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Life and Work with Michele Friedman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michele Friedman.

Michele, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a native Chicagoan. I grew up in the Lakeview neighborhood. I think growing up in the city gave me an early appreciation of art, architecture and design. Sometimes, I refer to myself as a frustrated architect. I took classes at the Art Institute as a kid. I went to Parsons School of Design in NYC to study fashion and wound up studying metals; combining my love of 3-D/sculpture and fashion. After returning home, I worked for a Chicago area goldsmith and an Evanston contemporary craft gallery. I began my own two-tone jewelry line and pursued it on a full time basis in 1998. For years, I had wanted to incorporate color into my jewelry without setting stones. Through trial and error and consideration of other materials, first I realized that wool felt was the perfect material for my exploration of color, pattern and texture. The FELT jewelry became a coherent line in 2006. I travel across the country retailing my work at craft shows and art fairs and with the occasional gallery, boutique or museum shop. I also maintain an online presence. When I’m not working, I love traveling abroad with my husband, I love food, pet my cats and cheer for my all time favorite sport team, the Cubs.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I had an English teacher that used to say, “Success in life depends on how well you can follow Plan B.” Truer words have never been spoken. My greatest bits of advice would be to try not to have all of one’s eggs in one basket. Diversify revenue streams. Always have a back up plan. Save money when the times are good.

Please tell us about Michele A Friedman Designer Metalsmith.
People call me “The Felt Lady”. I do not know of anyone else that treats felt as if it was a stone. I am not a fiber artist so, I treat the felt as if it was a stone. I like to describe what I do as my hand-making shapes out of wool felt and then setting them as stones. I think that sets me apart from others that may work in similar materials.

There’s a wealth of academic research that suggests that lack of mentors and networking opportunities for women has materially affected the number of women in leadership roles. Smart organizations and industry leaders are working to change this, but in the meantime, do you have any advice for finding a mentor and building a network?
I think it is important to approach someone separately and not in the moment. Contact a person before or after an initial meeting so, an appropriate exchange can be had without compromising other stuff that might be occurring in real time. I hope that makes sense. Ask for help in artists forums on Facebook. Develop friendships and peer groups locally.


  • Earrings mostly run between $65 and $130 but go up to $300
  • Brooches start at $125
  • Necklaces start at $115
  • Bracelets start at $390

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Cole Rodger

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