass, spiked vinyl and recycled leather, in addition to metal mesh, reignited my childhood passion for jewelry making.
I was thrilled at the idea of launching a jewelry collection in addition to the clothing Lord Violet started as. Why not create an entire line?
It was the ultimate satisfaction going above and beyond my initial goal of filling a niche in Edmonton by designing alternative clothing, by adding jewelry and accessories to compliment it.
The Thrill of the Hunt
From then on, I started seeing metal mesh purses in every thrift shop I went to.
I was more than joyful to be on the other end of this popular 70’s fad (as well as more vintage pieces dating back to the early 1900’s in the form of chain mail), that now found itself out of style.
Every thrift store visit involves the hunt for a new unique color of mesh purse! Thrift shopping is an essential part of each new city I visit, to fulfill my metal mesh obsession.
The thrill is in the hunt, looking for new colours, shapes of mesh and good quality purses. Or even better- a purse with a matching enameled snake chain strap I can use for other pieces.
And now that friends and family know my love for metal mesh, occasionally I’m gifted them or sent a picture with ‘Hey, do you want me to pick this up for you?’!!
Eco - Conscious
Repurposing materials vintage metal mesh purses also satisfies my politics as an environmentally conscious person.
By incorporating sustainability practices into my production, my brand aligns with my own personal politics and those which I share with you!
I feel connected to metal mesh not only politically but aesthetically it satisfies the alternative look I search to create, edgy and provocative.
Using recycled materials also allows me to offer the opportunity to take part in the responsible luxury movement with designs that are luxurious, yet eco-responsible.
My friend Neelam wearing her CLASSY BITCH Black Metal Mesh Choker
Behind the Scenes: Process
Step 1: The metal mesh is then cut away from the lining of the bag with scissors
Step 2: The mesh is cut into specific shapes
Step 3: Chain is cut to length for chokers or necklaces
Step 4: Chain, clasps and/or ear wires are attached to mesh
Step 5: The mesh is adorned with brass charms, or beads to make a finished piece of jewelry
I have to admit I was a little scared of how the style would be received, debuting them at the Royal Bison for the first time. Appropriately named CLASSY BITCH to honour the sophistication, yet sassy appeal of mesh and only offering them in blue grey to start.
But it was a total success.
Eventually I added black, matte black, silver, gold. I love choosing a new colour every season, releasing a limited amount based on as many I can make out of that purse. Some colours are really hard to find, so I gotta make the most of each one.
The most popular yet: gold!
Mesh connects me to others in interesting ways; like meeting another mesh fanatic with vintage mesh ties, scarfs and of course purses.
I hear stories from you, remembering the soft silky feel of your grandmother's mesh purse on your skin.
Metal mesh is a creatives dream- as a gemini who likes variety, it gives me endless possibilities to create one-of-a-kind pieces.
I can’t bear to deconstruct all the purses I find- I’ve found some beautiful vintage ones (like the white one below) that are now part of my wardrobe!
I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and the process behind metal mesh. Coming soon: the history of metal mesh and it’s origins. There is no other material like it!
What else do you want to know about metal mesh? Leave your questions and comments below!!