Trying to live by this motto from Victorian designer and craftsman William Morris.
An unabashed and unapologetic original, street photographer Vivian Maier compulsively documented her surroundings on film, but never showed her photos to anyone. Consistently taking photos over the course of five decades, she would ultimately leave over 100,000 negatives, most of them shot in Chicago and New York City. Vivian would further indulge in her passionate devotion to documenting the world around her through homemade films, recordings and collections, assembling one of the most fascinating windows into American life in the second half of the twentieth century.
See more of her work and history on vivianmaier.com
Melissa Joy Manning’s jewelry has been described as “Joyful. Spiritual. Unique. Empowering.”
I was able to interview Melissa, gain insight into her design process, and she even shared a recipe for a scallop ceviche. Read on, then shop her fabulous jewelry!
Your work honors the raw beauty of your materials. I’m fascinated by the geology and history evident in each piece. Tell us about the stones and how you source your materials.
Each of the stones I use is unique. Unlike cut gems, no two are alike; it is the diversity of shape and originality of color that make each of the stones I use interesting, collectible and engaging. I am intrigued by the history of objects. Using metamorphic stones in my work, I am bringing nature to the wearer. Druzys and Agates are formed in beautiful occurrences; they encapsulate the history of the earth’s development- lightning storms, plate drifts, volcanic eruptions, even asteroid landings. It is this knowledge, that I am holding a piece of nature’s history in my hands, which impels me to make jewelry of these stones.
Sourcing some of these stones can be difficult- A lot of the gems and minerals I use are South American. I have trusted suppliers with whom I meet every year. At that time I dig through their vast supplies and look for the most interesting stones I can find. Beautiful color, age rings, surface texture- these are all things I am looking for when I purchase a stone.
I love the elegance of your settings. Delicate links, chains, and prongs create interesting contrast with the substantial stones in your designs, how does your education in Mexican silversmithing influence your metal work?
I’m a metal purist. I love French jewelers- the over the top elements, the Rococo quality in some of the work. However, at this stage of my career, I’m all about the purity of line. For some reason I enjoy allowing the stone to speak for itself. I often lay them out, one by one, on a desk and walk by them for months before I can even think of designing with them. Then one day I have it- the piece has come through and it’s just a matter of making it. Studying in Mexico has enabled me to work cleanly with a material and give it an inherent respect. Many other schools of design do not honor the simplicity of a Mexican esthetic; the fluidity of line, the simplicity of plane and excellent craftsmanship. Having had the opportunity to study under a Mexican master metal smith has shaped my understanding of craft and has allowed me to honor my instinctual respect for natural materials and honorable workmanship.
Your background in art history, and interest in indigenous culture is evident in your timeless collections. Is there a particular culture you find yourself drawing inspiration from more than others?
I have always felt compelled to honor the histories of our ancestors. The tradition of tribal craft has forever inspired me. My original collection (designed in 1997) incorporated teeth and bone and was influenced by Non-Western Culture. It is said that when you take an animal you are to honor ALL parts of it. In using teeth, claws and fur, tribes were giving thanks to the spirit of an animal for giving its life for their survival. They also believed that wearing the relics of a killed animal imbued the spirit of the animal into the wearer- carrying its spirit into the future while simultaneously imbuing the aspects of that animal’s spirit into the wearer. I absolutely love this precept of gratitude, history, spirituality and responsibility. Many of these ideals are still alive today in Africa. I was able to visit Kenya last year- it was a truly amazing experience. However, as amazing as it was, I can’t truly claim that there is any ONE culture that has inspired me more than another. I think, for me, it’s been more about learning as much as I can from all Non-Western cultures and assembling their mark in my collections.
How do you think your pieces are best worn? Do you envision a wearer when you’re designing?
Never. I love the idea that my jewelry is being worn by someone I don’t know! It’s kind of cool that a piece I designed will go out into the world and begin it’s own life…and have a new history when, or if, I ever see it again. The idea that someone treasures something I have had the privilege of making is inspiring. I spent hours as a kid digging through both my mom’s and grandmother’s jewelry boxes. Continuing my personal history by creating pieces for future imaginary dress up is so wonderful- I guess I think more about this then if someone is going to sport my necklace with a wife beater and flip flops or a designer ball gown! (But for the record, I think both would be equally acceptable and gorgeous!)
Do you have a favorite piece in your personal collection of jewelry?
I have some amazing tribal pieces that are extraordinary examples of talismanic objects. Holding them is an honor…imagining how they were worn and who wore them is beyond inspiring. Sometimes I imagine a tribe hurling through the jungle on a hunt (witness the Duran Duran Hungry Like A Wolf influence here!) Or women encircling a camp fire sharing oral traditions…. I also have a ring that I can’t seem to take off. It was given to me by one of my favorite Afghan gem vendors on September 10th 2001. The ring was once a men’s stick pin. It is a disc inscribed with the Muslim prayer of protection. I think the timing of my acquisition of the ring was extraordinary. It serves to constantly remind me that every person is capable of beauty. I also think it is a powerful example of how adornment can speak to a culture and reflect identity. I am constantly stopped by people and asked if I made my ring. When I tell the inquirer the true maker and history of my treasure I can see a marked reaction. It is wonderful that something as simple as a ring can change an idea of a culture and make someone think beyond the propaganda of a society. Honestly, I think it’s the pieces that hold the most history and impact that I value the most. I only hope that one of my pieces will live as long and be as treasured as some of the pieces I have in my collection.
Do you cook? Do you have a favorite recipe to share with our readers?
I love to cook. Right now I am obsessed with ceviche. The heat in NYC is cloying- almost like it’s alive. Cooling off and eating lighter foods is essential! I don’t really have a recipe but I’ll give it a shot…
Dice 1/2 pound fresh scallops. Cover with lime juice and salt & pepper. Place in refrigerator and allow to rest for 1 hour.
Meanwhile: dice two red, ripe tomatoes, 1/2 a yellow onion, 1 jalapeno and 1/2 a bunch cilantro. Mix together with the juice of a lime and more salt & pepper. Allow to sit for an hour.
After an hour, mix scallops with a good ratio of the fresh salsa cruda you have just prepared. Allow this mixture to sit for another hour to hour and a half. Top with chopped cilantro and serve with tortilla chips, a salad or plain old saltines. If you want to be really fancy dice up an avocado and mix that in too. And hey, if this doesn’t work change it up until it does. Like all things, ceviche should be made to your own taste! Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to share so much with you! It is an honor.
Thank you Melissa!
This Melissa Joy Manning interview is originally from July 25, 2007
Each piece of Melissa Joy Manning jewelry is handmade in her Berkeley, California studio by a team of skilled artisans. Her jewelry has been featured in numerous magazines, feature films, and television programs. Melissa’s celebrity clients include Jennifer Aniston, Sheryl Crow, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Debra Messing, Usher, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. In 2011 Melissa was inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Shop Melissa Joy Manning!
You’re Invited! Join us on Saturday May 3rd for a trunk show with two of our favorite local designers! Shop a special spring collection from Aviva Rose jewelry and Henry & Belle Jeans. Save 20% on your trunk show order when you purchase two items from Aviva Rose or purchase two items from Henry & Belle. Just in time for Mother’s Day, take one for yourself and we’ll wrap one for Mom!
In-store event at Art Effect 934 W. Armitage Ave. 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
About Henry & Belle
More than jeans, Henry & Belle is an endearing love story about family, fashion and philanthropy… Henry Mann and his wife Belle started designing in the garment district of Chicago in 1931. Inspired by Belle’s confident character and chic sophistication, Henry designed each style with Belle as his muse. They always focused on the highest quality fabrics and finishes. As their success grew, so did their commitment to give back to their community. Today the Mann family continues to fulfill this tradition of craftsmanship and humanitarianism. By wearing Henry & Belle jeans, you help raise awareness and funds for diverse issues we support in your local community.
About Aviva Rose Jewelry
A love of jewelry and an instinctive ability to create is what led Pamela Cohen to where she is today: the designer, founder, owner and creator of Aviva Rose. Living in the suburbs of Chicago, Pamela uses her passion and enthusiasm to find unique and unusual pieces from around the world. She gives much of the credit of her unique creativity to her two muses: her daughters Franki Aviva and Gabi Rose. The name of her line represents that commitment and love, and her desire to continually create a variety of magnificent pieces seems boundless.
Hope to see you there!
Love this quote from poet Mary Oliver.
This month’s House Beautiful includes the magazine’s first ever coast to coast guide of the best design stores in America. From New York to LA, they’ve picked 8 neighborhoods to feature, each with unique shops to inspire you to keep decorating. Our very own Lincoln Park’s dynamic shopping scene is highlighted and we’re thrilled to be on the selective list!
Here’s what they said about us: “A beloved boutique with hot-pink walls that reflect its outside-the-box vibe. Owl bookends and monogrammed tumblers share shelf space with decorative handcrafted ribbons and vintage charts.”
See the whole story over at House Beautiful.