Metalworking is an art form for senior goldsmith Cherise Mayer
n most afternoons, you can find Cherise Mayer soldering, sawing, forging, filing, casting, and polishing precious metals for her home-based jewelry business, Artsmith Adornments. While she uses intricate tools to fashion raw materials into gold and silver jewelry, two notable awards hang in the background. One is for being a top producing goldsmith for Riddle’s Jewelry (she is, in fact, one of the top five in the company), and the other is for earning the title of senior goldsmith. To add to these accomplishments, she is working to reach yet another smithing milestone. “I have a few tests left to pass to become a master goldsmith, but I’m working on it,” she says.
Cherise has been a goldsmith and silversmith since she began an apprenticeship with Riddle’s in 2012. Because of her background, she was able to complete the coursework more quickly than most traditional students. For one thing, she already knew going in how to weld, a skill she learned growing up on a ranch near rural Buffalo, South Dakota. This is also where her older sister first taught her how to make jewelry. Additionally, before joining the apprentice program, she had earned her bachelor’s of fine arts from NSU. After college, she gained more experience in jewelry making by spending two years teaching wire wrapping and beading classes at The Bead Co. in Sioux Falls, before moving back to Aberdeen with her husband, Josh.
From setting all the stones, to doing all the soldering, Cherise fabricates each piece of her jewelry by hand. She will start from scratch with just sizing stock and wire, or take a single part and build around it. The amount of time it takes her to create a design varies. She says, “Sometimes I work on a project for a couple of hours, or sometimes it can take a few days or even a week, depending on how complicated it is or how many stones it has. I’m building everything by hand, so I take my time to make sure I’m doing all the steps correctly.”
In addition to her home studio, Cherise’s jewelry is on display alongside her paintings and lithography prints at the ArtWorks Gallery in the Aberdeen Mall. Having an exhibit at ArtWorks helps get her name out in the art world, and also gives her a place to meet with clients. Even though Cherise is busy with her business and raising her three young children, she decided she didn’t want to wait for the perfect timing to join the gallery. “I’ve always wanted to be a part of ArtWorks, even while I was in college, but then I’d always think I couldn’t do it because I didn’t have enough time. I finally realized I’m never going to really have the time, so I’m just going to do it now.”
Cherise paints watercolors and acrylics as a side passion, and created lithography prints while in college. All of her paintings and prints share birds as their common theme. “I really prefer wildlife when I paint,” she explains, “I think it’s because I grew up in that rural environment, we did a lot of hiking and outdoor activities and I even worked for the U.S. Forest Service in high school, so it just reminds me of home.”
Out of all her work, her watercolors and jewelry are her favorites. She even adds, “I have a couple of watercolors for sale now that I’ve been holding on to for a while because I really just love them so much.” While she likes to try her hand at all kinds of art, metalworking has become her true medium of choice. “All artists are kind of tinkerers, we like to dabble in everything. But when you find your medium that is the biggest thing, because for most of us there is that one thing that we like to do more than anything else. For me, that’s metalworking.” // – Jenny Roth
Cherise is available to meet clients interested in jewelry design and repair by appointment at the ArtWorks Gallery in the Aberdeen Mall. Her jewelry, paintings, and prints are on display during the galleryís regular hours, which are Thursday through Saturday from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and Sunday from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/artsmithadornments