Claire and Georg, celebrating their engagement
I am often incredibly touched by the stories that accompany the gifts of jewelry that I make. Sometimes, the jewelry is a physical aspect of the most beautiful aspects of being human. It was my honor to be part of one of those very special stories this spring.
Claire is a friend from way back. In fact my parents have been friends with her parents since we were infants. Claire and I became close in high school, when a year in between grades becomes a little bit less significant. We often spent time together watching movies followed by eating diner sundaes. After I moved to New York, I was delighted when Claire followed a few years later, becoming a teacher in the NYC school district. We now live a ten minute walk from each other in Brooklyn.
Besides being a very dedicated teacher, Claire is also a very talented photographer, with a specialty in street photography. Her portfolio is on flickr, and she has some amazing photos there. Really, check out her photos.
Through the photography community, Claire had the good fortune to meet Georg, another talented photographer. After admiring each others' photos, it came to be that Claire and Georg met, when he visited NY from Germany, and they also fell in love with each other! This is such a wonderful turn of events, that I get watery-eyed even writing about it.
I was so honored and delighted when I received a message that they had become engaged, with a request for me to make a suitable engagement ring. I immediately thought of the ring shown above, mostly due to a ring that Claire loves to wear, passed down to her by her mother, and this ring leads to yet another layer of this family story.
Claire's mother, Paula is from Portugal, and her father is from Germany. They met while studying English in London. After meeting, Paula left to work in Mozambique, and Claire's ring is a memento of her mother's time in Africa. While she was in Africa, she was writing to Paul, and they had their own long-distance love story. Eventually, they were reunited, married and moved to my hometown of Racine, WI.
Paula is possession of gold British imperial coins, which were passed down to her by her relatives, so I was requested to make the ring the ring out of this gold and I readily agreed. As the coins very high karat gold, when I made the recipe for the gold for Claire's ring, I had the choice to make a redder color of gold, matching the color of the ring from Mozambique.
With all of these various strands coming together, as they do for all couples, making wedding bands is a wonderful things indeed!
It is very common for the word wrought to be paired with iron. It appears that my work may be wrought iron, since it is often blackened and inspired by wrought iron. However, by seeing the definitions below, it appears that wrought applies not only to iron, but many materials (and even essays). My purpose is to evoke the beauty of wrought iron, but to express that the jewelry is wrought with my hammer. I think that definitions 1, 2, and 4 definitely apply, and I hope that definition 5 also applies.
1: worked into shape by artistry or effort <carefully wrought essays>
2: elaborately embellished : ornamented
3: processed for use : manufactured <wrought silk>
4: beaten into shape by tools : hammered —used of metals
5: deeply stirred : excited —often used with up <gets easily wrought up over nothing>
"wrought." Merriam-Webster.com. 2011. http://www.merriam-webster.com (July 3 2011)
Wrought Panel Pendant
silver and 18K
Click to the Wrought Collection above to have a look at more "Wrought" pieces!
I was recently organizing my bookshelf a bit and came upon a National Geographic magazine from April 1977. This particular issue, which came to my hands by way of an estate sale, has had more influence on the course of my life than any other piece of writing. My mother had bought the magazines in order to make paper beads, but luckily this issue was spared, and I was able to come upon it on my winter break during freshman year in college.
I had always known that I would want to study abroad, but I somehow knew that going to Europe was not going to be my choice. I sought a more complete re-ordering of my world view. When I read, in this article about Nepal, that the author had to walk three weeks to get to this remote region on the Tibetan border, I almost couldn't believe
that such a place still existed in
today's world. I thought of all of the things I was attached to in my
life and wondered if I could live without for a year. I took it on as a
personal challenge of the greatest magnitude.
I didn't walk on this exact trail, but I walked on a few similar to this.
It turns out that I never made it to the specific region (Dolpo), that is mentioned in the article, but I did end up spending two years living in Nepal. Reading it again, I find that it is laced with the seduction of exoticism, but then again, if it wasn't, would it really have gotten a young midwesterner like me to get her first passport, learn Nepali and commit to a year in distant country? The second year was on a Fulbright a couple of years after the first experience.
Painting by Tsering of Dolpo depicting the sacred mountain of Dolpo, called Shey (crystal mountain).
One of the things that strikes me so many years later is that there was a photo of a thangka painting in the original article, and that, as much as the article itself, was what got me hooked. This was my first exposure to Himalayan art, which has been a constant source of inspiration and a subject of study for me ever since. I still love the clouds (and have traced their history through history from the Uighurs to Mongolia to China, Korea and Tibet), and the way that rocks are represented. I did make it to the lower Dolpo valley, which is not a restricted area like the Upper Dolpo region in the article, and found that the rocks really do look like that!