Melissa Joy Manning has been creating jewelry for over 20 years, always honoring traditional metalsmithing techniques by hand-building her pieces. Now, with one studio in California and another in New York, she has her own line inspired by a love of travel, art, and culture.
These past few weeks, the trained jeweler has been spending much more time at home due to COVID-19. Melissa shared with us how she’s been keeping her spirits lifted and the many self-projects she’s started, in addition to continuing to operate her business.
Have you started practicing a new daily ritual that you didn’t have time for or that you didn’t feel the need for previously?
I'm not sure if it's a ritual, but I've been making time for things I couldn't fit in before. And, they are things I know will stay. Namely, I've been taking time to mend. I've always hated throwing anything away and now, with a four year old boy who rips everything, there is more need than ever for some intentional mending in our home. I've really been enjoying sitting for an hour, sewing by hand and making old new again.
Did you start reading or watching anything recently that brings you comfort?
I've been watching Ugly Delicious when I can. Oddly it feels so bizarre to watch the world when it was safe to go to restaurants, shop in grocery stores, and laugh and talk together over a meal. Somehow, I always end up crying but know that the days will come again. And, that when they do, I will never take them for granted. But, when I need a complete unplug, I am in love with Schitt's Creek. I'm late to that party so I have seasons upon seasons to watch! It always makes me laugh out loud.
“I'm still freaked out and scared of what will happen, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let it dictate my actions or mood. I'm going to be happy and enjoy the time with my family, and advocate for equitable change now more than ever. Channeling this anxiety into positive thought and action has been restorative and calming.”
Melissa Joy Manning's Berkeley Store
Soldering at the studio
Staying home has meant more time to be in the kitchen for us. Have you been cooking? Have you discovered any nourishing recipes that are your favorite right now?
Oh my gosh, yes. I've been cooking every meal for my family. From buckwheat pancakes from scratch, to soups and pickling, anytime not working or playing with my son is spent in the kitchen. I made Adobo Ribs last night and they were amazing. My son loves meat so I've been braising and making a lot of comforting dishes now—I certainly have the time for them!
Any playlists or artists you can share for focusing while working, unwinding in the evening, or releasing pent up energy any time of day?
Weirdly, I've been trying to enjoy the silence. We have so much noise in the City that any moment of stillness is something I relish. But my partner has been vibing on the D-Nice live sessions so we do tend to end every day with a dance party.
It can be hard to get exercise when we’re inside most of the day. Have you found fun ways to get physical activity in?
D-Nice dance parties have been super engaging. My son and I also like Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube. It's fun to do kid's yoga to a story!
Have you begun any unexpected projects?
LOL. I am actually rearranging our entire house. We were going to move before Corona hit so I had gotten used to the idea of change. When we decided to stay, I channeled that energy into making our current home new. I've already done our living room, my son's room, and added a "library" to our hallway (it was huge). I'm in the process of my room now, but realize I have to slow down or I will end up with nothing to do!
If you’re currently working from home, what helps you balance home life from work life? Do you have any boundaries between the two that keep you productive?
I WISH. My son thinks Corona is a stay-at-home vacation. And, since I can't do much besides apply for grants and work on marketing, I am choosing to follow his lead. Otherwise, I think I would be paralyzed by anxiety. Basically, I go to check in our store once or twice a week and bang everything out at once. I also get some stuff done while he naps. Otherwise, my work load entails a lot of legos and magnatiles.
How have you been staying connected to family, friends, and the outside world?
I recently got HouseParty and have been really enjoying it. We also Duo or FaceTime family and friends.
Any tips for boosting our immune systems and staying healthy?
I have been taking oregano oil (it's a natural anti-viral), catching up on sleep, and drinking lots of water. I think it's important to remain positive too—I've been relying on a group of fellow women creatives for daily inspiration and sharing. Knowing we aren't alone is really important.
Finishing a ring at the studio
Do you have any general/overall advice for remaining calm during this period? What has felt restorative for you?
I struggle with anxiety. When this first started, my anxiety overwhelmed me. I was almost incapicated by it. I wasn't sleeping, wasn't eating. It was awful. But then I remembered—we never know what tomorrow holds, none of us do. My reaction was one of privilege.
What about all the people who already live in fear? Those who don't know where their next meal is coming from? Whose children only eat when they are in school? Who work 3 jobs? Who have no clean water? Who walk for thousands of miles to escape famine and hardship? These feelings aren't new. They are just new to me. Realizing this made me change my perspective.
Don't get me wrong—I'm still freaked out and scared of what will happen, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let it dictate my actions or mood. I'm going to be happy and enjoy the time with my family, and advocate for equitable change now more than ever. Channeling this anxiety into positive thought and action has been restorative and calming.
SEE MELISSA JOY MANNING'S COLLECTION ON OUR WEBSITE
Interview by Ivy Schneider
Images by Melissa Joy Manning