I wrote this post in May 2011 when Mick, my husband-to-be, and I made our own wedding rings.
To celebrate the relaunch of jeweller Donna Barry’s website and to commemorate the true legacy that making can brings, I’ve updated the blog for May 2016 at the end of the piece:
A few months ago I heard about a new initiative at Coburg House Studios, where soon-to-be-married couples have the opportunity to make their own wedding rings. As the enthusiastic marketeer of craft that I am and, more significantly, as one half of a soon-to-be-married couple I rushed home to tell my fiancé, Mick. I didn’t expect his reaction to be quite so enthusiastic and before I knew it we were signed up to take part in Donna Barry and Hannah Louise Lamb’s new workshop. What had I got myself in to?
As ‘Wedding Ring Day’ got closer, Mick became more excited and I became more nervous. Last Saturday morning we arrived at the Studios at 10.30am where we were greeted with smiles, reassurances and strong coffee. Hannah and Donna immediately put me at my ease, informing me that if I found any part of the process too tricky they would take over to ensure that we left with professional looking rings. Having already provided our measurements, preferred style of ring and chosen metal a few weeks earlier, the strips of metal were waiting for us in the studio.
Hannah and Donna then spent the morning demonstrating each step whilst explaining the science behind each technique. One of the first things we had to do was soak the metal in a solution (I’m not going to pretend I remember the terms and nor do I have to – this wasn’t work but a day of indulgence where I could use my hands and a pair of pliers instead of a keyboard and an iPhone) so that the particles that were packed really tightly together could relax and slowly begin to make the metals more flexible.
Within an hour it was as if I had been dipped in the solution too as my nerves had almost fallen away. However when it came to taking a pair of pliers to the strip of 18ct white gold that was to become Mick’s wedding ring I was a little scared in case I damaged it beyond repair (not possible according to our brilliant tutors) but also incredibly proud and delighted when I got each side to marry up into a ‘circle.’ The ‘circle’ was more like a rectangle to be honest but it was early in the day.
The part I had dreaded the most was soldering, and not only did I do a great job but it was also one of the quickest steps in the ring-making process.
After lunch we then got the mallets out and bashed the metal to within an inch of its life until – suddenly – they became ring shaped. At this point we decided not to look at each other’s work so that we could do a big reveal at the end. Sanding and polishing was done secretly in opposite corners of the room, in the way school kids shield their best work from the eyes of their fellow students.
And this was my best work. I haven’t created much in my life that didn’t involve a computer or a pen. The satisfaction and the joy and the “did I really do that?” that I felt when the wedding band that I had made for my soon-to-be husband came out of the fancy polishing machine will never be forgotten. If we have children and grandchildren we will sit them on our knees and describe to them what we did in that studio, together and in love. In the meantime I have told Herbert, our tortoise.
The day ended with our big reveal to each other of two professional-looking, handmade, unique wedding bands. This is why I love arts marketing and this is why I love craft. I’m on my own audience development journey now. The woman who didn’t enjoy making things is now on the lookout for the next workshop.
For more information on the Make Your Own Wedding Rings workshops, please visit www.makeweddingrings.co.uk
I’ve not read the blog post above since I first wrote it five years ago, so reading it back now makes me smile.
“If we have children and grandchildren we will sit them on our knees and describe to them what we did in that studio.”
In 2013 we did have a child and over the past eighteen months or so we have done exactly what I said we would do. Our little boy, sat perched on my lap, asking “what’s dat?”
Before he could speak we would put our wedding rings on his toes and he would giggle. The memories of the day with Donna and Hannah flood back every time we take a moment to truly re-examine our bands, and bringing our little one in to the fold of happy thoughts is magical. After months of explaining that we made our own wedding rings because we love each other and we wanted to commit to each other in this small but hugely meaningful way, he now knows this to be true. Now he wants to know why Grandad’s wedding ring wasn’t handmade by Granny.
The joy of making our own rings hasn’t subsided, in fact if anything the experience has continued long after we stepped away from the soldering iron. Knowing that one day our son will inherit our handmade rings, along with the stories and photos of the day we made them, is magical.