Tuesday, April 5, 2011
In 1995 New York native, Michelle Wey, moved south of the border to a self-described artists’ haven, a town in Guanajuato, Mexico, named San Miguel Allende. It was there that she would meet Billy King, a Canadian who invited her to join his jewelry making school and paved the way for her into the business.
“He curses and sputters a lot, but he’s a great teacher and I can’t thank him enough for creating an environment for open exploration of all aspects of the jewelry making process,” Michelle said. From there, she began selling her work almost immediately in a gallery that belonged to a friend.
A decade and a half later, Michelle has become an avid jewelry maker, creating beautiful modern and often geometric pieces through the use of old-fashioned techniques in cutting, sanding, soldering, and hammering among others. You can find her work for sale internationally through her Etsy shop.
“Jewelry making seemed to come naturally to me. It suited my love of form, color, sculptural elements combined with the need for precision.
“It is almost like being a sculptor, in miniature,” Michelle said.
One of Michelle's signature elements is the use of mixed metals, which she achieves mostly by incorporating gold into her sterling silver designs. The gold she uses in her designs is full karat gold that she buys from New York’s jewelry district or Mexico City’s International House of Metals, so her customers get the most out of their buck. This is something truly to be appreciated about the designer.
“My shop is a representation of my jewelry line. The piece you see pictured is the actual piece you will receive,” Michelle said.
And that single piece takes Michelle an average of eight to 10 hours of labor-intensive work to create.
“I don’t really like to think about it because if I tried to pay myself for my time, my prices would be need to be caudrupled!”
But like so many other artists and creators, Michelle practices her work for the love of it, adapting and evolving as her work continues to develop. One way she has done this is by utilizing the Internet.
Michelle has discovered the potential of co-designing with clients over Etsy.com, much like she has done with clients in person.
“It has been amazingly possible and positive albeit a little protracted, meaning what happens in an hour in person between two people sharing ideas, might take one to two weeks and 20 e-mails between two people over the Internet. But it has been worth it with various wonderful clients so far on Etsy.”
Besides making jewelry Michelle also loves to paint, play tennis, walk her dog, take care of her garden, and spending time with her boyfriend and amazing group of friends.
To learn more about Michelle’s journey you can follow her on her Facebook page.