American luthier Michèle Ashley was raised in the United States and completed her secondary education in France, where she studied cello and ethnomusicology. At age 19, she moved to Italy to train as a violin maker at the International School of Violin Making in Cremona, where she worked with G. B. Morassi and Pietro Sgarabotto. Ashley established her own workshops in Parma and later Verona, where she studied briefly with Renato Scrollavezza. Moving to Mantua, she then apprenticed with Mario Gadda, for whom she worked and made copies for many years. Many of her instruments of that period are being played on in major symphonies throughout Europe and Asia.
In 1985, Ashley moved to Boston, and began to focus primarily on building cellos. She has made over 130 instruments, owned and played by professional symphony musicians, students, and faculty of the top conservatories in the country. In 2004, she opened a second shop in Montréal, Quebec, and lives and works between Canada and the U.S.