17 Questions (Because 17 is Better than 10) with Melissa Villadiego of Villa Design

We have a great bunch of artists working and showing here at Fusion, and it’s really exciting for me to be able to share them with you all!  There’s always things we wish we could ask artists when we are looking at their work, but often they are not around to ask.  One of the things I find difficult when I meet artists at our Open Houses or at shows is finding that first question to get a dialogue going. As I’ve gotten to know my artist friends though, the questions just sort of build on themselves.  So, with the help of our friend Jessi at I Am What I Am on Main Street (who I’ve shamelessly stolen a lot of these questions from), and friends from the crafting community, I’ve compiled this list of questions to get the ball rolling.

Following up on last weeks discussion on branding, our featured artist today has been with us since the beginning, and is responsible for a lot of the look of the shop.  Melissa Villadiego of Villa Design is super busy, between graphic design work, working with and coordinating artists at Fusion (which can be a little like herding cats), involvement with the St. Louis Craft Mafia, as well as making stunning glass jewelry and doing shows. On top of all that, I make her read all my posts to make sure everything’s spelled right and I don’t embarrass anybody. I don’t know where she finds the time to sleep! At any rate, It’s great to introduce you to her, and I’m glad that she was able to take even MORE time and answer some questions for us.

What do you create?
I create unique jewelry by making my own lampwork glass beads and sculptures, then using upcycled materials and incorporating metalwork. I like to say my jewelry incorporates vintage details with a modern twist.

What is your bestseller?
I sell a lot of necklaces, especially the Glass Acorn Pendants.

If you had to describe your crafting style in three words, what would they be?
colorful, organic, detailed

What goes into making your creations?
More than people think! With the glass work, I sit in front of torch that’s somewhere between 1200-1500 degrees. I’ve burned my fingers a lot. I’ve had glass shatter and hit my neck. I’ve even had hot glass go down my shirt. Not pretty.

Then, the glass beads go into a kiln and I have to wait at least 8 hours before I can check if a bead survived or at least turned out. Sometimes it’s hard to translate what’s in my head to a physical bead.

There’s also different techniques I use to make my jewelry, including copper etching, copper electroforming, silver precious metal clay, enameling and metalwork. Hmm… that’s a lot.

How long does it take to make your product?
I always answer this question in years (and I love the blank looks I get). So as of today, it’s been 8 years of trial and error to learn about manipulating glass and learning what defines my style.

Are there any materials that you have used in your products that you think may be unexpected?
Maybe the vintage glass cabs. And old buttons.

Why handmade?
Crafting, and handmade in general, supports your local community.

What do you think differentiates crafting from other types of business?
The creativity. The craftsmanship and hard work that goes into each item. Passionate artists.

What do you enjoy most about selling your handmade goods?
Interaction with fellow artists/crafters and with the public, which is why I love doing art and craft shows! It’s a lot of prep work to get ready, but on the day, it’s a lot of fun for me. And a lot of laughter.

What personality Trait do you possess that you think helps you the most as a professional crafter?
Detail-oriented. Maybe to a fault.

Do you take custom orders?
To a certain extent. 🙂 With glass beads, I don’t because every bead will be different. One torching session will produce different results than an other.

Who are you outside of the business?
I’m a graphic designer. Foodie. Vintage lover. Amateur photographer. I’m also a geek and a great lover of cupcakes.

Do you buy handmade, and why?
Definitely. 🙂 I’m supporting the local community that’s why. 🙂

Do you have any short-term goals?
Build my wholesale business.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years? 10?
Still doing what I love.

Where can we find you to see more of your work, ask questions, and give you our money?
Too many to count, so just go to my website, www.villadesign.org. And like my FB page, follow me on twitter and check out all the pretties I pin on Pinterest. Go!

Who shot first, Han or Greedo?
Who? (I’m kidding! I sense my fellow geeky friends will strangle me) Han!

Not funny, Melissa…Not funny. 😉  Thanks again for talking with us today, Melissa!

Is there anything I missed, anything you’re dying to know about glass beads, jewelry, frits or being awesome? Leave us a comment, we love hearing from you all too! Also, don’t forget that in just four short weeks it’ll be July, and the year will be half over. I’m planning on doing eleven projects inspired by pins on pinterest in an 11 days of pinterest feature to mark the halfway point to Christmas…It’s never too early to start making junk to give away to the family, is it? If you’d like to see some of the things that I’m planning on, or would like to suggest a pin that I might love (or hate) to make you can check out my 11 days of pinterest board or leave me a comment in the comment section.

Thanks, and see you next week!


Writer Jeffrey Johnson

Stay-At-Home Dad and freelance Illustrator, comiker, crafter and urban homesteader. Jeffrey  and his wife Amy work together at Fusion as Handmade Family, making back to basics toys, gifts and decor for growing families. You can find his work and personal blog at www.handmadefamily.com or around the web as redherringjeff.


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