Love of making

It's in my blood. I can't stop. When I think of being marooned on a desert island I don't always imagine what albums or movies I'd take. Instead I panic over the thought of not having supplies and tools! How would I solder on the deserted island? Would I work much like the Tuareg do? ….casting metal in small fires and using their feet to hold the mold still. I love working with my hands. I love processes, filing the end of a rivet flat and smooth so it sets nicely, sanding and polishing an edge so it feels silky to the touch. Taking the time to refine... I adore texture too. I find such joy in causing things to come into being. I think if I really were marooned, I'd find palm wood and a sharp shell and get to work making something.

Like many artists, making things has been with me since childhood. I spent many hours making tiny things for my doll house, turning my horses into circus performers, making dolls out of walnuts and hickory nuts and clothes pins with dust motes floating about my head in the late afternoon sunlight. I just never stopped. My creative life has been a string of reinventions- painting, printmaking, ceramics and finally metal. I was 36 when a teacher of mine at a workshop kept insisting that I needed to go to back to grad school for an MFA. As a small fish in a small pond with a 5 year old, I just couldn't see it. But the seed grew and eventually I could not ignore the call. I went back to school at 38. Yes, I stayed a semester in a dorm! I ate ramen noodles and oatmeal to survive, what with no job and taking a full art schedule. Still, I did it, with the help of family and friends. My daughter is thankful she got to see me change my life. She got to participate in the magic of art college. Now I share what I do with other students. I teach Metals and Jewelry at Cape Fear Community College, and most of the time it's pretty awesome.

My work

is flavored by my long fascination with human history and anthropology. My parents loved natural history and anthropology. They were always taking us to museums, historical sites and battlefields. I am also a member of the Miami of Oklahoma Tribe. I often use textures and images from many cultures in my work. There is such rich cultural fodder out there. In many ways I will forever be a student myself and I love reflecting my interests by etching or enameling designs onto metal.


My Mission

Quality craftsmanship and intriguing design are aspects that I cultivate in my artwork. My hope is that my joy in the processes I use, translates to the recipient through the feel of the piece once it arrives in their hands. Metal is nearly always a tactile experience. Door handles, implements, jewelry, we are in skin contact with it. I want my work to feel wonderful, no matter what it is made of.
From my hands to yours.

If you are exploring jewelry, and have found your way to Melissa Manley’s studio — trust me, you are lucky, because Melissa’s work is Truly Very Special. Her work is exquisitely designed and created. Her jewelry not only looks great - (more nuanced and lovely than photos can depict), but feel... well, joyful to wear!
— happy Etsy customer