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A Simple Start- The Beginning of Simply Wood Rings

In 2005, my wife helped me realize that all questions have an answer. 

She asked, “Can you make a wood wedding ring?”
My answer was “Yes.. but…”

In woodworking, you, as the woodworker, will be the only one that knows where your mistakes lie, in any given creation. The mentality that there is only one way of doing something is what kept me from seeing the wonderfully simple beauty in the question “Can you make a wood ring?”.

First, there is the question of durability that needs an answer. As a woodworker, you have a learned that “the world is flat” quite literally, thanks to the industrial revolution. You cut, drill, plane, sand or otherwise abuse this very natural material that we call wood. It is all done in the name of speed and efficiency all the while killing the spirit and soul of the woodworker in the process. 

So when my wife asked me, can I make a wood wedding ring, I quickly dismissed the notion. I wasn’t listening to my wife; she didn’t ask if it would be strong, or if people would like it. She wasn’t asking if people would fall in love with these little wooden rings that manifest human emotion, or if we would post the first wooden ring on Etsy. She didn’t ask if it would end up cutting a groove so deep that hundreds of “would-be woodworkers” would be able to give the world and alternative to the traditional wedding ring. She wasn’t asking to create a wood wedding ring that would connect us with thousands of the best customers the world has to offer.

Provided wood from our customers
Gus & Juanita

She simply asked… “Can you make a wood ring?”

As simple as, I like to say, my wife’s question was, she understood that to answer life’s most straightforward questions was enough, beyond that, we are filling life with things we believe are essential and only work to obscure what is truly wonderful about life.

After all these years, I continue to find peace and purpose in life, telling customer’s stories with these little wood wedding rings. After I had dismissed the idea, my wife asked again, “Can you bend wood?”, I finally knew the answer to the question. She was a fan of Ames bentwood furniture, so I told her that wood would bend within limitations, but not thick enough to be durable to be worn every day. She let me sit a few days then showed me a piece of paper rolled itself, and that’s the moment it clicked. The world was round! 

We have not looked back since that moment, and after our woodworking journey spans more than 20 years and still going, Simply Wood Rings will continue giving the world an eco-friendly alternative to traditional wedding rings. “Can you make a wood ring?” is a simple question that gets me out of bed every morning excited to try and answer. 

Thank you to my wife, Juanita, for that simple question and all the fantastic customers that understand life exists in the wonderfully simple parts!

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An apple a day… finds you a husband!

Under the Apple Tree

One couple told us the story of spending a whole summer under an old apple tree. They passed the time in the shade of the tree, lost in each other. We made a set of rings from the wood of that apple tree where their two paths intertwined for the rest of their days. We always encourage our customers to provide their own materials so that what we create for them is something deeply symbolic and unique. What type of wood would you use to make a special ring? 

applewood ring

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Coming Full Circle

Gustav Reyes and Simply Wood Rings are excited to be featured on Whole Food’s online magazine, Dark Rye. We were visited by their film crew at the beginning of October for filming. We enjoyed showing the crew around our neighborhood, and connecting them with our story so they could share it with others. Thanks to all involved including Dark Rye, our customers Megan and Kelly, and Chicago Fretworks.

Coming Full Circle from Dark Rye on Vimeo.

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Gustav featured in Metalsmith Magazine

Gustav Reyes was honored to be featured in the June issue of Metalsmith Magazine. Metal working is an ancient form of creating jewelry and a time honored tradition. Having Gustav and Simply Wood Rings featured in Metalsmith is a testament to how far green wedding design has come in jewelry. There is now more acceptance of this niche market in traditional mediums. The young people are driving the trends of this country, and to see our niche become more popular is reassuring of the values of the up and coming.

Metalsmith magazine highlights Gustav’s modernist approach and ethical sensibility in an in-depth profile by Andrea DiNoto.

This article was first published in Metalsmith, the art journal from the Society of North American Goldsmiths, the association for artists, jewelers, designers and metalsmiths.

Read the full article!

Metal smith Cover

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Gustav Reyes in the Niche – Simply Wood Rings

This morning, I had the pleasure of seeing my work featured in the newest issue of NICHE Magazine. As part of the “Reclaim, Reuse, Recycle” article, it was such an honor to be featured alongside several artists and craftspeople whose work is governed by the same environmental concerns and practices. It was especially meaningful to see that NICHE, an established publication in the art and fine craft world, geared particularly towards small business retailers, devoted the entire summer issue to “green” work. I see this is an indication that “green” is moving finally from trend to lasting way of life.

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Why I do what I do.

I recently celebrated my birthday, and with that came some time to reflect. I took a break from the mad rush of life and the draining desire to live every single moment—I stopped to exhale. As the big day approached, my wife asked if there was anything special I wanted to do. But there wasn’t much I was interested in doing to celebrate the day of my birth. That’s sad, you say. Well, my wife said the same thing. Not in so many words, but I sensed her concern that I may not be taking the passing of the years as well as I made it seem. So we spent the morning out with the kids. We made it back to the house and had some cake, at which point I decided to take some photos. And right there in the viewfinder, I breathed the oxygen of life, the essence of what makes life what it is. I snapped many photos that day. I decided to share with you the one that captured what I felt. In that moment, I did not long for the next; I knew this was life – simple, quiet, still. I inhaled. My wife and boys helped me to be still for just a moment. I’m forever grateful I have the time to do what I do.


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Creating Art

One of the most satisfying things about creating art is that it can come from anything and anywhere. I have been working on some new sculptural pieces that will be listed on the site in the couple of next weeks or so. I’m excited where this work is going and where its coming from. For sometime now I have been very interested in the idea of decay. Mostly the process of decay and what it means to us as humans and how we react to it. The idea that decay carries a negative connotation is something I explored in some of the new pieces. Rust is an element that I have connected with on a visceral level. Using rust as an inlay in a wooden ring was very much an experiment with a pleasant visual outcome. I like to use materials such as rust, concrete or sand all just as precious to the soul as any gemstone. One question that I ask my self as I work is – As we walk through this life what will I carrie with me through this journey? A symbol of permanence or a visual representation if one of life’s wondrous process – decay.