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.

August 2022

  • Francesca MacKie
  • Francesca MacKie
  • Francesca MacKie
  • Francesca MacKie
  • Francesca MacKie
  • Francesca MacKie


Francesca MacKie

Board Member
Public Relations May 2020 – January 2022, Membership January 2022 – Present

Website: francescamackie.com
Instagram: fmackiejewelry

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a jewelry designer, instructor, and life-long art student. My work is motivated by a love of material exploration and is largely inspired by architectural landscapes. I grew up in San Francisco, lived in New York and Hawaii, and earned my MFA in Sculpture in 2012 from Academy of Art University. I teach in the Jewelry and Metal Arts Department at AAU and work with students to encourage them to enter exhibitions and competitions around the world. I joined the board of the Metal Arts Guild about 2 years ago and have been enjoying meeting a larger community of Bay Area artists.

2. What is your favorite tool and why?

In my jewelry studio I use the coping saw and flex shaft quite a bit, and I like Scotch-Brite for cleanup. In the metal shop I am still in awe of the plasma cutter and horizontal band saw.

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

I am a mixed media artist, and I enjoy experimenting with different materials, but metal work is what drew me to jewelry design. I work mostly with sterling silver, copper and bronze and incorporate stones, plastic, bone, rubber, enamel, and leather. What I appreciate about mixed media jewelry are the endless possibilities and the mystery you can create by making a material look like something completely new.

4. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I love to travel, and I am inspired by the landscapes I see. I’m curious about the different ways that societies of people have built themselves into their natural surroundings. I’m especially curious about the behavior of natural elements as they reclaim urban space, like moss growing on stone walls, ivy taking over a wooden fence or tree roots busting through a concrete sidewalk.

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

When I was a child, I made sculptures from aluminum foil, so I think I have been curious about the manipulation of metal for my whole life. I learned weaving and wire wrapping techniques in elementary school, and in high school learned how to weld steel and how to solder copper to make stained glass pieces. I took jewelry making classes in and after college and assembled pieces for a designer in New York City. I put up a website in 2008 and have been selling my work independently while I attended grad school and become a jewelry instructor at Academy of Art University, De Anza and Mission College. In 2019 I gave a lecture and taught a few workshops at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Ningbo, China, and I hope to find more international opportunities related to metal work and jewelry design in the future.

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

I encourage my students to safely push the limits of their materials and look for new combinations of techniques. Material exploration can often lead to something new and exciting that hasn’t been seen before. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You learn the properties of a material a lot more thoroughly through trial and error, figuring out what went wrong and why.

I also recommend joining a community like the Metal Arts Guild. We all need support, advice and feedback. Having other professional opinions about your work can help when you are stuck or frustrated. As a professional artist, you’re not just a designer and a maker; you also become a photographer, a marketer, a salesperson, and an accountant. It’s hard to have all those skill sets, so look for support from people who are experts in areas where you’re not.

7. 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?

Organization can be difficult with an overaccumulation of tools and materials. Taking a step back helps; and designating time to clean up after myself at the end of the day makes the next day easier to start. I find To-Do lists helpful to stay on top of projects as well as setting goals and deadlines for each step.

8. Favorite resource/vendor or website

RJ Leahy and Otto Frei have a lot to offer and TAP Plastics has become a favorite mixed media resource. I have been sourcing precious metals and jewelry tools online from Rio Grande for the last 10 years, and they have been very consistent. My stones and beads come from all over the world, and a lot of my gems come from Corey’s Custom Creations, a stone collector and friend of the Jewelry and Metal Arts Department at Academy of Art University.