Dr. Melissa Senetar is a KY native and self-taught artist who followed a very unorthodox path to jewelry-making. Melissa started beading as a fun and fashionable way to relax during college. After completing a degree in Biology and Chemistry from Pikeville College and subsequently, a Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Kentucky, she headed North with her husband Michael and two cats to be a research fellow at the University of Wisconsin. Though she enjoyed her work as a research scientist, was funded by the American Heart Association, and published numerous peer-reviewed articles, she found great satisfaction in making jewelry. While in Wisconsin, she joined the Madison Bead Society--an open group of bead enthusiasts that gathered monthly to share their love and knowledge of beading. This provided a great forum for her to explore various aspects of jewelry design and she quickly discovered a passion for working with natural materials.
To combine her love of science with jewelry design using natural materials, Melissa began creating resin jewelry with insect wings. Each piece is individually handcrafted and meticulously sealed to make a perfectly enveloped wing that is resistant to wear-and-tear and maintains the natural colors and patterns in nature with no two pieces ever alike. Melissa uses many species of temperate and tropical insects in her designs. However, none are ever intentionally harmed or endangered species. The environment is very important to Melissa, therefore she uses only naturally expired insects that were hand collected in KY or farm-raised insects that have lived out their life cycle. Packaged in eco-friendly recycled boxes, each purchase includes an information card that describes the science behind each piece. By preserving the fleeting beauty of nature, Melissa creates jewelry that celebrates where science meets art.
Melissa is an active juried member of the
Sheltowee Artisans Guild, the Louisville Artisans Guild, and the KY Craft
Marketing Program. Her work has been featured on the cover of The Crafts Report magazine and she has participated in numerous juried shows including the AFB Art Fair at Woodland Park, Broad Ripple Art Fair, Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art, and KY Crafted The Market. Melissa's nature inspired work can be found at her working studio and gallery PhbeaD, as well as numerous shops including the Kentucky Artisans Center, Les Filles Boutique, Artique, Homespun: Modern Handmade, and Indigenous-a handcrafted gallery. Melissa has also published numerous tutorials in the Step by
Step Wire Jewelry magazine and was named one of the magazine's Best of 2012. When she is not making jewelry, Melissa
likes to read, play with her cat and dog, and spend time with her husband. Melissa is also an AFAA certified Group Exercise Instructor and enjoys teaching Yoga and ZUMBA.