Rolling With Missy Graff Ballone of Wellness For Makers

At what age did you start creating and what were you making?

I’ve been creating since I was a child, but my interests have obviously changed and developed over the years. Until I was a teenager, I wanted to be a cartoonist because I loved drawing funny little characters and making my friends laugh. As I got older, I became interested in painting and drawing. While I was in college, I took my first fine metals class and quickly learned that I enjoy working three-dimensionally the most.

What was the first job you ever had?

Outside of babysitting or pet-sitting, my first official job was washing dishes at a local bar and restaurant when I was sixteen. It was a crappy job, but I tried to make the most of it and have fun anyway. Unfortunately, they were illegally overworking me to the point that it was affecting my grades. When my high school found out, they called the owner and threatened to get the restaurant shut down. It wasn’t the best experience, but I saved enough money to travel and pay for my car. 

Your MFA is in metals, what types of art are you making now?

Yes, the focus of my MFA was in Metals/Jewelry. Contemporary Jewelry itself is a very broad subject where the jewelry may or may not be made of metal. In my artwork, I use materials that can mimic the connective tissues that bind the body’s internal structures together. I want the viewer to feel compelled to interact with my work by stretching or compressing the material, so I use a skin-safe silicone rubber that can be stretched to two or three times its normal length. The purpose of this type of interaction is to prompt the viewer to think about their own strengths and limitations and their relationship to the body. I primarily make necklaces because the neck is the most common area in which people recognize that they have tension. In addition to contemporary jewelry, I have been working on a series of tactile paintings to explore these ideas in a new format.

As you studied art, yoga, massage and mindfulness, were these always interconnected for you, or was there an "a-ha" moment when you realized they should all be interconnected with wellness at the core?

These experiences are all naturally connected for me and have expanded my understanding of the body in different ways. My training for Massage Therapy was my first introduction to anatomy and physiology. It also forced me to consider how the repetitive motions of massage therapy could affect my body if I didn’t use proper body mechanics. My work experience as a Massage Therapist had a huge influence on my tactile understanding of the body. My 500-hour Yoga Teacher Training added so much more. It provided me with the opportunity to internalize all of this information in a new way that is difficult to articulate. My perspective of the body continues to get deeper with every class I attend. I am constantly blown away by how much there is to learn about the body and all of the little “a-ha” moments that come along with the process.



What inspired Wellness for Makers?

I have always had an interest in the body. A few years ago, I was having a conversation with a group of artists about the pain that they were experiencing in their hands as a result of their studio practices. One of them said “We are all going to end up with arthritis, so we might as well just suck it up and deal with it.” That was an important moment for me. It was very alarming to hear my peers expressing that pain and repetitive strain injuries are just something that artists should accept. I don’t believe that artists need to sacrifice their health in order to make their work. So that night I went back to my room and started looking for resources. I couldn’t find a central resource for artists about these topics, so I decided to create one. Wellness for Makers is constantly evolving and I love the process of finding new ways to serve the community.


What types of feedback have you received from your customers and event attendees?

The feedback has been great! Most of the artists I talk to have been incredibly responsive to the information. Education about the body is empowering, especially when the techniques are so accessible. My workshops and events really give people a chance to have fun and connect to what they’re feeling in their bodies. Their excitement and interest validates the need for more of this type of education.

How did you find out about RistRoller?

When I decided to create Wellness for Makers, I knew that I would be developing workshops and that I wanted to incorporate my knowledge of massage therapy. So, I started researching different companies that make massage and self-care tools. There are a lot of crappy tools out there, but I wanted to find high quality products. I was really excited when I came across Rist Roller because I wanted to support another woman-owned small business.

You mentioned that RistRoller is a big seller for you. What type of feedback do you receive? What benefits does RistRoller bring to the table for you and other makers?

Without my hands, I literally would not be able to work. They help me create my art, manage my business, practice yoga, and take care of myself. I know that a lot of other artists also look at their hands as their most important tool. The RistRoller helps to increase blood flow and circulation in the forearms, hands, and wrists. Regular use helps to hydrate connective tissues, alleviate pain, and elongate the muscles in the forearms. So, the Rist Roller is fantastic to have on your workbench or desk. I love how my hands, forearms, and elbows feel after using it. I love that it can also be used on the legs and feet. It’s a feel-good tool that I am proud to carry. Everyone I show the RistRoller to loves it.

For people who feel the nudge that they should be creating or "doing their own thing" instead of working for someone else... what advice do you have?

I believe that we’re all creative people. Sometimes, if you can’t find the right opportunity for you, you have to go out and create one. It takes believing in yourself, being ready to hustle, having a plan, and allowing it to evolve. Remember, you might have to do more than one thing at a time as you develop strategies that work well for you.

In sharing Wellness for Makers, I imagine you get to be around great people. Can you tell me a little bit about how it feels to get to surround yourself with them?

Yes! I am constantly meeting inspiring creatives from all over the country. I love building community and engaging in so many awesome conversations. The excitement and interest of the community motivates me. I continue learning so I can teach the most relevant and up-to-date information about the body. If you’re interested in joining the community and learning more, grab your Free Mini-Guide to Happy Healthy Hands!

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