Born and raised in San Jose, Costa Rica, Melina Castro moved to the U.S. in 2001 where she was first exposed to jewelry design. It was then she discovered her love for metals. Her creative exploration has included graphic design, photography, pottery, and mixed media sculpture; these are all still influential in her art work today.
Castro’s studio is in lower Puna, on the Big Island of Hawaii, right on the skirts of the active Kilauea volcano. She lives in an off-grid home where the power comes from the sun and the water from the rain. This way of living helps her remain present and stay in tune with the elements around her.
Castro’s main inspiration is the beauty of nature and the raw fierce sensuality of the flowing lava. “I see them as mysterious and powerful, unapologetic and uncompromising in their creativity….traits that I embrace and strive for in my own work. I take photos of stumps, rocks, vines, roots, bark, and paint peeling from an old wall. My personal favorite being the unusual textures and cracks on the hardened pahoehoe (smooth swirling lava rock). I’m continually exploring ways to capture all of these in my jewelry to show others what I think is beautiful.”
Metal has become Castro’s favorite medium. “At first glance it appears to be cold, solid and flat, but it actually has the ability to bend, be formed, and to be fused into other metals. When heated to a certain temperature it melts with a glowing incandescent light that reminds me of lava. In this molten state, a magical process of transformation occurs where infinite possibilities exist. As it cools down, the radiance dissipates and it solidifies revealing the intention of its creator.”
Each piece of jewelry is crafted using a variety of hand tools. By layering silver, copper, bronze and brass, Castro accomplishes contrast, color and texture. Using oxidized metals and the textures she achieves with an elaborate process called photo etching she transfers her own photos into the metal. Her work is characterized by its rustic- earthy look and its matte finish emulating a weather-worn appearance. Varied texture and finish gives a rich depth of character to every piece making it truly unique.