Heidi Mandich might be what you call a “giver.” She teaches her metalsmith jewelry techniques in the same room at the Indianapolis Art Center where she herself learned the basics. She is part of the non-profit “100 Voices of Hope,” supporting the Simon Cancer Research Center at Indiana University Hospital in Indianapolis. After working in Indiana’s tourism development office in college, she now continues to promote aspects of Indiana that make it special as an Indiana Artisan and some of those aspects, she works into the designs of her jewelry.
“I have always felt it important to give back,” Heidi said. “None of us got where we are today alone. There were teachers, mentors, family – people who shaped us into who and what we are.” And so today, she’s in the business of shaping.
“I took my first class in metalsmithing in 2006 and fell in love with the ability to manipulate, form and transform metal,” she said. “At the Indianapolis Art Center, I had been flame working, making lamp work glass beads. I wanted to find a way to showcase a unique glass bead, and I fell in love with metalsmithing.” The glass world’s loss was the jewelry world’s gain.
“I have come full circle and now teach beginners the love of using fire and hammers to manipulate metal in the same studio where I first learned,” she said; “and I continue to take classes to become better – at the Indianapolis Art Center; from Michael David Sturlin, of the of the Revere Academy; from Bruce Baker, the nationally renowned jeweler and presenter on a variety of topics related to successful art sales; and from Andrea Jackson at FC’drea Design, among others.”
Heidi enjoys the versatility and the challenge of metalsmithing – taking raw metal sheets of Argentium Sterling Silver and wire and creating something reflective of nature or architecture that, as so many artisan jewelers say, “becomes a favorite that customers love to wear.”
Part of the joy, she says, is the creation of something truly original. “It’s fun to create a design not seen anywhere else. I think that’s what people who seek out original handmade art are looking for – that piece that they won’t find ‘coming and going.’”
Heidi adds, “I find things here in Indiana that inspire me, and I try to recreate images that reflect them in my work – my mother’s peony garden, the swirls from a rock skipped on a still lake, the fall leaves in Brown County.
A native Hoosier, Heidi was honored to be included as an Indiana Artisan in 2014. “The support of the State in launching Indiana Artisan validates the work we do as individuals. Sometimes we are so close to what we do that we don’t realize the uniqueness of our work. It’s gratifying to be selected as one whose quality of work is good enough to represent our state, and it’s great that the State presents it as genuine talent. I wanted to become part of that story and again share things about this state that inspire me.”