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Indiana Artisan Dawn Middleton
Dawn Middleton

“Handcrafting, actually using my hands, always has attracted me to metal smithing and to the making of jewelry pieces. When I light up the torch, design ideas flow to me as I go through the process, and inspiration spills out from my soul.”

The way Dawn Middleton uses words like “harmony,” “natural,” “growth,” and “beautiful,” it’s as if she’s describing flowers and a garden instead of jewelry and her studio in Greenville, along the Ohio River. Dawn talks a lot about nature and her special connection to it from an early age.

“As a child, I remember being entranced by the organic and whimsical designs of the Earth,” she said. “Paying homage to this in my craft brings me daily joy and great energy to my life,” and she has focused and used that energy to create a company and grow a business that is flourishing.

“Every time I step into the studio, I get excited because ideas just flow from me,” she said in a way that’s reminiscent of how a gardener talks about planting seeds in the spring. As seeds grow and plants bloom, gardeners talk of great expectations and the excitement of uncertainty. Similarly, Dawn says, “Each creation I make comes from my mind, and sometimes I don’t know what I will create until I sit down at the bench and start to form a new piece of jewelry.”

For materials, she assembles natural stones, fine and sterling silver, bronze, brass, copper, and precious and semi-precious stones. And like a gardener talking about the overall landscape of the garden, Dawn says, “I am inspired by all of my organic surroundings, and I bring them into my designs.”

Interestingly, it was Ford Motor Company that nurtured Dawn early on. For 14 years, she worked in Ford’s body shop, part of that time as a welder. She left when the company downsized, and from there she took personal responsibility for her growth. “I studied interior design for four years,” she said, “and those studies helped me understand that I could produce artful objects by applying the shapes, colors and textures of nature to jewelry design.

“This passion and my skill were enhanced through metal smith classes. That changed my desire to bring into this world something special. I am inspired by my natural surroundings, and I love gardening and being one with nature, and my jewelry designs reflect that special part of me.” Dawn has been metal smithing for only three years, and like the right plants, in the right soil, in the right sunlight, with the right amount of rain, her growth and the results have been stunning.

“Handcrafting, actually using my hands, always has attracted me to metal smithing and to the making of jewelry pieces,” she said, “When I light up the torch, design ideas flow to me as I go through the process, and inspiration spills out from my soul. I spend a lot of time ruminating and then I create.”

Dawn says she’s blessed to be working in her in-home studio, where she spends four to five days a week on her craft, “always giving gratitude for the wonderful abundance that is all around,” she said.

“Each day I design and create amazing jewelry in my studio, and this to me is a love ritual. My Hoosier landscape inspires me every day during every season,” she said, leading to why being an Indiana Artisan is important to her. “I wanted to represent the state I live in with my creations and get to know other Indiana Artisans,” she said. “I am proud that my work represents Indiana, and personally I feel blessed to be a part of a great organization focused on what is flowing from very creative people.”

Before her work juried into Indiana Artisan, Dawn began selling at local art and craft fairs – planting the seeds for a successful jewelry business. That experience led to successful applications to fine art shows. She represented her work at the Indiana Artisan Marketplace for the first time in 2014, and she now sells in several local galleries and has begun wholesaling. To continue with the garden analogy, she has harvested seeds from successful plantings, taking what she has learned from these experiences and is expanding her growth into other states.”