Featured Member

Each month a new Featured Member is chosen from the completed member profiles on our website. Their interview and work is highlighted on our blog and social media. Visit our archive of past Featured Members.

June 2018

 

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Michele C. Dodge

San Francisco, CA
Website

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a geologist by training, and I started making and selling jewelry in 2006. My science background has aided me in understanding materials and in implementing my designs. I operate my small business out of Union City, where I create bespoke jewelry for clients and one-of-a-kind cloisonné enamel pieces. I also sell a wholesale jewelry line out of a permanent showroom at AmericasMart in Atlanta.

What is your favorite tool and why?

I’m going to give the obvious answer: my hands are my favorite tools. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to use any of my other tools. I’m also quite fond of my Green Lion saw and my assortment of files. With my saw and files, I feel like I can create just about any shape in metal that I can imagine.

Which materials do you create with most and what is your attraction to using them?

I work primarily with silver, natural gemstones, and vitreous enamel, and I deeply love each of these materials. My favorite metal alloy is 18k yellow gold. I love the workability, vibrant color, and high polish of 18k yellow gold.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I am inspired by nature and by mathematical principles. I love being outdoors, and I’m drawn to small wildflowers and weeds, which are often overlooked. However, when you do take the time to look, you see that they are miniature worlds of amazing shapes and vivid color.

How long have you been working in metals and what brought you into this field?

I first learned to solder in 2007, and I’ve been slowly adding to my metals toolbox ever since. I’ve studied metallurgy, fabrication, and sculpture, and I’ve fallen totally in love with the process of shaping metal. It astounds me that something that seems so hard and unchanging can be manipulated in so many ways. Metal is just amazing – it can be solid and blocky, or it can be intricate and delicate. Metal is also fairly forgiving; you can correct most mistakes you make in metal.

What has been the biggest challenge for you as a metal artist and have you overcome it, or how are you working to overcome it?

My biggest challenge as a metal artist is deciding how to use my time. I always have more ideas than time, so I need to choose which ideas to work on. I have to decide how much time to spend acquiring new skills or honing old skills. I have to decide which opportunities to jump on, and which to pass up. Time management continues to be my biggest struggle. I use tools like Trello to prioritize and organize projects, but it’s always sad making that decision not to put time into something that would be fun to learn.

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in metals?

My advice to someone just starting out is to strike a balance between collecting information and just experimenting. I recommend spending time reading about techniques, asking questions, and taking a workshop or two when you can. I also recommend spending some time struggling. In this age that so much information is at our fingertips, it’s tempting to just jump on the internet every time you have a question. Don’t. Struggle is growth. It’s good to jump in to experiment sometimes. You won’t know if or why something works unless you try.

Favorite resource/vendor or websiteMy favorite resource at the moment is back issues of Glass on Metal. The magazine’s focus is on the science behind enameling, and I’m absolutely obsessed. The Ganoksin website has also been a favorite resource of mine for many years; it’s truly a treasure trove of information.

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