Getting to visit Michele’s Mercaldo Contemporary Jewelry Design gallery and studio in Boston is a very special indulgence. She has an impressive studio and a beautiful gallery space where she displays her work as well as pieces from other jewelry designers around the country.
Located in a good looking street, her gallery is an amazing, modern space. This space was completely remodeled to accommodate Michele's vision of her studio, showroom and gallery space. It was designed to be a very functional goldsmith studio seen from the gallery/showroom area, built in an open space environment where the clients can see the pieces being made.
Michele is actually stuck in a lunch meeting when I get there and it’s the delightful Petra that introduces me to the space and shows me many things, amongst them the awards that Michele as won with some of her designs, most recently the AGTA Spectrum awards with a ring in Palladium.
The very thing you notice upon arrival to the gallery are these big windows, which let the passerby’s appreciate the life that is going on inside Mercaldo’s studio. On the window there is a display of the various stages of grass growth, like a living work of art that you can see changing every single day. I will learn later on that having different exhibitions of art on the window is a common feature at Michele’s gallery. The next one is arriving the week after and it will consist of a bamboo display that is being shipped from the West Coast (you can actually see the different window exhibitions past and prsesent on Michele's website)
The gallery itself is airy with contemporary display cases that showcase not only the work made by Michele and her team but also work from other jewelry artists around the country. Because the whole area is an open space you can see from here the studio area per se. Behind the showcases stands a tall, wooden table where Michele sits with clients to discuss projects and ideas. Behind it the workbench area takes place: 4 contiguous custom made benches, all with tool organization details that would make any jeweler delighted. The studio area is bright, airy and that takes central place in the heart of the gallery/studio space. On the side sturdy wood tables (also custom made) hold the majority of the tools and equipment necessary to work. Everything is neatly organized which makes it simple and very functional to work. The whole space is very modern and structured pretty much like Michele’s work that has clean lines and is beautifully modern.
I ask Michele what is her favorite spot at the studio, to which she replies that it is her bench. It his a place where ideas come to life and beautiful pieces are created. Regarding the 3 items that make her place hers, she holds a thought for a while and stresses that the first thing would have to be the top part of the ventilation system above the soldering area. It was a gift that she immediately put to good use. A lot of other objects come to mind such as her custom made benches or the rotating art installations on the window. But the most important thing and the one that makes her studio distinctive from any other studio space is her son, who visits frequently ad which is just arriving with a big smile (and gets some hugs from Michele).
The week I visited the whole team was pretty excited with their new laser-welding machine. They had just received it the week before so they were telling me that any excuse to go solder with the brand new machine was a good excuse. But I believe that everybody’s favorite tool was a miter-cutting vise and jig. Apparently this was the most coveted tool amongst the team and according to them there was always some pressure to get it from somebody else’s bench as it is so used in Mercaldo’s pieces.
As I ask about the jewelry itself, I make the difficult question of which piece of jewelry is Michele’s favorite. Lucky for me it was on display on one of the cases and it is an amazing gold necklace. At a glance it looks like a locket (because of the glass on both sides) and inside lays gold leaf stripes with white loose diamonds that move around. Needless to say that the photo does not give the piece justice for its beauty and movement. I look at the jewelry Michele is using: on the left hand the engagement ring and wedding band. On the wrist a pretty sleek bangle with diamonds. That day she was wearing this stunning necklace, an oval shaped drop in oxidized sterling silver with white diamonds set on 18K gold bezels all around it.
Coincidentally when I visit Michele is putting up an exhibition of contemporary jewelry work from female jewelry artists from Boston where the materials for the pieces are discarded metal from Boston snowplowers. There are numerous trays with different pieces, some of them rusty, beautifully transformed into wearable necklaces, pins and earrings. I’m particularly smitten with a gorgeous tourmaline ring from Michele where she executes to perfection the concept of using this discarded metal.
It’s hard not to stay the whole day just shooting this beautiful space while chatting with Michele and Petra (and Nick that was quietly working). It is such a beautiful space that has merged a gallery with a studio space in the most perfect way, while keeping the architectural integrity of a modern art gallery.
As farewell, I take some last photos of Michele with her son at the gallery entrance. They both look radiant and I leave thinking that he’s clearly a wonderful source of inspiration for Michele. A special thank you to Petra who showed me around the space when I got there and a big thank you to Michele for taking the time to explain the concept of her work and vision.