Member Spotlight


Lilly Marinelli’s first exposure to jewelry and metalsmithing came back when she was a student at College for Creative Studies (CCS), where she was an Art Direction and Graphic Design major. As an elective she enrolled in a jewelry class, and that was the beginning of a lifelong passion for metalworking. Balancing that passion with a career in advertising she pursued it from 1986-1998. Then came a 20-year break.

Upon her retirement from advertising, her passion returned, so when she returned to the Metro Detroit area, she resumed her metals classes. Lilly’s favorite class ever was the first one she took at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center (BBAC) upon returning to this area – the Metals Department Sampler Class. Each week a different member of the department’s teaching staff taught a different technique, effectively introducing students not just to the teachers, but also to what the department had to offer. According to Lilly, “it really lit the fire in me”. She continues to study there today. Previously she has studied at Fritzwillis Studio in Franklin, MI, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the DeCordova Museum in MA, as well as in many independent workshops. Among her favorite teachers are Barbara Fritz of Fritzwillis Studios and Cynthia Eid.

Well versed in all metalsmithing techniques, fabrication is Lilly’s love, but she is especially fond of experimenting with mechanisms of all types. Her favorite piece ever, the “Serenity Pendant” which earned her the inaugural MSG Charlotte Quinn Award at the 2021 BBAC Student Works Competition, showcases her talents well. It is fabricated from cast, textured, enameled and hinged components.

Today Lilly is employed as an assistant to jewelry designer Matthew Gross at his MHG Jewelry Studio in Berkley, MI. After a series of chance meetings with Matthew, Lilly saw an ad at a local supplier that Matthew was looking for an apprentice. She called him immediately and in her words “insisted he hire me”. He did, and 2 1/2 years later she is still in his employ, learning the intricacies of being a bench jeweler. In Lilly’s experience “bench is a LOT different than metalsmithing. It’s all about problem solving.” It’s been interesting for her to learn things differently, especially when it comes to learning to use the laser and in doing repairs.

When not apprenticing or taking classes, Lilly spends her time in the jewelry at I3 Detroit in Ferndale. She has been a member of MSG since 2019.

Lilly’s work has been exhibited in the Birmingham Our Town shows as well as the CCS Alumni Exhibitions, and may currently be seen at the Detroit Artists Market and the BBAC Gallery Shop.