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The Story of Julie’s Wood Rings

This is Julie here, you may know me as one of the friendly email respondents (unless you’ve talked to Sara or Matthew, they’re also pretty friendly- especially when you give them snacks).

I’m here to tell you the story behind my husband and I’s wedding rings and what they mean to us, but first I will tell the story of how we met.  3

John and I met in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (via one of the online dating sites, we were both skeptical about the whole process at the time, but no longer!), while I was still in grad school earning my MFA and he had just graduated law school.  We met at a local coffee shop down by the lake and proceeded to have the best date of our lives, unable to stop talking we walked around the lake for hours and then decided to continue our date with dinner and then a movie.

Almost a year later, one MFA later, and one almost healed broken ankle later (his), we decided to move to back to Chicago where he was from.  On our one year anniversary we went out to celebrate and he surprised me by proposing down by Lake Michigan (in Chicago this time)!

When it came time to decide on what type of wedding rings we wanted I had been working at Simply Wood Rings for a while where I would ogle the wooden rings on the daily.  It seemed the obvious choice to have our rings made by Simply Wood Rings.

materials

We wanted to use wood that was special to us from the places we came from and wood from where we met.  For the outside of the rings we choose the rosewood that we have in the shop at SWR.  The rosewood is not only amazing for how beautiful the wood is but also because it is a piece of Chicago history having been salvaged from an old Xylophone factory that shut down here in Chicago.  For the lining of our rings we used a 100 year old maple floor board that our friend salvaged from the Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee after it’s renovation.

Ring boxes

Since we didn’t want to use a third wood in our rings we decided to use a piece of wood from my home state of South Carolina for our ring boxes instead.  For the boxes my parents lovingly trimmed (I’m sure with very little grumbling), a broken branch from the dogwood tree in their backyard and sent it to me.

 

We decided to also get my vintage engagement ring capped with the rosewood and lined with the maple to match my wedding band.

SWR Julie Doherty capped engagement ring

For my wedding band I chose a woven design with two lines that interweave around the ring.

Rosewood woven design ringFor one line I used some pearls that I inherited from my late grandmother, and for the other line I wanted a mixture of malachite, chrysocolla, and turquoise to match the emerald in my engagement ring.

 

 

Rosewood Meteorite Dinosaur Bone

 

For my husband’s ring he chose to have a line of meteorite and a line of dinosaur bone, if for no other reason than because those materials are just awesome.

We love our rings and I’m grateful to the talented crafts-people at Simply Wood Rings for creating something so beautiful for us!

Thank you for reading my story, I hope it inspires you to think about what meaningful materials you can use in your own ring.  What WOOD your story be?

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Guitar + Xylophone = Ring

At a show a few years ago, a gentleman approached Gustav: he had worked for a now-defunct Chicago xylophone factory for years, and had collected out-of-tune rosewood keys throughout his career. He’d never found a real use for them. Now he was clearing out his house and wanted to know, did Gustav want them? Of course the answer was a resounding (ha!) YES.

We’re so proud of this beautiful custom ring, made with that rosewood and a client-supplied guitar string. Check out how well the metallic spring of the string combines with the super-rich and multi-tonal wood. What could be more visually musical?

Guitar Xylophone Ring

Want to own your own guitar string ring? Head over to our Custom Orders page to start the show!

Want to reuse the rest of the guitar, too?

Check out this ingenious/melodic home from Fairy Meadows Miniatures!

Fairy Meadow Guitar Minatures

Perhaps something a bit more pragmatic and everyday?

Everyone needs more shelving! (via Apartment Therapy/Recyclart)

Guitar Shelf Recycle art

Reusing is all about innovation, and we love that!

For a peek at our in-stock rosewood rings, check out the shop! 

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Norm Sartorius and Recycled Wood

Last week we had a really fun customer come by our studio in Chicago. We were walking around the shop, and looking at all the different woods we have, and we started looking at this box of just little scrap pieces of wood. Each piece we pulled out of the box was more exciting than the last. We eventually found the right piece of wood for him, you’ll see his ring below. But we wanted to share these cool pieces of wood with you!

crazy wood

We are so thrilled anytime anyone donates wood to our shop. It means so much to us to have so many unique and beautiful types of wood. One of the many people who has given us scrap pieces of wood is the great artist, Norm Sartories! He creates, “non-functional wooden spoons” and instead of wasting the pieces he has left over, he like to send them to us and others like us.

spoon wood

spoon wood

Gustav met with Sartorius at the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Craft show a few years back and they hit it off. He sends us a few pieces every so often, and we are honored to use the pieces that Sartorius has provided us with. We hope that you see a few pieces you might like to use in your recycled Norm Sartorius wood ring. We are happy to share them with all of you out there!

spoon wood

If you want to read more about Sartorius, we would love for you to visit his website with the following link: http://www.normsartorius.com/index.html

spoon wood

spoon wood

spoon wood

spoon wood

spoon wood

spoon wood

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An Ocean of Love!

We heard that Method Soaps began an initiative to recycle discarded plastics. 

Cool!

But guess what? We’ve already done it!

an ocean of love new ring

This ring, fondly named “An Ocean of Love” was created for a Marine Biologist from San Diego. She was studying the effects of plastic on marine life.

She and her husband were so passionate about the research they were doing that she decided to incorporate plastic samples, collected from the Pacific Ocean, into her crushed inlay. The result was this beautiful ring that is a constant reminder of the passion that drives her. 

>Great minds think alike! If more companies collected plastic to house their products maybe we could reduce the giant Texas-sized Great Pacific Garbage Patch that consists of plastic caught in a convergence of currents. We have so much work to do for our planet! We’re doing our best! One ring at a time! 

We really love what Method is doing! Check out their website for more information! 

method

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Did someone say whiskey?

Because we like to use salvaged woods for our wood rings, we are always on the lookout for new and unique wood sources. When we stumbled upon wood from white oak barrels that aged Jack Daniel’s whiskey, our interest was piqued. Jack Daniel’s crafts their own wood barrels. They char and toast the inside of the barrel to carmelize the wood’s natural sugars. The whiskey draws its rich amber color and distinctive flavor from the toasted oak.  Simply Wood Rings appreciates good craftmanship. We also appreciate good flavor. That’s why we thought this would be an excellent salvaged wood choice to inlay into our stainless steel ring.

stainless jack

simplywoodrings.com

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Recycling wood from the Major Leagues

Recycling wood from the Major Leagues

We’ve been busy this summer creating rings that are unique to the people that wear them. People have sent us all sorts of materials – woods, sands, shells, and stones. We always encourage our customers to incorporate materials that are meaningful to them in their design. Well one customer sent us a broken major league baseball bat. The bat previously belonged to Michael Bourn of the Atlanta Braves. We were able to inlay the broken pieces of Pro Maple into a silver ring for our baseball-loving customer. Batters up!

Recycling wood from the Major Leagues

Recycling wood from the Major Leagues

Recycling wood from the Major Leagues

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Craft Fair Wedding Photos

Craft Fair Wedding Photos

This last weekend, Simply Wood Rings participated in a local Chicago craft fair called Ravenswood Remix. It featured artists that use recycled, re-purposed and found materials in their work. So we fit right in! We had  fun telling fair-goers about how we use materials salvaged from xylophone keys, broken baseball bats, pieces off the family barn, locally fallen trees… and also materials that the customers send in that are meaningful to them. Materials that have a real sense of time and place. People really connected with it.

They also really enjoyed our Pop-up Fauxtobooth, where they (very unofficially) were able to tie the knot! Couples, families, and friends got hitched in veils, mustaches, and top hats. It was a blast! Thanks to Oriana of Okrfoto for being our wedding photographer!

See all the photos on our facebook page.

Craft Fair Wedding Photo

Craft Fair Wedding Photo

Craft Fair Wedding Photo

Craft Fair Wedding Photo

Craft Fair Wedding Photo

Craft Fair Wedding Photo

Craft Fair Wedding Photo

Craft Fair Wedding Photo

Craft Fair Wedding Photo

Craft Fair Wedding Photo

Craft Fair Wedding Photo

Craft Fair Wedding Photo

Craft Fair Wedding Photo

simplywoodrings.com

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If we had a nickel…

love under the tree

If SWR had a nickel for every email we’ve sent… we’d be RICH!

We are in the process of re-vamping our website including migrating our email service and today we realized we’ve had 44,000 correspondences! Say ‘I’m awesome!’ if you’ve exchanged an email with SWR!

Keep them coming! We love our customers!

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Salvaged Rose Wood Ring

Salvaged Rose Wood Ring

The rosewood that we incorporate into our wood rings was salvaged from a local Chicago man who had barrels of it in his garage. He had worked for a company that made xylophones out of rosewood. The thing about making xylophones is that you have to cut the wood to the right dimensions, then test it to see if it will make the proper note it was intended to make. If it didn’t make the right note, the wood was scrapped. This particular gentleman couldn’t stand to see such a beautiful wood tossed into the trash. So he took it home, and it sat very well preserved in his garage until Gustav bought it from him. Rosewood is now an endangered species. Other folks can’t buy this rosewood anywhere. This rarity is what makes people want it even more, let alone the fact that it is a gorgeous, rich-hued wood. We still have these materials that have already been harvested from the earth, and are now disregarded as scraps, ready to be tossed in landfills. Instead of looking for new shiny materials, or trees to cut down fresh, we want to face forward. We can draw out the beauty of this wood that was saved from the landfills. Rosewood has been harvested to near extinction. All we have is what we’ve salvaged from other people’s harvests, and we are able to take this unwanted material, and give it the status of precious, rare, sought after.

This rosewood will one day find its way back to the earth; we hope to give it a noble life until then.

Rose Wood Ring fretboard

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Simply Wood Rings in Garth Johnson new book

Simply Wood Rings is in Garth Johnsons new book due out this November. If you are interested in having your very own copy you can reserve yours here. Garth also maintains a blog called Extreme Craft which is a must see. Oh wait this guy also does this amazing pottery check it out at wondabread.com. Where he gets the time I don’t know, but I would like to thank him for highlighting my work.

Garth Johnson

“Artists and crafters have always been recyclers, but for many, it has not only become a thrifty choice, it has become a moral imperative. 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse contains a cutting edge collection of the most inventive work being made with re-used, upcycled, and already existing materials. The work in this book ranges from clever and humble personal accessories to unique and important large-scale works of art, including paper art, fashion, jewelry, housewares, interiors, and installations.”