A life in pictures • In 2008, when Schmidt was still perfecting her craft, her mother experienced a recurrence of cancer. “I decided to make a necklace that year for her 60th birthday with 60 photos from throughout her life — film snippets — that I placed in 60 tiny bubbles,” Schmidt says. “She loved it.” Her mother died a few weeks later.
“My dad, Edward Schmidt, always had a camera around his neck and took lots of photos when I was growing up,” she says. “He’s an artist, a painter and my interest in film probably comes from him.”
Today, Melissa Schmidt makes custom memorial bubble sculptures for people who’ve experienced the loss of a loved one.
A profusion of cranes • Schmidt’s iconic bubbles come in all sizes and colors, some with patterns, others swirled with color, burnished with gold, sometimes with applied glass decorative elements, all strung on strong chain. She fills the bubbles with gold leaf curls and twists, with film snippets, cutouts, paper, feathers, and the tiniest paper origami cranes, each hand crafted by Schmidt.
“I’m aware of the symbolism of the crane,” she says. She knows they represent harmony, grace and beauty, but something that unexpected happened when she placed the cranes in the bubbles. “They move within the bubbles — it has to do with balance. The wing tips just brush the sides of the glass, so as the person moves, the cranes balance, turn and move as well.”