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, studying 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 in major symphony orchestras throughout Europe and Asia.
In 1985, Ashley moved to Boston, where she began to focus primarily on building cellos. She has made over 130 instruments, owned and played by professional orchestra and chamber musicians, students, and faculty at the top conservatories in the country. In 2004, she opened a second shop in Montréal, Quebec; she currently divides her time between Canada and the U. S.