Black Dog Brand features stones and semiprecious gems from Michigan and the Great Lakes using a variety of metal smithing and precious metal clay techniques. "The question I invariably get asked is, "Who is the black dog and what does it have to do with jewelry?"...A fair question. The black dog of Black Dog is my flat-coated retriever, best friend, muse, therapist and the one who showed me my better self, Bailey. She crossed the bridge in November of 2017. I miss her, my life forever changed, and it is for her that I named the company. Curiosity led me to create jewelry with stones from a family cottage on Lake Huron, Bailey's favorite place." "With my interest piqued, I discovered that there is a wealth of stones from Michigan and the Great Lakes, and the story behind their creation is a fascinating insight into what makes this area unique and known throughout the world. My work features these jewels, creations od fire and ice, in a variety of forms and items."
What inspired you to start creating your work and how did you turn it into a business? As uninspiring as this may sound, I was looking for an indoor activity. Started with wire and bead jewelry and then a few months later I had my first show in Corktown. I sold a few pieces but wasn't satisfied with the simple things I was creating so they quickly became "more sophisticated" for lack of a better term. As I became more technically aware, my jewelry took on a life of its own. I had positive responses from friends and customers and decided to go all in; no longer a hobby, but a business. What do you enjoy most about the creative process? What I love most is that it comes from some place unknown. I identify as a Zen Buddhist, so a direct answer isn't possible. A zen proverb, "If you can describe it, it's not zen." Creativity is that way.
What are you currently working on? Creating the appropriate presentation for several pieces of Michigan Greenstone, our state gem. I also have a line of bee-themed pieces that I'm still developing. 20% off the proceeds go to Detroit Hives, DetroitHives.org
What makes your work unique or distinctive? Better to ask the people who purchase it. First, I use mostly the stones and semi-precious gems from Michigan and around the Great Lakes. Most of the people who stop to look are drawn to that. There is so much more than our area has to offer beyond Petoskey stones and I never pass up the opportunity to engage in conversation and share what I've learned.The stones really determine how to proceed, in that respect, the result can be quite organic. What do you enjoy doing besides creating you beautiful jewelry? I'm at the gym three days a week and also practice iaiado, a Japanese sword martial art, three days a week, it gets me out of the chair. Then the usual like movies and museums. My sister has a place on Lake Huron, and the vista is incredible, I don't get there as often as I would prefer.
You can see more from Michael Opipari, Black Dog Brand Jewelry, at Yellow Door Art Market.