Michaela Wolfert interviewed by 18Karat Studio + Gallery

Interview  /  Artists   18KaratStudio+Gallery
Published: 03.11.2020
Michaela Wolfert Michaela Wolfert
18Karat Studio + Gallery
Edited by:
Jessica Stevenson
Edited at:
Edited on:
Custom-made, hand-fabricated platinum and diamond ring ⁠by Michaela Wolfert..
Custom-made, hand-fabricated platinum and diamond ring ⁠by Michaela Wolfert.

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Canadian jewellery artist Michaela Wolfert combines a love of the natural world with a sense of adventure and originality. She began her jewellery training in her native Germany, first training as an apprentice, and later graduating from the Meisterschule fuer Goldschmiede in Munich to become a master goldsmith.
Michaela's sense of adventure led her to immigrate to Canada, where she has built a successful business as an independent jewellery designer in the town of Almonte, Ontario. She keeps active training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and also enjoys flying her sailplane. Nonetheless, she also cites nature, the forest and a sense of quietude as key inspirations for her work. We’re proud to welcome this master of her trade to share her personal story this month.
/ 18Karat Studio + Gallery

18k yellow gold and sterling silver aquamarine ring by Michaela Wolfert.

What’s your origin story?
Making and creating was part of our family. My father did it with sound and words: he was always ready to sing, whistle a tune, or recite his poetry. My mother was more practical: her creative energy went towards sewing clothes.

After finishing almost nine years of training as a goldsmith in my native Germany, I worked another nine years before deciding it was time to open my own studio. I have a taste for adventure, so I immigrated to Canada and started Kehla Design.

18k yellow gold long pearl and diamond necklace by Michaela Wolfert.

What makes jewellery different from other art forms? 
I think of jewellery sometimes as a form of memory capsule. Pieces of jewellery have so many memories attached to them. They symbolize a specific moment, person or event, and wearing this piece brings those aspects back to life and immortalizes them in a way. One of my favourite stories was of a young man who wanted to have an engagement ring made. He brought me a diamond to use that his grandfather had carried into World War I to propose to his fiancée after the war would be over. The son married this young man's mother with it, and the third generation carries that tradition forward.

Two tone diamond earrings by Michaela Wolfert.

What tips do you have for aspiring designers?
First, congratulations and welcome to a challenging and exciting path. I suggest fully embracing the challenges and difficulties by viewing them as stimulation rather than obstacles. Improve your technical skills as much as possible. Whatever you make should be well-crafted, and this will ensure its longevity. Another important area is your business skills. Learning how to run a business can mean the difference between success and failure. Last but not least, don't underprice and undervalue your work.

Michaela Wolfert with her sailplane.

What’s your work process like?
A lot of my work revolves around gemstones; I love colours. The stone is often the starting point, and has to appeal to me. It’s either the colour, or the level of inclusions, or a combination of stones, and then the design develops around that. I design with pen and paper, and I often use cardboard and scissors to work out construction details. Sometimes the idea is fully formed and I know exactly what to make. Other times it’s more nebulous, and only a persistent research process will reveal what I want to make. I may have stones with seven or eight very different designs for them, and none seem quite right, so I keep trying. Close isn't good enough for me.

Michaela Wolfert hand-fabricating a custom-made platinum and diamond ring in progress.
Custom-made, hand-fabricated platinum and diamond ring ⁠by Michaela Wolfert.

I’m in my studio five or six days a week, and I love it. Besides the creative and technical challenges, there is the business side. It’s a never-ending balancing act between making new pieces, seeing my ideas executed in 3D, remodelling client’s pieces and taking care of their requests, and finding enough downtime so the ideas don’t run dry. Did I mention it’s exciting and rewarding? 

Studio and gallery space at Kehla Designs, Almonte, Ontario⁠.
I love beauty. I feel blessed to be granted the chance to make something beautiful that is strong and can last a long time.
Thank you to Michaela Wolfert, our artist of the month, for her grace, generosity, and for sharing her story. The eclecticism and sense of joy in her work are an inspiration.

About the Interviewee

An award-winning jeweller, Michaela Wolfert is one of few Master Goldsmiths in North America. She started her career in 1978 as an apprentice in the workshop of a master goldsmith in Heilbronn, Germany. After ten years of combined schooling and practical work experience under the tutelage of master goldsmiths in several studios, Michaela was awarded the title of Master Goldsmith by the prestigious 'Meisterschulefuer Goldschmiede' in Munich, Germany.
In 1990, Michaela moved to Canada and accepted a position as a jewellery designer and goldsmith with an established firm in Ottawa, Ontario. She worked in Ottawa for six years before opening her own studio, Kehla Design, in 1996. 
Since then she continues to produce high quality, handmade precious metal jewellery and sculptural pieces that combine traditional craftsmanship with timeless, yet elegant, designs. Michaela has received numerous awards for her work including a double award from DeBeers in 1994. A platinum member of the Metal Arts Guild of Canada, she was awarded the 'Steel Trophy' for Best in Show in 2006, and continues to participate in juried exhibitions and group shows. Michaela accepts commissions and creates one-of-a-kind jewellery and ready-to-wear pieces at her current studio in Almonte, a small historic town in Eastern Ontario.
In 1996, Michaela was asked to establish the Diploma Metalworks program for Nunavut Arctic College in Nunavut, (formerly the Northwest Territories). Since 2005, Michaela has been a faculty member of the Haliburton School of the Arts where she teaches Jewellery Essentials.
Michaela and her work has been featured numerous times in Canadian national and local media.  Her work is available at the L.A.Pai Gallery in Ottawa, Onatrio, the Wooden Jewel Gallery in Bend, Oregon, USA, on her website and in her studio in Almonte, Ontario.
My goal is to enrich people’s lives by creating jewellery that symbolizes a special moment in their life. My jewellery suits the human body – It becomes part of the person; it becomes part of their legacy.
Michaela Wolfert