Having grown up in the metropolitan New York area, Melanie Walter was exposed to the arts at an early age. Throughout her life, she had an interest in expressing herself creatively and loved to learn new skills in which to channel her creative energies. These skills were in the areas of music, voice, language, and most importantly, the visual arts.
Ms. Walter attended two colleges and graduated with honors in the field of gerontology where she pursued a 30 year career as Activities Director at retirement facilities on the east coast. Melanie was able to direct her creative energies to offer an enriched program of activities, but never let go of following other creative avenues outside of her professional career. She became accomplished in photography, graphic arts, drawing, painting, sculpture, and jewelry making, and was always open to learning new ways to create items of beauty and function.
Ms. Walter found her creative home in clay and ceramics in the early 1970’s. She attended Keystone College and worked with artist William Tersteeg, first as student and then as studio assistant. Melanie loved all facets of working in clay, and still does today as she works with well-known artist Hiroshi Sueyoshi in Wilmington, North Carolina.
In the mid 1990’s, Ms. Walter came upon her first pine needle basket while helping a friend set up a local exhibit. She became interested in learning how to make these beautiful baskets, and could see how her background in clay can be utilized; both pine needle baskets and hand-built clay pots employed the use of coils to build their form.
Over the past 15 years, Melanie has developed her own pine needle basket making style, incorporating many other natural items into her work including sliced black walnuts, North Carolina river cane, hickory nuts, and shells. She has participated in dozens of juried crafts fairs, offered demonstrations in many venues, taught classes, participated in arts competitions and placed her work in galleries, shops and museums.
In 2001 she created her own business, Pine Garden Baskets, and developed a website to share and sell her work. Very recently, Melanie has begun adding clay components to her pine needle baskets, which will take her work in a new and exciting direction.