Posted on

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. 

gustav reyes of Simply Wood Rings

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!

Posted on

Wood Ring Tales- Sebastien and Val

We love being able to share our customers stories!

We spend so much time talking with our customers to create their ideas, it’s wonderful to see the people behind the emails. We first started talking with our customer Seb in June 2017. He came to us with such a personal idea for a ring, we knew we had to get it right. We happy to share his story!

 

It begins...

 Seb and Val met 8 years ago at a party in New Zealand. Val caught his eye when she organized a running race in the street when the party started to slow down. Seb is from France and was a student in New Zealand and was working as an oceanographer (how cool!?). Val is from America and was on vacation volunteering at organic farms (again, how cool?!).  They dated for a few months before Val had to go back home to take care of her mom who was ill. Unfortunately, Val’s mother passed away. After, Val moved back to New Zealand to live with Seb and planted a rosebush in her mother’s memory. While together, they built a life surrounded by international friends, a surrogate family, of people who were environmentally conscious. After years of telling Val he didn’t want to get married and didn’t see the point in “boring superficial weddings” he attended a Wedding Festival, thrown by their close friends. Their friends all contributed to different parts of the wedding (i.e. food, music) and after he saw how amazing and stress-free the event was, he had changed his mind and started his search for an engagement ring. Fast forward several months- he found us! 

"I found Simply Wood Rings and they sustainability message resonated with me (we live under the permaculture principles, with no single-use plastics and Val is a sustainability educator). I collected some sand from our local beach, a branch of her mom's rosebush and some plastic nurdles (the elementary form of plastic before it gets molded, found extensively in the oceans and animals) that Val had collected on one of her numerous beach clean-ups."

One of the biggest problems when it comes to custom rings is getting sized. This was just the same issue Seb had, and to make it even worse, Val didn’t wear any rings so he couldn’t easily take one to a local jeweler to have it sized. He thought about using the string test- where you place a piece of string around the finger and later measure it (we don’t recommend this!)- he was too afraid of getting caught so he didn’t attempt the test. Instead, he’d place his hand over hers and would try to compare their finger size. Seb’s custom ring we created was made of Ancient Kauri wood that comes from the bogs of New Zealand and is approximately 50,000 years old. The inlays he sent were black magnetic sand, some of the rose bush Val planted in honor of her mother, and some recycled plastic nurdles.

Life is full of surprises...

After the ring was created, they had found out they were pregnant! A few months later they planned a “Baby Moon” to the Pacific Island of Rarotonga. Seb planned a photoshoot while they were there and was calling it a “Pregnancy Shoot”. However, he planned to propose while they were hanging out with all the palm trees.

Surprise number 2- There’s a tropical storm in the Cook Islands and Seb and Val are forced to stay indoors. Visiting all the museums they could possibly find over the next 4 days, they decide it’s time to head home. The photoshoot is canceled, Seb doesn’t have a plan B. He’s got to figure out a plan B!

Photo from http://www.teresatastes.com/rarotonga

(This is a gorgeous place and I had to find a photo to share with everyone!)

Back home after their babymoon, another stormy afternoon, Seb heads home from work after the power goes out in the whole town. “When I arrived home, Val had the same idea to go for a rainy walk with hot cocoa, our usual rainy day activity (I only go for walks if the weather is horrible and we have cocoa…).” They head over to a platform that overlooks their local beach, which is where they had their first date, many picnics, and their pregnancy celebration *IT’S PLAN B!!*

Seb has the ring in his pocket and tries to find the perfect moment. Val is sitting down (as she’s pregnant) and he waits for the perfect moment to propose. He sees a tropical bird in the distance, asks her “What kind of bird is that?” (he really doesn’t know). Val stands up to look and Seb scrambles to get the ring out of his pocket and gets down on one knee. 

Val didn't say YES at first, it was more " WHAAAAATTTTT???" (this was delivered with an interesting surprised face!) I guess she was surprised after years of agreeing on not getting married! Getting a clear positive answer took a couple of minutes...


The only problem is, the ring is wayyyyy too big (as you can see in this second photo).

So they sent it back to us and we crafted him a new one in the correct size. We got it back to Seb and Val as their due date was rapidly approaching!  On February 13th, 2018 the ring was in the mail on it’s way to New Zealand. On February 22nd, Val goes into labor. They took one last walk on the beach to clear their heads before heading to the birthing center. Seb stopped at his office quick to pick up a few things and sees the newly crafted, correct sized ring on his desk. While they’re on their way to the center, Val is laying on the back seat and Seb once again presents her with her wooden ring. Six hours after- they’re daughter Zoé was born.

We’re so happy we were able to be part of this wonderful story!
If you want to check out Val’s website you can head here: http://valeriebianchi.com/

Do you have a story you want to share about your rings?

We'd love to hear it!
Posted on

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?

Posted on

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

Posted on

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

Posted on

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!