I’ve known award winning artist Michela Verani for a while now, having first met her at a metal clay conference in the US. She and I share a love of sci-fi and we are also both participating in the metal clay Masters Registry programme so we have lots in common.
Michela was born and brought up in New Hampshire. Her mother was a sculptor. “She had three young daughters and very little time to create. So, we got paints of clay and were given relatively free rein in her studio so she could work.”
I asked Michela about her education. “I was an art major in college for a few years, but then graduated with a BS in Plant Science/Botany. My work has won many awards. However, I think that my best qualifications are the quality of my work and that my students come back repeatedly for classes.”
She first discovered metal clay is an article in Ornament magazine. “I still have that issue,” she smiles. “It took me a couple of years to find an instructor, but once I took a class, I was hooked. I loved its ability to be worked like the clay my mother had used in her studio. I made an absolutely horrid pendant and earring set. I still have that set and hand it around at beginner’s classes to show where one starts.”
Living where she does, it’s not surprising what her main influences are. “Mother nature herself, my gardens and woods are my main influences,” she told me. “A few artists I really admire are Jim Kelso, Janel Jacobsen and John Paul Miller. All use nature as the subject of their work. The quality of their work is amazing. Art Nouveau is also a period whose work is important to me.” She describes her style as “naturalistic with a touch of whimsy.” This is obvious in her winged creatures series.
Michela still takes classes when she can. “I try to take at least a class a year. I don’t have a lot of free time for classes, so don’t take as many as I’d like.” I asked her if any of her teachers has influenced her work in a particular way. “I’m not sure that any teacher has ever had a noticeable influence on my work,” she says. “While the tips and techniques learned in a class are important, I think that my style has stayed true to me no matter who I’ve taken classes with.”
As Michela and I are both doing the Masters Registry programme I asked her how she was getting on with it. “I have completed Level III,” she explained. “I am half way through getting my Level IV pieces completed. I hope to complete the remainder of the pieces by the end of the year (fingers crossed!).” I asked her how she approached it at the beginning. “When I started I did projects whose subject matter was interesting or easy for me. That was a bad choice, as with each level you complete, the jurors get tougher on quality and originality.” I can empathise with this! I did the same and now I’m regretting it too. “I am absolutely dreading forging (sorry Tim!). I don’t like hammering, as I have a sound sensitivity.”
Michela’s creative process is interesting. “I have tons of sketch books everywhere. I also collect pictures that interest me, color combinations, materials that look good together, other jewelers work, etc. Whether or not I plan work depends on its complexity. If it’s a simple piece, I just start with an idea and start working and let it go where it will. If it’s a complex piece such as a clasp, I do work it through on paper. I rarely make models though, I’d rather be working on the piece.”
She loves her tools too! “I love all my tools,” she laughs. “However if I had to choose a favourite, I’d have to say my rubber shapers, especially the small firm ones.”
Artist Profile Author: JULIA RAI is a teacher and artist working in a variety of media. She finds inspiration in science fiction and fantasy and loves a good story where disbelief can be suspended in favour of wonder. Her practical and ultra-organised side is always vying for attention alongside her creative and messy side. Each is trying hard to learn from the other and live in harmony.