Meet this month’s Featured Maker, Lori Gery of Meld Handcrafted. She’s been busy working on a capsule collection for Manouche in time for Meld HANDCRAFTED’s trunk show this December 7th and 8th. We’re sure you’ll agree that her beautiful, nature-inspired work is remarkable!
What is your background?
I grew up in Kansas City, but I’ve been in Chicago for over 25 years. I have an BFA from the University of Michigan School of Art and an MBA from The University of Chicago. I spent my career in various marketing roles on brands like AXE, Suave and Dove, and most recently, I led marketing for a couple of start-ups.
How long have you been designing jewelry?
I took some jewelry classes in high school and college but really got back into it about 2 years ago. This is my first official holiday season!
What inspires your work?
My jewelry is inspired by the beauty of Northern Michigan — it’s my favorite place in the world. I also love rocks, stones and the art of lapidary. I leave the cutting and polishing to the experts, but each stone I select is unique and determines the design of the final piece.
Do you live in Northern Michigan year round?
We are very lucky to spend most of the summer in Northern Michigan. My kids are 5th generation on Walloon Lake (on my husbands side), so it’s like home to us.
What’s your process when developing a piece of jewelry?
Unlike most jewelers, I don’t draw my designs out in advance. I have some techniques and details that I you’ll see repeated in my work, but I’m pretty impatient and not a perfectionist, so I usually get an idea and just jump in. Often, the design evolves as I go and I end up with something different than what I intended.
Do people ever have misconceptions about your work? If so, what are they?
Sometimes people don’t think the stones are in fact stones — they are surprised that they’re not painted glass or plants pressed into glass. Occasionally, I talk to people that don’t fully grasp that I make each piece from “scratch” using a blow torch, power tools, hammers etc…
Is it difficult to part with any of your pieces?
Yes, it’s always hard to let go of one of my babies, but here’s a little secret … I “test drive” everything before I sell it, so I do get a little time with each piece before it goes.
Do you accept commissioned work?
Yes! Commissioned work does not need to be expensive, but it’s a great way to personalize a gift. A simple silver pendant can be an even more special gift when it has a detail representing, for example, the number of grandchildren in the family or a birthstone.
What materials do you prefer to work with and why?
I work with sterling silver, brass, natural stones and leather. I like mixing materials and these allow me to deliver original, handcrafted pieces at an accessible price point.
If you could design/create anything (access to materials and money were no object) what would it be?
I would love to gut an industrial space and transform it into a home.
Where would you like to see Meld HANDCRAFTED in 5 years?
That’s a good question! The fun of this is that it has grown organically and at a manageable pace. I would like to see the brand grow, but I do love making each piece myself.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’ve created a small capsule collection for the trunk show at Manouche. It’s inspired by the golds of the season (and Kim’s blonde hair!). Each piece features a citron and they will be available exclusively at the trunk show.
See Lori’s work in person at our trunk show this December 7th & 8th. Contact the shop for more details.