Chinese Design Concepts

Melanie Tomlinson

Melanie Tomlinson, like Linda Johnson the Director of Madame Mao's Dowry, hails from Birmingham in the UK. An artist and illustrator Melanie's work first caught Linda's eye in the museum shop at Tate Modern during the Freida Kahlo exhibition. Melanie had been commissioned to produce elaborate metal hair ornaments reflecting the style of Kahlo's exuberant work. One of these ornaments has been seen around town on the hair of said Director of MMD! Some years later when Melanie began to produce metal butterfly brooches Linda made the connection with the obsession with butterflies on Chinese ceramics and textiles since the Ming Period and brought Melanie's work to Shanghai.


Over the last 15 years Melanie has developed techniques to print her beautifully detailed and colourful gouache paintings on sheet tinned steel. Once printed she coats, cuts, folds, coaxes the pieces into layered artefacts. Her larger works, many in the hands of private collectors and museums, are dioramas and automata full of flora and fauna, with most inspired by folk tales from communities across Europe.


At Madame Mao's Dowry you can see a selection of Melanie's butterflies that she has made into brooches and, especially for Madame Mao's Dowry, layered hair ornaments.

Melanie has recently been involved with a collaborative project in the UK that concerns itself with that great bird well-known in Asia, the crane. If you have a VPN you can see Melanie's beautiful illustrations and more by visiting her blog at

CompanyOfCranesBannerSmall Melanies logo melanie'sbrooches GardenBirds AutumnFieldfares butterfly1 butterfly4 butterfly6 butterfly5 butterfly3