Spending ten years working in a foundry as a young woman, starting at age 17, Cooper learned and performed virtually all the labor-intensive steps involved in casting bronze at a Loveland, Colorado foundry. But not once during those ten years did Cooper pick up a chunk of wax or clay and ponder creating her own little work of art. Despite the grime and hard work, those years at the foundry were worth it, the award-winning artist acknowledges. They gave her an invaluable education in working in bronze from the bottom up. As a result, she can visualize a complex three-dimensional design (without drawing it on paper), calculate the necessary structural strength and interrelations of its various parts, and bring it to reality—in many cases without ever having seen how the artwork will look as a whole. Cooper’s widely collected wildlife art—from five-inch to monumental scale—depicts such creatures as birds, rabbits, beavers, chipmunks, and bears, known for their combination of graceful shape and, as the artist puts it, “fluffy and robust” charm. An impressionistic style suits Cooper well for a creature’s body. When it comes to the face, however, detail is key to infusing the animal with spirit and personality. Today, Melissa has over 25 years of sculpting experience. She currently lives in Larkspur, Colorado.