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  • 13 March, 2020

    Creating Connections Through Found Pieces with Maxine Midtbo

    Taylor Simmons

    Meet Maxine Midtbo, the founder of Memor. Maxine, a multidisciplinary artist, creates vessels adorned with jewelry, glass, tiles, coins, shells and other found items. Based in Cincinnati, Maxine repurposes these found items and creates mosaics on her vessels, connecting time periods and weaving stories into each one. Maxine's work embodies our nostalgic relationship with things as well as the importance of appreciating what we already have. I have a beautiful, blue, Memor vessel in my living room and, as she is open to collaborating with individuals and making pieces personal by using objects sent to her, might have a second one coming soon!

    We sat down with Maxine, wearing our Tiered VNeck Dress in Lavender Bougainvillea, to discuss creating three-dimensional forms, living with intention and gratitude and giving objects second lives.

    Where did the idea for Memor come from and which came first – the first vessel or the company?

    Memor is inspired, in part, by my upbringing. My mother is an antique collector and she would take me to auctions, estate sales and flea markets. She shared her knowledge and passion for remnants and objects with me. Memor began as a way to approach combining these remnants in collaboration with others. The connections that come about during these collaborations are what continues to motivate and inspire my work.

    Did your art and creativity go through many stages before landing on your vessels? Have you always loved working with your hands? 

    I have always been drawn to creating three dimensional forms. My parents have told me I used to spend hours building sculptures out of tape as a child. Before Memor, most of my work was sculptural or installation-based. I love ceramic work, but found it to be inaccessible in many ways. For me, working with my hands has always been a part of my life and is meditative and healing.

    As a relaunch, Coco Shop loves the idea of taking something old and making it new again. You give jewelry, glass, shells and coins second lives as mosaics. Is reusing and renewal something you think about often? 

    Reuse and renewal are important ideas when thinking about sustainability, but it goes beyond that. Appreciating what already exists or giving an object a second life is a starting point to commit to live with more intention and gratitude.

    What do you love about collecting? Is there anything you’d love to use in a mosaic, but haven’t yet?  

    The process of collecting and sorting is incredibly stimulating. Working with natural materials like shells and stones, I have become more attuned to the subtle variations in color, texture and size that occur within the same species. Many of the materials I work with now are hard (shards, metals, glass). I’m currently working to integrate soft materials in my work as well.

    What makes you feel most personally renewed and ready to take on what’s next?

    I try to move slowly through my work and integrate lots of breaks in my day. I also dedicate periods of time while I’m working to restoration. In these moments, I do not consume any media (audio books, podcasts, music), which helps me feel mentally and creatively rejuvenated. Each time a collection is finished, I’ve taken to performing a sage cleansing ritual. This is my way of honoring the previous lives of the objects, acknowledging the completion of a project and welcoming what’s next.