Michael Good is a jewelry designer, artist, and metalsmith who transcends all of those titles in the jewelry industry.
It has been over 35 years since Michael took a workshop that demonstrated putting a curve in a flat sheet of metal, and in the time since, he has gone on to perfect that metal technique and put it on the map as a jewelry and sculpture form. Michael’s work has become synonymous with the Anticlastic Raising technique that captured his interest.
Anticlastic Raising involves a flat sheet of metal, a mandrel, hammer, and a specific way of hammering the metal to compress the edges and stretch the center so that it curves and bends. The curves and hollows that result depend on the original shape of the sheet of metal and the individual intuition of the artist. When looking at the jewelry that Michael Good is known for, it’s hard to believe the enormous skill and effort necessary to produce a single light, supple, sinuous piece. Although you can see yourself in the polished surfaces, you can also sense the hammer that formed the metal in the beautifully finished pieces.
The metal itself takes center stage in Michael’s designs. It is about the beauty and integrity of the metal expressing itself, whereas jewelry is often about the metal as the vehicle that holds the gemstones. While the shapes he designs can be intricate, they are also almost breathtaking in their simplicity and restraint. The negative space speaks as much as the positive form.
“Using primarily the anticlastic principle I try to investigate the most direct and economical forms a plane will assume when its edges are stretched and its center compressed. Depending on the initial shape of the plane, and the degree of expansion and compression imposed upon it, there appears to be a natural sequential development of form that finds a certain parallel in nature, and serves as a metaphor for movement on all levels: both the physical and psychological.” –Michael Good
Michael gives us a legacy of jewelry being recognized as a respected art form. In the 1980’s, when his design aesthetic became defined and then recognized, this was pretty radical. At that time, fine jewelry was formal, classic, maybe a little staid, and more of an expression of sentiment or wealth. Michael’s wearable sculpture resonated, and inspired more than a few other jewelry artists to push the perception of what jewelry could be. Jewelry can be precious, timeless, and still artistically relevant.
Michael Good Interview
Michael has been spending winters teaching in Puerto Rico, and he graciously answered a few questions about his work and direction. This is an excerpt of the full interview I did for The Contemporary Jewelry Design Group, an organization of independent jewelry artists where Michael is a member and I am an Editor. Click here to read the full interview at CJDGjewelers.org.
idazzle.com: You made art and jewelry prior to taking the workshop in 1977 with Heikki Seppa. What was is about the Anticlastic Raising technique in particular that captured your interest?
Michael Good: I was experimenting with hollow structures before I met Heikki. We had moved to rural Maine and I had no access to facilities with afforded traditional jewelry making techniques so I had to find another way to work.
When I met Heikki at Haystack in 1977 he had just started working with what came to be known as Anticlastic forming. This was a huge insight for me and changed the whole way I looked at forming metal.
It opened up a whole new world to be explored both technically and aesthetically.
Does living in Maine inform your jewelry work? Are there challenges to working there versus New York City, for instance?
There are challenges and advantages to living in Maine or New York, obviously. Early on the access to markets and suppliers was very difficult. No internet, no overnight delivery. We couldn’t even get a private phone line so we could have a fax. But the overhead was low and I had the freedom to work without a lot of distractions. Maine is a very supportive environment for artists so I had a lot of community support and appreciation for my experiments.
If someone were to start to collect your work, what do you think is your most iconic design, a good place to start?
The open seam spiculum series, especially the single loop. Of course they should also have a sculpture!
Any hard won wisdom that you would share with a new designer or metalsmith starting out now?
There is no fixed path. Learn to think for yourself and don’t get seduced by short cuts. Isn’t that what all old artists say?
What’s next for Michael Good?
I am more and more occupied with sculpture and teaching. I am working on an educational project, developing a program to teach workshops in Puerto Rico where I have been spending the winters in recent years, and working on adapting a system to teach children in a Montessori environment.
Thank you, Michael, for sharing your experience and insights, it was truly an honor! You can find Michael’s jewelry designs and sculptures on his website at MichaelGood.com, or visit his Maine gallery at 499 Main Street, Rockland, ME 04841.