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Chicago Father’s Day Part I : Local Gift Roundup

It's that time of year. Chicagoans crawl out of hibernation and fathers are celebrated, near and far. Here's our Chicago-centric gift guide (including a shameless plug of our insanely handsome Father's Ring). Shop local! 

Gifts​

+ For the Crafty Dad

Scrimshaw Set

This Mollyjogger scrimshaw knife kit has the potential to capitalize on any of dad's downtime--give him something to apply his long, contemplative silences to. 

Here's what Mollyjogger has to say about the art of scrimshaw: 

"Scrimshaw is an early American art form originating from the whaling industry in the late 1700’s. During the many idle hours at sea, a whaler etched drawings of nautical themes on items that were readily available to him such as sperm whale teeth and bones. His primary etching instrument was a sail needle, nail or pocket knife. After he scratched his art work into the surface of the bone, he would rub lamp black or tobacco juice into the scratch to reveal the drawing. As America traveled west, the frontiersmen carried the art form with them, applying it to their powderhorns, knives and other accoutrements."

+ For the Crafty Dad (with More Time on His Hands)

Woodworking Chisels
Fibonacci Curl

One of our employees gave her husband this set and he almost cried. For the aspiring heritage woodworker, these chisels are literally perfection. If you can't tell, we're a fan of using reclaimed materials. You could double the impact of this gift with some credit to the Rebuilding Exchange

The great benefit our employee got out of this gift is that her husband now builds unique, handmade shelves, tables, containers, and plant stands for their apartment at a fraction of the cost. 

<-- Watch this satisfying GIF of wood curling into perfect fibonacci spirals. 

+ For the Stylish, Nearsighted Papa 

Drift Eyewear Chicago

Atticus / Tortoise Matte / Wenge on Walnut

We've got a theme rolling here, so let's keep on with it for a second. What's cooler than reclaimed/sustainable wooden eyewear? Not much. The dad in your life deserves these Chicago-made eyeglasses. Check out Drift Eyewear for some seriously handsome spectacles. 

+ For the Eco-Friendly Papi

Fathers Ring on Cholla

Father's Ring : Rosewood | Pine | Cedar

This design is one of our favorites yet. It's so simple and warm. The Father's Ring represents rustic, nature-lovers well; and, each ring is personalized and custom-made by hand, here in our Chicago studio. For a complete list of birthwoods and their meaning/mythology check out the main Birthwood page.

N. B. Our workload is heavy, especially around this year so, if you'd like your ring in time for Father's Day (June 18th) you'll need to order your ring today! Also, be sure to check "Expedite" so that your order gets created and shipped out in three weeks. 



+ For the Bearded Baba

Damascus Steel Comb by Chicago Comb


C
onsider this glorious Damascus Steel comb available on the Horween Leather Company's web-store. It's a pricey item at $350.00 but the combs are made in Chicago and come with a high quality non-toxic Horween leather sheath. So, yeah. 

+ For the Distinguished Pater

Few Spirits Gin

Last, but not least, help him unwind with a glass of distinguished whiskey and spirits made here in Chicago. Here's some copy from Few's "Genesis" section on their website: 

Founded as a dry community, Evanston was home to many influential advocates for Prohibition who effectively kept the city free of alcohol for more than one hundred years.

Though the city legalized drinking in the late Nineties, it took the perseverance of our Master Distiller, Paul Hletko, to reverse the antiquated liquor laws. With roots going back to some of Europe's fabled brewing families, Paul and FEW Spirits have marked the end of Evanston's Prohibition and given the city its very own craft distillery.


Or, if single barrel whiskey is more his thing Koval is the best we know, in town. Plus we're teaming up with them for something special later in the year. So, stay tuned! 

Koval Whiskey


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What’s Your Birth Flower? Our Newest Mother’s Ring is Here

Birth Flower Ring

Our newest Mother's Ring with birth flower inlay. You can order a birth flower ring using this form. Note that all of our custom ring orders take approximately 5-6 weeks to handcraft. The last day to order this ring in time for Mother's Day is April 4th. With expediting, you can order by April 25th.

Even though it just snowed here in Chicago (insert ugly-cry here), we've got all the spring feels because the studio is blanketed with drying flowers. We just designed a new Mother's Ring, in time for Mother's Day, that incorporates birth flowers as inlays. What's a birth flower, you ask? Well, we've compiled a list of flowers from the Old Farmer's Almanac and provided you with some insight into flower meanings and the history of birth flower attributes. 

A Short History of Flower Meanings

According to Gertrude Jones, who wrote a book entitled Dictionary of Mythology, Folklore, and Symbols in 1962, the ancient Romans were one of the first to celebrate birthdays and they did so by gifting dedicated flowers.

In the 18th century, Lady Mary Wortely Montagu (pictured below), introduced the "language of flowers" to British high-society and, thus, flower meanings took on permanent significance in the west (Loy, 2015).

Lady Wortley Montagu

Birthflowers

Carnation


Carnations symbolize women and love. Different colored carnations indicate different feelings. For example: red means "My heart aches" or intense admiration; white references innocence, pure love, and good luck; pink means "I'll never forget you"; yellow apparently indicates rejection or disappointment.

In Victorian times, carnations were used to send secret messages. A solid color carnation meant "Yes," a striped carnation means "I'm sorry but I can't be with you", and yellow means "No".

The ancient Aztec Indians used carnations in a tea as a diuretic and to treat chest congestion. 

Carnation : January's Birthflower

Violet : February Birthflower

Violet


It's no surprise that violets are a symbol of delicate love. These velvety flowers are whisper-thin and very fragile. Violets also indicate affection, modesty, faithfulness, dignity, and nobility (purple is a color often associated with royalty). 

Violets, in the Christian tradition, represent the Virgin Mary. They are also indicative of symbolic death and resurrection because these flowers were used by the Romans in funeral rites

Daffodil ~ Narcissus


The etymology of the taxonomic name, narcissus, derives from the greek mythological character who was so in love with his own reflection he drowned in it. It is believed that these beautiful flowers were given this name because they grow naturally on river and stream banks, with their heads bowing to their own reflection. However, in modern times, daffodils are commonly associated with spring and renewal.

The cheery daffodil appears when spring is fast approaching. Daffodils brighten everything around them with their golden, yellow hue. These flowers represent prosperity, bounty, rebirth, renewal, good luck, happiness, clarity, and inspiration.

March Birthflower : Daffodil

April Birthflower : Daisy

Daisy


Following soon after the daffodil, daisies flower when spring has fully arrived. Daisies symbolize innocence and hope, but it is also a flower that indicates discretion between lovers--as in "Can you keep a secret?" In the Victorian era, daisies represented loyalty. 

Daisies appear like miniature suns in the grass and, in the evening, tiny stars. These flowers grow all year round and are naturally resistant to pests. The name daisy comes from an Old English word meaning "day's eye" because the flowers open in the day after closing at night. Daisies are apparently around 4,000 years old! These flowers have been painted and used as decoration in Medieval paintings, Egyptian vessels, and Minoan hair accessories. 

Lily of the Valley


​This fragrant flower symbolizes sweetness, humility, and a return to happiness. It is also said to bring luck in love. Part of the taxonomic name of this flower, majalis, means "of or belonging to mary." In the Christian tradition, this flower is said to have originated from the Virgin Mary's tears. Also, according to old astrological records, this plant has been placed under the ascendancy of Mercury--which passes across the sun in either May or November. 

May Birthflower : Lily of the Valley
June Birthflower : Rose

Rose


Roses have perhaps the most infamous cultural significance. Like carnations, different colored roses have a different meaning: pink means love, gratitude, appreciation, grace, gentleness, and sympathy; yellow indicates "Get Well", friendship, and joy; lavender symbolizes enchantment, mystery, and love at first sight; white means purity and spirituality--interestingly white roses used to be an indication of true love which is now symbolized by the color red, which has been used throughout history to indicate passion (in politics and religion). 

This sweet, edible flower has been used in folk medicine for centuries. Rosehips are often crushed with sugar to create a preserve, rich in vitamin C. The fragrance of this flower is justifiably popular and the flower has a long history of cultivation in gardens. 

Larkspur


Larkspur is associated with openheartedness and romance. Like carnations and roses, the colors of larkspur flowers hold different meanings: pink represents fickleness, white signifies a happy-go-lucky nature, and purple represents a sweet disposition.

According to Native American lore, larkspur got its name from a celestial being who sent down a spike of the sky with which to climb down to the earth. The rays of the sun dried the spike and scattered it in the wind--wherever these pieces touched the ground the larkspur flower grows. 

The poisonous larkspur flower is used in botanical applications for fragrance in candles and aromatherapy. It is also used by some to dispel ghosts and spirits. 

July Birthflower : Larkspur
August Birthflower : Gladiolus

Gladiolus


Gladiolus flowers indicate strength of character, infatuation, and "never give up." These flowers are sometimes referred to as sword flowers because of their impressive height and shape. Gladioli, in Roman times, were commonly associated with gladiators. In this way, gladioli signify moral integrity. These flowers can grow up to six feet tall in optimal conditions. 

Aster


According to FTD.com, it’s said that the aster was created by the tears of the Greek goddess, Astraea. One day, she was so upset by how few stars there were in the dark sky, that she began to cry. As she wept, her tears fell to the ground and turned into star-shaped aster flowers. Thus, the flower was named after her, with aster meaning star. 

Another interpretation is that asters were created when Virgo scattered stardust over the Earth. Where the stardust settled, aster flowers bloomed. The aster is also an emblem of Venus, the goddess of love.

Aster flowers are known to be drought resistant, so they are excellent for desert landscaping. The aster is actually made up of many smaller flowers surrounded by another set of larger petals. 

In Chinese culture, asters are thought to cure many different ailments and can aid respiratory diseases and problems with circulation. 

Column 1

September Birthflower : Aster
October Birthflower : Marigold

Marigold


Again, FTD.com states that the first recorded cultivation of marigolds began with the Aztecs, who believed that the sunny flower possessed magical properties. Spanish conquistadors took these marigolds back with them to Spain where they were grown in monasteries.

From here, marigolds spread throughout Europe, and ultimately the rest of the world. Throughout history, marigolds have been used as dyes and as culinary ingredients, as well as a cure for many health ailments. In Mexico and Latin America, marigolds are used as a primary decoration for All Saints Day, where altars are embellished with these bright orange flowers. Today, the marigold is one of the most popular flowers in the United States.

With a bloom time that spans nearly the entire year, this October flower blooms from spring to fall and are one of the hardiest fall flowers. Avid gardeners plant marigolds due to their ability to repel insects and pests. Additionally, their odor can repel bacterial growth within the soil, keeping it healthy and nutritious for other plants.

Marigolds, or gendu, are widely used in Indian wedding celebrations. Lord Vishnu and his wife Goddess Lakshmi, the ideal couple, are worshipped with marigolds. Hence, using the same at weddings is symbolic of the divine blessings to the newlywed couple for a prosperous life ahead. Marigolds are also considered to be representative of the sun. Thus, they symbolize brightness and positive energy to be bestowed on the couple.

Chrysanthemum


​According to Teleflora, chysanthemums are symbol of the sun. The Japanese consider the orderly unfolding of the chrysanthemum's petals to represent perfection, and Confucius once suggested they be used as an object of meditation. It's said that a single petal of this celebrated flower placed at the bottom of a wine glass will encourage a long and healthy life. 

Flowermeaning.com suggests that the Chrysanthemum is far more versatile than many other decorative flowers. While they don’t provide a very strong smell when growing, there’s a delicate and sweet aroma released when certain types are used for food. Chinese cooks add the blooms to soups and stir fries that need a hint of floral to balance out more strongly flavored or musky ingredients. The greens are also used for brightening up salads and fried dishes. You can try your hand at making your own sweetly scented Chrysanthemum tea if you have access to flowers that were never treated with pesticides. Speaking of pesticides, organic pyrethins are extracted from this plant to keep bugs away from people, pets, and plants. NASA studies even found potted Chrysanthemums improve air quality. 

The Old Farmer's Almanac associates this flower with abundance, cheerfulness, and friendship. 

November Birthflower : Chrysanthemum
Paperwhite : December Birthflower

Paperwhites ~ Narcissus


December's birth flower is a variation of March's daffodil. Paperwhites are part of the family of narcissus flowers and thus have the same etymology as daffodils. However, given that paperwhites are often grown indoors from bulbs, these flowers represent resilience, confidence, and sweetness in the darkest points of the year. Paperwhites grow and bloom easily in nothing more than water and proper drainage. White Flower Farm offers tips on how to grow these flowers indoors: place a layer of stones or beach glass at the bottom of a vase, next arrange the paperwhite bulbs in a layer with their roots facing down, leave the tops of the bulbs exposed and fill the vessel with water right up to the base of the bulb (be sure not to let the actual bulb sit in water or they will rot). 

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October Birthwood Story

Marigold Flower


     Hello! Since my Birthday was Monday and my birthwood ring is the October ring, I wanted to share my personal birthwood story with all of you! Also check out our new October Birthwood Video at the end! 

For the first 19 years of my life, I celebrated my birthday with my grandmother. This is because we happened to have the same birthday. October 17th was always the one day out of the year that I looked forward to the most. My grandma and I would hang out together and she would usually make us a birthday dinner of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and cherry pie. I hung out with my grandmother most days because she was my primary caretaker as a child, so our birthday really wasn't that much different than any other day, but it always felt different to me. I never had a birthday that was my "own", but in all honesty the thought always scared me. I knew that when I lost my grandmother and my best friend, I would have my first birthday that was my "own".

My grandmother passed a few days before our shared birthday six years ago. I was turning 20 and she would have been 84.

My birthday is now bittersweet most years because it is a time of remembrance as well as celebration. I try to think of it as a celebration of her life and how it affected mine and celebrate how she still lives through me. Dates and months can hold a lot of memories for people throughout time, and October will always be a special month for me. This is why the October birthwood ring is so important to me. The wood for the October birthwood ring is maple, which stands for offering, generosity, balance, promise and practicality. The marigold inlay symbolizes grace, protection, comfort, and healing.

If my grandmother was anything in life, she was generous. She babysat me for my entire childhood while expecting nothing in return. She would bake breads, muffins, brownies, and any other baked good you could think of and then give it all to her neighbors. She also offered me much protection and comfort while helping me through all troubling situations that life threw at me as a child and teenager. The marigold in this ring also offers me a sort of comfort when I look at it and remember my grandmother through the ring. I will always hold her close to my heart in everything I do, which is why having a ring that symbolizes our life together is so important to me.

Written by Christina D.

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What is a Moissanite?

While browsing our site, you may have noticed that we use what is called a moissanite in almost all of our rings with stones in them. I have realized that most people don't know what exactly a moissanite is, and have never even heard of it before viewing our rings! Well, I am here to let you know just exactly what a moissanite is!

Moissanites are stones that are an eco-friendly alternative to diamonds. Most people want diamonds in their rings because of the sparkle and hardness of them, which is totally understandable! The only thing is that diamonds are not always eco-friendly and most of the time their origins are unknown. This is why a scientist named Henri Moissan created an alternative to diamonds. He discovered moissanite crystals in a crater that was created by a meteorite in 1893. He realized these crystals had more brilliance than a diamond and he found out they were composed of silicon carbonate.  Since the crystals are extremely hard to find in nature being that they come from a meteorite, he decided to start growing them in science labs. Henri Moissan later won the nobel prize for his discoveries. 

The moissanites that we get to use in our wooden rings come from a company called Charles and Colvard. They are one of the top leading moissanite distributors in the world. Moissanites have been proven to have a hardness of 9.25 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which makes it one of the hardest substances on earth!  This means that it can resist all surface scratching as well as having an incredible brilliance to it. 

Since we are an eco-friendly business and are incredibly conscious of where all our materials come from, we really couldn't find anything better than moissanites to use in our rings. We hope you love them just as much as we do!! 

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Birthwood Give Back to the Community Part 2!

In part one of this blog post, we told you about a program at Dorset Collegiate High School in Canada. The program promotes safe fun for graduate students by providing a space to celebrate and party all night while agreeing to not partake in consuming drugs or alcohol. We were contacted by the a parent whose daughter is graduated from the school this year. She asked if we would donate a gift certificate for the raffle they have as a way to entice kids to come and participate. We were more than happy to help, and we are happy to see that Brandon was the proud winner of a Birthwood Gift Certificate! He decided upon the November Birthwood ring, and we can't wait to make it for him. Thank you again to Loriann and Dorset Collegiate!!

If you are interested in our Birthwood line, check it out here! 

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Birthwood Gives Back To The Community

Here at the studio, we recently received an email from a woman in Canada that we couldn't keep from sharing. She reached out to us because of an event at the high school her daughter goes to, and here is part of the email she sent us: 

"Well where do I start. Dorset Collegiate is located just outside of a little community in Pilleys Island, Newfoundland, Canada. There is approximately 160 students in total            ( grade 7-12). 6 different community kids goes to this school. So everyone knows everyone.

Our safe grad program started up a few years ago with just a handful of teachers/parents and minimal decorations and prizes. Now it's grown into something a bit bigger and better thanks to generous donations/prizes from some amazing companies. We separate into groups,,decide on themed rooms. For example this year we have a camo room, Hawaiian room, wildly winks and the chocolate factory room and cafe room. Not to mention the gym has a bouncy pirate ship for the graduates to play. There's a dance and also a breakfast at daylight. All during the night kids go from room to room, have snacks, play games, win prizes. They LOVE this. We do this for them to keep them safe. A few years back a local graduated died because of a graduation party that wasn't sponsored by the school. She drowned, in a car accident on graduation night.

So now we do this to keep our kids safe. It is a drug and alcohol FREE night. They sign "contracts" pledging to stay FREE from its and it works. As parents we worry because grad night is huge scary night and now because of the safe grad we know our kids are INSIDE and SAFE. The kids also receive goodie bags when the come and sign in to the party. Once inside there is no going outside till its time to go home the next day."

She told us all of that information and asked if we would be interested in donating to the event so that the kids would have something special in their raffle as one of the prizes. We decided to give them a gift card that is good for one Birthwood ring from our Birthwood line.  We love to be a part of the community, whether it is the Chicago community or a bigger one. Part of why we do what we do at Simply Wood Rings is to give back to the Earth and the community, so we are extremely excited by this opportunity. We are very honored to be asked to do such a thing, and we hope that the winner loves the ring!