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.
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!
A short time before I gave birth to our first daughter, I found out my Mother had cancer. In June of 2014 I learned that she had been diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cancer. She spent the next eight months going through intense radiation and chemotherapy treatments, while taking a slew of medications. Of course that means she wasn’t able to travel to actually be there for the birth of her first granddaughter, but we took a trip out to Florida as soon as the baby was able to travel.
My Mom fought her cancer with every ounce of strength she had, and while she went into remission from the cancer a multitude of other health problems took over. She developed lymphedema, along with kidney failure. My mom was in constant pain but through it all she always smiled when we were around. She never let anyone see how bad she truly felt and was still trying to take care of everyone around her.
In the middle of her battle with these illnesses and her remission she got to see me walk down the aisle, and she was able to meet and spend some time with her two granddaughters.
Ever since that first time I was told she had cancer it was like a stopwatch had started in the back of all of our minds. How much time did we actually have left with her? The doctors first told us she wouldn’t make it past six months. My mom was the strongest woman I’ve ever known and she beat the all the odds and lived almost a full two years after her diagnosis. She passed away in August of 2016 with friends and family by her side.
A moms love
My mom wasn’t just strong in her fight with cancer. My whole life she showed me how a person can be strong in so many different ways. She showed me how fierce and bright and wonderful a mother’s love truly is, no matter how far apart you are. She drilled in me that girls can whatever we put our mind too and we could be just as tough, if not tougher, than the boys.
My mom was my biggest fan, my shoulder to cry on, and a swift kick in the rear when I needed it. I’m so thankful for the relationship I had and how it’s help mold the one I’m building with my daughters now. I’m thankful for the time she got to spend with them and the incredible amount of love she had/showed them in that short period. A part of me hopes that their coming into this world is what helped her hold on a little bit longer, and its something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Sitting in a tree ring holds meaning
One more thing I can now cherish and have to remind me of that is my own beautiful, one-of-a-kind Simply Wood Rings ring. Thanks to my wonderful best friend, Shelby and the rest of the amazing Simply Wood Rings team for helping commemorate it for me.
The ring that Shelby chose to use as the inspiration for my ring is the ‘Sitting in a Tree’ ring. The Simply Wood Rings ‘Sitting in a Tree’ ring brings the whole family together by using a base wood of an anniversary month and inlays of birth-woods or birth-stones to represent those closest to you.
My own ‘Sitting in a Tree’ ring features a beautiful base wood of Elm. Elm is the anniversary wood for the month of May. Our wedding date was 5-10-15 🙂 It was actually the first time I met most of Korey’s family and it was right before then my mom announced her remission for a brief period of time. That day was the best day ever. Elm has a light to medium reddish brown color and a somewhat coarse, uneven texture. The wood sands easily though for a gorgeous, natural low luster.
For the birthstone inlays, the outer two rings represent my two daughters, so Ruby and Turquoise were used. The middle inlay, representing my mother, is made from Amethyst. I never even thought about it until I put the ring on, but my girls’ birthstone colors mixed together make my Mom’s birthstone color. And purple just happens to by my favorite color too, ha-ha! It’s also kind of like my girls are hugging my mom and that is something really special to me. Not only do the colors of the birthstones mean something to me, but what they each symbolize add another layer for me to cherish in this already incredible memento.
Ruby is the gemstone used for the birth month of July – when my oldest was born. It is said to represent nobility and beauty, and is considered one of the four most precious gems. Turquoise, the gemstone picked for the birth month of December – my youngest was born on New Year’s Eve. It is one of the oldest stones, used in many ancient cultures. It is believed to bring good fortune and symbolizes friendship and prosperity.
For those born in February, like my mom was, they are said to be blessed with Amethyst as their birthstone. This popular gemstone is prized for symbolizing peace, courage, and love. And I don’t think there’s anything more befitting for my mom. She was the definition of courage. She spent nearly three years fighting a despicable disease and other illnesses. In that time she found peace within herself, she loved and lived as hard as she could. The love between her and my daughters fills my heart. Every time I look at this beautiful piece of jewelry that was made with so much thought and care, my heart overflows with all the emotions I feel.
Simply Wood Rings took these wonderfully simple materials and created something so precious to me that I will cherish for the rest of my life. They will do that for you, too. Every ring made by Simply Wood Rings is handled with the same care and attention that my ring received. You can trust them to make something that will have you and your loved one’s heart skip a beat every time they put it on.
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!
+ For the Crafty Dad
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)
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
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
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
Consider 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
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!
Mother’s Day 2017 (in the United States) is May 14th, which might seem far away but if you’re looking to gift something truly special, now is the perfect time to do some planning. As you might know already, our standard order turnaround time for rings is around 4-6 weeks. That makes today the last day you can order rings without expediting! We’ve put together a mini gift-guide to help you honor the mother you love.
These rings are perfect gifts because each element represents a special month and the unique symbology associated with those components. Also, we’ve designed rings within the Birthwood line specifically with moms in mind. Pictured above is the simplest version we have to offer. A minimal band of birthstone encircles a base birthwood. You can customize the birthstone or birthwood to represent special dates or people.
For example, the Sitting in a Tree ring combines the whole family in a delicate, wearable package. The base wood of these rings is typically that of an anniversary month, two bands of birthwood inlays indicate the parents’ birth months, and finally birthstone lines are inlaid to represent the children.
A simpler version of this ring is the Mother’s Wood Ring: with a base wood representing the mother’s birth month and birthstones representing her children.
Also, we’ve recently released the option of adding birth-flowers in addition to birthstones. Each birth-flower meaning is sourced from the farmer’s almanac. You can read about each one in an earlier blog post, here.
In a similar vein, Birthwood pendants are a comparable alternative to rings. The pendants come with a quality leather necklace in either a dark chocolatey brown or a lighter sable color. Birthwood pendants, like our rings, are crafted by us here in our Chicago studio. The two abstract and customizable components, cut into mahogany, work together to create layers of meaning. You could design the pendant with a birthstone representing her and a birthwood representing her child or the reverse. Or, for a simpler approach simply gift her the pendant with her own birthwood and birthstone inlaid.
Simply Wood Rings Gift Certificates and In-Stock Rings
If time does start slipping away from you or the mama in your life is really particular, we do have gift certificates available that are valid online or in our shop.
Or, if you know your mom’s ring size (can be tricky to get a hold of!), you could check out our selection of in-stock rings that are ready to ship out upon purchase.
We ship worldwide and are always happy to answer questions or concerns. Call, email, or message us on Facebook.
As you can see, there are more people that thought money was no object or spending less than $1000 was appropriate. It seems that the classic advice of two months’ salary is out the door.
What does that mean for you? It means looking for an engagement ring your significant other will love!
Know their style. Are they super simple? Do they love the outdoors or would they rather shop till they drop?
Know your budget. There’s no need to get into debt before you’re married, this is a new step in your relationship and it should be enjoyed. Meaning isn’t determined by price.
Vintage provided ring capped with walnut and turquoise
Birdseye maple with silver and sapphire inlay
Rosewood with turquoise inlay and bezel set topaz
“Breaking Traditions” Mahogany, birch with inlayed crushed stones
As for us, we love using materials that have meaning for our customers. Creating rings with materials that are provided give an extra feature for them. Hearing the stories behind why they’re important is what gives their ring value to them as well as to us. While you’re out shopping for a ring whether it be together or purchasing a ring for a surprise proposal, think about what makes you happy and what gives value to you and your significant other.
If you’re loving our rings we’ll always be here to create something special for you!
When I graduated college in 2012, I started looking for a job in the jewelry industry since I was doing my own metal-smithing on the side. I saw a post on Craigslist for a bench jeweler position with Gustav Reyes with his company Simply Wood Rings, and I knew I wanted it more than anyone else. I ended up getting that job and then over the years moving onto other jobs and things, but ultimately staying in touch with Gus for the past five years. I ended up ordering rings from Gus when I was looking for a ring set and I inquired about working with him again, but this time in an administrative position. I lucked out and got to spend the past year working as an Administrative Assistant for Simply Wood Rings. I have learned a ton during this past year, and also have made some great friendships while here. I cant explain how thankful I am for everything I have learned and all the appreciation I have been shown. Gus has helped me with my own jewelry business in any way possible and I have been given numerous opportunities while here. It is also so great to be part of a community of artists and eco-conscious people. It is bittersweet to have to move onto another position next week, but I can’t explain enough how great my time with Simply Wood Rings has been and I know I will always have my Simply Wood Rings family!
Our newest edition to the Birthwood family is here: Birthwood Pendants! These necklaces represent each month of the year with their specific birthwood and birthstone inlay.
December Birthwood Pendant
Each pendant has a base of Mahogany wood with an inlay of each month’s Birthwood and Birthstone. We chose mahogany because it of it’s strength & beauty. Our Mahogany is salvaged from local artisans & craftsman who no longer can use the small pieces. We wanted to continue to honor the material instead of it going to waste.
The image above is the December Birthwood Pendant which is made of Pine and Turquoise.
Pine wood is widely used in high-value carpentry items such as furniture, window frames, panelling, floors and roofing. The world’s oldest known living organism is a 16-foot spruce in Sweden sprouted roughly 9,550 years ago. Seems short for the oldest tree right? Well this little guy’s root system got started back when the British Isles were still connected to Europe by an ice bridge. The pine tree symbolizes creativity, peace and harmony.
We’ve paired our ring with crushed turquoise which is December’s birthstone.
All Birthwood pendants take 2 weeks to create. Please contact us if you need earlier and we will try and accommodate your needs. Order yours now and get it in time for the holidays! These pendants are the perfect gift for someone special in your life. Click on the link below to see all twelve Birthwood Pendants!
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and we know that it can be hard to try to stay eco friendly during the holidays when so much is happening at once! We have researched some tips for how to try to stay eco-friendly during Thanksgiving to help you in your efforts!
One way is to get food from a farmers market and support local farmers.
Commercial canning of vegetables uses 3 billion kWh of energy per annum. That’s enough to run more than 8.5 million refrigerators for an entire year! Also the transportation of food across the world uses so much gas that buying local makes a huge difference.
By avoiding canned goods, you’ll also be cutting down on your exposure to BPA – a hormone disrupting chemical that lines tin cans…which even the FDA has ‘some concerns’ about.
When celebrating with family, try to go with some cloth napkins instead of paper ones. Again, while the paper ones are convenient, they’re incredibly wasteful and most definitely not eco-friendly. Did you know that the average American uses 2,200 two-ply paper napkins per year? That’s 662 billion napkins ending up in American trash cans every twelve months!
Another way to try to be conscious of your eco-footprint this year is to make sure to avoid wasting food. Try to only make enough for everyone and don’t have leftovers that you will just end up throwing away.
Also why not try a candle-lit dinner this year? Using candles instead of electricity the whole night will create ambiance and be romantic while saving the environment.
Your green efforts don’t have to end just because the meal has! When it’s time for the clean-up, you can make further green choices.
Conventional cleaners are chock-full of chemicals which are hazardous to both the environment and our health. Overhaul your arsenal of cleaning products with some homemade versions – most of which can be made from items you already have in your kitchen.
We hope this helped you think of some ways to be as eco-friendly as possible this holiday season and that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families!
Are you in a crisis because you want to give awesome gifts this holiday season but don’t want to contribute to the mass production and consumption that comes along with it? Want to try to stay eco-conscious this season? We have some ideas for how you can give without feeling guilty!
1) Donate to an Animal Sanctuary or Environmental Charity
Animal sanctuaries are amazing places and exist all across the world and giving a donation to an animal sanctuary is a way to avoid contributing to the big companies selling presents this holiday season. If you know your bestie’s favorite animal, you could make a donation in their name and even get them a little photograph or plush toy of the animal. Some sanctuaries that are great are Farm Sanctuary and Bat World. Farm Sanctuary gives a photo and birth certificate with your “adoption” of an animal and Bat World provides a picture, birth certificate, and some other cool perks as well.
Consider donating in your friend’s name to the Environmental Defense Fund, National Resources Defense Council, The Sierra Club, or any other foundation they are a fan of.
2) Gift an Experience
Giving an experience as a present, like a class or a trip to a winery is a great gift idea. It gets people out of their comfort zone to do things they have never done before and could even spawn a new hobby. You may even get asked to join!
Gift a class at Penguin Foot pottery in Chicago
3) Make a gift from scratch
Giving a gift that you took time out of your life to make is a really great thing to give! It shows how much you care about someone and makes them feel extremely cared for. It is also a great way to cut down on excessive production this holiday season. You could try your hand at candle making or even knitting. It may even spawn a new hobby….
The best resource for DIY crafts is of course Pinterest. I’ve been obsessing over polymer clay recently and Pinterest has some really beautiful instructables and inspiration.
4) Growable Gifts
Giving someone a little life to grow is an amazing present. Having plants around increases positivity and growing one can make you feel accomplished as well.
Making a little seed starter kit or a terrarium is a great way to create something small and growable for a loved one. Also, how many other gifts can release oxygen into the atmosphere?
If you’re in Chicago, check out the local business Alapash in Ravenswood that offers ready-made terrariums and kits.
Don’t forget to look through our ring selection for some eco-conscious gifts as well!
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.
We are pleased to introduce a new set of rings to all of you: our Strength of Souls set! This ring set pairs oak bands with an inlay of malachite and turquoise to create a very significant ring for the wearer. We really love making these rings, and I will explain why below!!
The Strength of Souls set represents strength.. For a couple it shows how two people who support and love one another can weather any storm, and these rings represent that journey. If you only wear one for yourself, it shows that you are a strong grounded person who knows what they stand for. The Oak tree has a long history of representing strength, as well as malachite and turquoise.
Oak is a wood native to the northern hemisphere and it represents strength and a noble spirit. The Ancient Celts observed the oak tree’s massive growth and impressive expanse and they realized that this tree can endure most things. They also observed that oak trees attract lightening and they thought this made them even more powerful. Oak trees are known to live for over 200 years which shows how strong and stable they are during all the things they endure. Ancient people also made doors from oak because of the tree’s strength. They believed these doors would keep out evil spirits. This tree is known to represent truth and knowledge.
Turquoise was found in many burial sites of warriors throughout both north and south america because of the strength of the stone. in the Orient, rings and amulets were used to protect against evil spirits. Turkish soldiers would wear turquoise to prevent falls while riding their horses in battle. The apaches believed there would be turquoise at the end of a rainbow for good luck.
Inherent in Malachite is lighter green eye-shaped forms or bands on its surface. These “eye stones,” believed to enhance great visionary powers, were used to ward off negative happenings. They were stones of security and protection for children, and their most remarkable association today is the ability to warn of impending danger by breaking into pieces. It is a Stone of Transformation, assisting one in changing situations and providing for spiritual growth. Malachite is a protection stone, absorbing negative energies and pollutants from the atmosphere and from the body. As a stone of transformation, Malachite encourages change and emotional risk-taking.
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!!
We haven’t posted a Wood Ring Tales in a while for you, so here is our newest story! Adam and Vicki are two of our customers who made some very personalized rings for themselves. We are always happy to create custom orders, especially creating rings that can be paired with engagement rings like Vicki’s. Here is an excerpt from the ceremony that the couple shared with us:
The ring is a symbol of the unbroken circle of love, of family and commitment. These rings are made of Black Walnut, taken from a tree planted by Vicki’s grandparents, Tom and Ann Niblock. Black Walnut has also played a significant role in Adams life; it was our grandfather’s favorite nut, and several black walnut trees dotted the family homestead. Inlaid in Vicki’s ring are stones that they collected from the beach in Delaware, where they first pledged their commitment to each other through engagement.
Adam and Vicki, your choice of this wood for your rings is fitting. Your marriage, like a tree, is a living, breathing thing. It must be carefully nurtured, to allow its roots to spread and deepen. Over time, it will change, never the same from year to year, but ever growing and increasing in strength. It will witnesses the passing of the seasons, and through every winter, it will keep faith in the hope of spring. It will weather storms and rejoice in the warmth of the sun. May these rings always remind you of the vows you have taken.
We love their story and we are so happy that we were able to create something so special for them! Congrats Adam and Vicki! Below are some pictures from the ceremony.
Earth day is this Friday, and we are so excited! Did you know Earth Day has only been around since 1970? Now there are more than 193 countries who observe Earth day around the world. We are an eco-conscious business, and we try to do our part to make sure to conserve the Earth’s natural resources. All of the wood we use for our rings is salvaged and reused, we never cut down any trees for our rings! Are you wondering how you can take part in Earth Day in a few simple ways? We have made a list for you! Incorporate these things into your everyday life as well to be extra eco-conscious!
Join a community garden
Photo Courtesy of www.communitygardens.com
Chicago has a ton of community gardens around the city. You can join and start growing your own vegetables and herbs today! Another idea is to start a window sill garden if you only want to plant small things. Locally sourced food cuts down on gas costs from airplanes shipping food and pesticides that get put into the soil from farming.
2. Unplug all electronics when they aren’t in use or when you leave the house
Leaving electronics plugged in uses energy even when those appliances may not be in use. Unplugging them is easy and only takes a few seconds and could prevent a potential fire in your house as well!
3. Buy green cleaning products
Organic cleaning products clean without the use of chlorine or petroleum, both of which end up in the eco-system when you use them!
4. Use a bike or walk when going on short errands
Photo Courtesy of www.lifehacker.com
5. Change lightbulbs in your house to CFL bulbs
CFL bulbs last ten times longer than regular bulbs and use only 1/4 of the energy and produce 90% less heat.
6. Donate old clothes from your closet
Photo Courtesy of www.realsimple.com
7. Avoid exfoliating scrubs with microbeads in them
Exfoliating micro beads are plastic pellets that end up in the water in our ecosystem and can harm animals
Those are just some of the many things you can do this Friday April 22 for Earth Day! Happy Conserving!
Did you know that you can visit our shop at any time and see all our rings in person? You can! We love to have visitors see where all the magic happens. There are so many things to do in our neighborhood that we made a list of all of them. We have a brand new page that shows all of our favorite places in the Pilsen neighborhood that you can check out while you are here. We have a comprehensive list of places to shop, drink, eat, hang out, or see art.
The thought of buying a wooden ring or a custom wood ring for that matter can be overwhelming to some. The buying process of any ring can be overwhelming if you don’t know the specifics or your size or what you are looking for. We want your buying experience with Simply Wood Rings to be super easy! We try to make it as easy as possible no matter what type of ring you want. but if you are hesitant at all to order because you don’t know where to begin, we can help! Here are the steps and information you would need to order a ring from us!
The first step when buying a ring is to figure out your size. Most people don’t know how to figure out their ring size, and that’s totally fine! We have another blog post that can help you figure out your size, which you can read here or you can order a plastic ring sizer from us by clicking here!
The next step would be to think about what you want your ring to look like. If you look on our site you can see all the options that we have In-Stock and those are good to order if you need a ring ASAP. Click here to view all our In-Stock rings! It’s also a good way to gain some inspiration for a custom order if you decide to go that route. If you do decide on a custom ring order, the next step would be to either use our Custom Ring Builder tool on the site or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Custom Ring Builder tool can be found here, and it is a fast and easy tool to plan and design your ring. Some people have more complicated custom orders or provide materials for us to use, and in that case you would email us and our master order-taker Sara would help you. She would put together a list of the materials you want to use and the pricing for them and then all you have to do is pay online!
If you do go the route of sending in materials for us to work with, the next step in the buying process would be to send us those materials! Once we get them, we can start your ring. Otherwise, once you place your order online, the turnaround time for us to ship out your ring is 5-6 weeks. You do have the option to expedite your order for $65 and that would get it to you in 2-3 weeks time. Also if you spend over $125 on an order you receive free shipping!
One of the best ways to get an idea of what you want and what types of wood we work with etc is by coming in to visit us in the shop. When you schedule a visit, we will size you, show you around the shop, show you all the different inlays and types of wood we have, and can make a custom order in person with us. Our shop is at 1500 S. Western Ave in Chicago. We love meeting people in person and showing them the process of how we make our rings. Even if you don’t want to purchase a ring and just see where we call home, that is fine too. Call us today to schedule your appointment!
We hope this helps with your purchase and makes the whole process easier!
Simply Wood Rings is an eco-conscious company. You may be asking yourself “what does that even mean?” since we use wood for our rings. First of all, we do not cut down trees just for rings! This is a misconception that is frequently believed. We get our wood from a number of places, which I will explain below!
One place we get wood from is a company called Horigan Urban Forest Products. They recycle the urban forest here in Chicago to it’s highest possible uses. They use the same trees that go to firewood or mulch and turn them into usable hardwood lumber. They are committed to the environment by reducing the number of trees removed from the forest, the amount of fuel consumed for transportation, and the amount of carbon that is released into the atmosphere by sequestering it as hardwood lumber. Their beautiful wood is produced without a single tree being removed for lumber. All wood is originated from Chicago, Il.
We also get wood from artists and cabinet makers that have businesses in our building, the Midland building. The Midland Art and Design building is a collective of local artisans, craftsmen, and their respective companies. All M.A.D. members work under one roof and they design, create, showcase, and sell all forms of work + products within the Midland Building. Midland Art and Design is made up of furniture designers, print makers, installation artists, fashion designers, woodworkers, sculptors, and much more. So much lumber is left over from their projects, so we reuse that wood for our rings. It’s basically like dumpster diving and repurposing right in our own building.
One of the coolest ways we get our wood is from an old xylophone factory in Chicago. All of our rosewood comes from xylophone keys that were bought from that factory. The building is in Ravenswood and is called the Deagan building after the family that owned the xylophone factory. Now the building houses small companies, one of which is a glass factory.
Another cool way we get wood is that sometimes customers provide the wood they want us to use and then if they are really nice they will let us keep the leftover wood! We have been given baseball bats, part of a swing, a grandfather’s cane, and part of a barn door. These are all such awesome pieces and we get really excited when we are offered the chance to work with new wooden items.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For my wedding band I chose a woven design with two lines that interweave around the ring.
For 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.
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?
Getting dressed up is difficult for a lot of people. Maybe we’d rather wear jeans. (Today in the studio, all six of us are.) But maybe, too, the “formal” dress palette can seem limited. What you wear is an expression of who you are, or at the very least, it communicates nonverbally to those around you.For example: Gustav wears dark framed glasses; Amanda wears bright blue high-tops. Joe wears his favorite thrift store tees. Yolanda wears shirts featuring her favorite bands; Cesar wears a green hat every day. (It’s not his favorite hat. His favorite hat was some years ago eaten by an overly rambunctious Victorian bulldog named Malo). At Simply Wood Rings, we like to think that we offer alternatives to the usual fare. Most often, it’s custom rings, but occasionally we’ll make a pendant or a set of earrings. Recently, we got to make a set of cufflinks, made of spalted maple with a walnut inlay and hand-worked fine silver.
Aren’t they handsome?
Interested in your own, or something else in your mind’s eye?
This Saturday, we’re heading to the Indie Wed Pop Up, at super cool space in Humboldt Park – The Living Room – to meet folks and have impromptu design appointments.
Want to get in on the wonderland? Head here to buy a ticket, or email amanda (at) gustavreyes (dot) com to request a free ticket! We’ve got six to give away, so hop on it! Please include your full name and the number of tickets you need, and make sure to email by the end of Wednesday, September 24, 2014.
This week we’re packing up the studio with care, and heading to the northwestern side of Pilsen. We’ll be sad to say goodbye to everyone at MANA, but we’re so excited to meet our new community at the Midland Building.
Starting today, we’ll be able to receive mail at our new location, but will be accepting mail at our current location through early October.
Please send refinishes and materials to 1500 S. Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60608.
We love the Nuts About You ring for its monomaterial elegance: the wood is walnut, the inlay is crushed walnut.
Walnut is — as we 21st century eaters know — FULL of Omega-3s and healthy fats, protein and a great woody umami taste. It’s also known for focus, energy, and strength. Its scientific name — juglans — translates to “tree of Jupiter,” the Roman god of the sky, (Zeus, for you Greek myth nerdlets out there). It’s a plant which unites pragmatic functionality and heroic strength.
Convinced as we are? Head on over to the shop to get one on your functional, strong little finger.
We’re so excited to be a part of the 1st Chicago NotWedding, “a bridal show in the form of a big fake wedding” for couples planning to say “I Do!” The fab to-do is next Thursday, but the amazing Megan Saul did a Save The Date shoot with Ashley and Brian, the NotWedding already-married couple. (All the photos below are Megan’s, save the ring and studio shots.)The Bread and Butterfly made Ashley’s beautiful floral headpiece, and Chykalophia the sweet printed cards below.
And us? We made Ashley’s engagement ring!
Here it is up close! The concept for the wedding is “black tie,” and so we wanted to design a ring that united a crisp, modern, glamorous look with our warm natural aesthetic.
For the NotWedding engagement ring, we used salvaged juniper, crushed lava rock, white holly and gold leaf.
We can’t wait for the event, and to show you the wedding bands to match. For more information, check out the NotWedding site.
Like this ring? Want something like it? Head over to the Custom Rings page!
Often we only show you one view of a ring (so many rings, so little time!) but we thought we’d splash into the Photoshop pool to show you the many pretty and different views of the “x” inlay. Such movement!
In 1872 Ferdinand J. Herpers patented the prong setting for the Tiffany Company, who had introduced it as the “Tiffany Setting” in 1886.
It is an embrace of a setting, the prongs used in a similar way to how we use the fingers of our hands.
At SWR, we’re always amazed at how different one prong-set ring looks from another. Recently, we’ve moved away from a simple pin-mounted setting. We like to use a prong setting laser-welded to a metal ring inlay. as you’ll see below. We find they’re stronger that way, and quite striking.
There’s something about this ring that reminds us of the magical, the mythical, the fairy tale, the legendary. It’s a ring that unlocks, that graces a hero, that signifies unseen strength and depth.
It reminds us of the feeling you get in your chest, the embrace and tension, right before doing good: committing acts of kindness, making other peoples’ lives better in some small or large way. It’s the enjoyment of humanity and the collective.
Yes, we admit it. We are total and utter Romantic ring nerds. And we’re proud.
Hey, do you all remember the lovely Monica and Bob, the artist-musician couple we wrote about on the blog a couple months back?
We finished their rings! And they’re gorgeous.
Bob’s ring (bottom) is made of purpleheart, lined wenge. Monica’s (standing) is the reverse. As you can see, both the purpleheart and the wenge have a crazy amount of tonal depth. The variance of wood never ceases to amaze us. We guess that’s why we dedicate a lot of our lives to it.
Want to make us a ring of a special wood or material in your life?
Matt and Tatiana thought they’d get the rings all wrapped up and head out but when they tried them on, they didn’t want to take them off! We asked them to pose for a few candids, then sent them off in the direction of a favorite neighborhood restaurant. When clients are around, the joy just does not stop!
Their rings are rosewood and mother of pearl. Like the looks of them? Check out the shop.
This is what happened when we asked them to kiss for the camera:
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?
Want to own your own guitar string ring? Head over to our Custom Orders page to start the show!
We love all of our clients, so much. We love talking to them and collaborating with them and taking pictures of their bright, beautiful faces when they stop by the shop. Most of all: we love that we get to share in the making of a meaningful object.
Often, those meaningful objects are engagement, wedding, and commitment rings. And we’re so excited to contribute to so many special days!
Because of this, we often find ourselves at wedding-centric events. We don’t often go to large conventional expos–most people there are on the search for more traditional rings–and so it’s special, niche events where we turn up. They’re chock-full of sweet people and pretty things, cleverness and magic and light. We were used to the idea of setting up the rings, talking to folks, being a part of the fair melee. We figured we knew the routine. Until now.
From our friends at Green Wedding Alliance (with whom we do the fantastic, annual “Committed” show), we heard about THE NOT WEDDING.
It’s not a wedding, but it’s not not a wedding.
And we’re pleased as punch to be providing the engagement rings and wedding bands for the not-couple, who are local Chicago married folks who will be renewing their vows at the event.
We’ll also be in the Tunnel of Love (vendor fair) to talk to guests about our rings and their dreams!
So join us for a dynamite dinner, super-fun dance floor, and awesome, hand-picked vendor-rama to get some great ideas for your own special day.
Interested in coming? Want a discounted ticket? We’d love to share our golden tickets. Email Amanda at amanda @ gustavreyes DOT com to let us know!
When you receive your Simply Wood Ring, you’ll receive a thank you note from us: we believe it’s important to display our gratitude on a daily basis, many times over. We’re are lucky — SO LUCKY — to be working with wonderful people and beautiful materials day in and day out.
Allison — who gets to talk to clients and collaborate on rings every day — sometimes adds her own little flair to the notes…and what a flair it is!
Allison wishes a client happy birthday:
Allison lets another member of the team know she says “hello!”:
Allison draws a pensive portrait of Gustav, accompanied by a similarly pensive quote:
Allison keeps this moustachioed gentleman-ring* nearby for jazzy midday inspiration:
Our client Suzie sent us the SWEETEST email, one in a series of VERY SWEET emails:
“I just don’t think we would have ever felt like this about any other rings. It’s like they’re alive and a piece of us, a piece of one another. This morning I received a text from Niche stating how sad he was because he forgot to put his ring back on when he got out of the shower before work. And then a little later on he sent me one stating that it’s bad enough being without me all day, but since he’s been wearing his ring it’s like he can look down and there I am with him all the time and it makes his day better, but today he hasn’t even had that. It’s just crazy how something so simple like a wooden ring can carry so much weight.
I don’t usually like to place much value in material things, but these really are different. They really are a part of something. A part of us, and you, and the craftsperson, and Chicago, and the tree, and the stones, and the Earth. They really are FULL circles.
It’s just really nice and comforting to feel the ‘warmth of wood’ (pretty sure I stole that from y’all somewhere along the way) and know that there are people out there who have respect for and honor their work and nature.”
Sales-wonder Allison collaborated with Suzie to design this beautiful natural diamond, patina’d silver and rich walnut ring. Niche’s is a simple and beautiful walnut band, to match.
We love seeing where our rings end up! If you have one of our rings, we’d love to see a professional ceremony shot, amateur snap, or recent selfie. Show us your be’ringed adventures! Show us the work in beautiful motion! Email amanda (at) gustavreytes (dot) com with your shots and we’ll post them here!
When Michael and Sarah came into the shop, you could feel the sweet energy coming off them. Their love was almost a physical presence. It was a hot, sticky day here in Pilsen, but knowing that we’d get to show Michael and Sarah their awesome fossil rings kept us alert. (What would we do after? Gulp some coffee and continue to serve, if a bit sluggishly…)
Sarah and Michael’s rings, set with fossils they found together, and made with foraged Koa they brought from Hawaii.
The couple admires Sarah’s ring!
Sarah takes a closer look.
< Sarah’s earrings are wood too! And beautiful.
The lovely couple…and baby-in-belly makes three!
Michael and Sarah, we wish you a happy and sweet life. Thanks for bringing your joy into the studio!
These rings came out of the shop today and made us moon-eyed.
Partnerships are all about balance, or a constant engagement to work toward balance.
These rings — ebony and birdseye maple — present and enactment of those sweet efforts. The throughline, what binds them, is a shimmering inlay of ruby, yellow topaz, and mother of pearl.
In the pictured rough-hewn box, the rings will have a beautiful place to rest together, while their owners going swimming or rock climbing or whatever heavy activities they like to do.
A scrap of a poem, from Alice Notley’s “Clinical Thermometer with Moonstone,” via The Poetry Foundation: “I love you as a fan loves air. oops it’s vice-versa I told you about that character She is a bezel awaiting the plop of a ruby she must grow chronically”
We wish for the wearers of these rings to grow chronically, together, in balance, and to have a beautiful life together!
This ring is made of the wood of a bagpipe key, brought in by a couple with a particularly sweet story. Both police officers, yet strangers to each other, they found themselves at a ceremony for fallen members of the force in Washington, D.C. For it, he performed on a bagpipe, and she watched. When afterwards they struck up a conversation, they discovered that they both lived and worked in Chicago: one from the Northside (Go Cubs!) and Southside (Go Sox!); but they had never met in their own city.
Returning to Chicago, they fell in love, and by and by they came to us for his wedding band. Gustav, always looking to make custom rings as meaningful as possible, asked whether they could get a broken bagpipe pipe. They found one at the local music shop: a vintage one made of African Blackwood and ivory.
Cesar, captain of the shop and all that is good in the world, sliced a bit off, and sanded it until it was ready to be wrapped. The result is slick and classy and rich. We can’t wait to show it off to the happy couple.
“Urbs In Hoto” is the Chicago city motto. It means “City in a Garden,” and anyone who’s spent any time in our hometown knows why. The land is full of parks and trees and nature in every available corner.
This afternoon, at the direction of a client, we took the motto literally, and made the city flag out of fauna. It’s freshly made by our expert artisans (with a special shout-out to Joe, for the #flawless inlay), out of oak with red and blue fluorite.
We’re all crushing on it, and Gustav already has a plan to make a version of it with lighter, locally foraged maple.
In case you (like some of us transplants) didn’t know, the four stars of the Chicago flag represent Fort Dearborn (first built on the banks of the river in what’s now the Loop); the Great Chicago Fire (certainly a transformative moment); and the World’s Columbian Express, and the Century of Progress Exposition rounding up the count.
Interested in your own Chicago or [TO WHATEVER YOU PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE] ring? Sidle on up to our pretty new site, and contact us with ideas, dreams, challenges, and questions!
It’s almost our 10th anniversary. Technically, traditionally, that’s tin, but we prefer to think of it as “double-wood”! As a gift to ourselves, and a gift to you, we’ve put together a sweet new site that tells your stories and displays everything that makes us special as a company. (Hint: a large part of that is you all.)
First, here’s what the site looked like in 2006. A bit nineties, to our eye, for sure. It’s nice, though, to see we had that simple elegance from the start. [Insert winking emoticon here!]
And, [drum roll as loud as thunder], here’s our brand new look!
On the site, (which can still be found at simplywoodrings.com), you’ll be able to get to the meat of the matter (wood rings! how wonderful they are! how to take care of them! the team!) while enjoying beautiful pictures of our wares, all under the sheltering sky (banner) the color of seawater in a cave.
We hope you’ll take time to explore the new site. Contact us with comments and suggestions. In the coming week, we’ll be expanding the gallery selection to show off even more beauty that’s coming out of the shop.
“This is the world’s reenactment of today, and of this moment, and of continuing on-with its satellite imaging of scattering birds obscuring our faces—and this is the world’s reenactment of its percentages: of the constant shifting of the satellites and the constant scattering of the birds and the likelihood that we will be seen; and this is the reenactment of someone choosing your face” from “Equation for Cresting” by Christopher Bolin, via Verse Daily
These summer weeks our studio fills with light and noise.
These summer weeks out studio fills with light and joy.
Even the peregrine falcons have been hooting and squeaking and swooping, like, they know. (Or perhaps, with Field Museum visitors, and three little newly-hatched babes, they’ve got their own sweet hubbub!)
So many wonderful people are getting married at the end of June! And we’re making wood rings for everyone, or, it certainly seems that way.
Lisa and Denise came in to pick up their rings earlier this week, for a private commitment ceremony. They were freshly back from Kenya, and “accidentally” wearing coordinated shirts featuring elephants from their travels.
It was so wonderful to spend time with these two as they tried on their rings–rosewood, moissanite, and mother of pearl–and made sure just they were just right.
Allison consults with Lisa and Denise about the right fit.
Lisa and Denise try the rings on for size for the first time!
Denise takes a closer look.
The happy couple!
We couldn’t be happier for Lisa and Denise, and wish them a lifetime together of joy and adventure.
If you need us, we’ll be sanding and wrapping, packing and shipping, sighing and stretching, and ready for more!
Or perhaps ground pyrite (fool’s gold), shimmering under the finish as it would in the fast currents of the creek.
Fool’s gold itself (image by Didier Descouens, via Wikipedia
At the studio, one of us remembers discovering a chunk of pyrite during a creek walk at Pilgrim Hills. She was five at the time, and only beginning to understand the idea of currency. Fishing it up from the sandy bottom, she hollered: “We’re rich!” Like Scrooge McDuck or Donald Trump. Her mother giggled a bit, had to explain as they walked home that though the rock was beautiful, it wasn’t gold. Their bank balance would remain the same. They would have to skip a lazy backstroke through a room-sized vault of doubloons. They watched a whitetail deer mince along the treeline. “But it’s still really beautiful,” her mother said. “You should keep it on your windowsill where it’ll reflect the light.”
At Simply Wood Rings, we work with this kind of beauty: the natural, the authentic. Sure: money helps us all live in our contemporary lives, but natural beauty feeds a different part. This is why we love doing what we do. We’re not only spellbound but inspired by our materials, their past lives, their journeys. They reflect our own evolutions as people on a planet full of uncountable types and forms of beauties.
Style and adornment are a way to embolden and announce your interiority to the outside world. So, let’s all be authentic. Let’s all greet the world with kindness. Embrace who you are and who you strive to be.
Most of the people we work with come to us at a time of engagement, marriage or anniversary: they’re affirming and reaffirming their commitment to each other, the value of good Earth citizenship, and the lifecycle of matter.
But there isn’t any reason to save that celebration for just a romantic occasion
Consider, adorning your hand with a reminder of the things you believe.
Consider, giving your best friend a birthday present that means something special.
Consider, passing on a talisman of earth to a family member, a tree to the family tree.
We believe that we make objects that mean something, out of materials that are sustainable. By wearing one of our rings, you can make your own meaning. Why wait to have or give that? Here are two new rings that we love, that work perfectly no matter the purpose.
Dyed birdseye maple with a rosewood interior.
In real life, this beauty shimmers like we imagine a mermaid might. Or, it is the silver of a spring, or the sweet ethereal mist of twilight. Wearing a ring like this inserts some magic dreaminess into the everyday.
Rosewood, using the natural color abnormality of the lumber
This one by design uses contrast and as a result feels uber-contemporary. Like dominoes or like black-and-white cookies, the colors work together strikingly. In it is confidence, a 3″-high newspaper headline, strength and force and elegance all at once.
Let our work be one small step toward matching your insides to your outsides. May you find pleasure therein.
Every morning, on our way into the studio, we walk by a beautiful streetside tumble of native plants. Some are bristly, others green, with blossoms punctuating the landscape.
Along Cermak, on each block, there is a post, with an informative sign, and a small vertical wind mill, and a solar panel.
Our neighborhood is fairly industrial, so the green, as it grows throughout this hot and wet season, makes us smile.
But where did it come from? In 2012, Chicago’s Sustainability Office set out to make Cermak — a main east-west artery that hosts everything from family restaurants and schools, to artists studios, and factories, even a food truck parking lot — the “Greenest Street in Chicago.” Awesome eco-sustainable-nature/people-loving things they did to make this happen include:
recycled and reused construction materials
energy-saving reflective paving
concrete that includes titanium dioxide to break down pollutants on the surface and up to 8 feet in the air (smog eaters!)
environment-responsive lights, powered by solar and wind collection
diversion of 80% of rainwater to sustainable landscaping (bioswales*)
use of native and/or drought-resistant plants
more bike racks
educational signage (like the one in the video above!)
*Bioswales involve grading the land and choosing sustainable plants in order to direct, filter, and make better use of rainwater.
One day while waiting for the bus, we watched a man pick up litter and throw it away. We followed suit. It definitely takes a community to support a sustainability plan; infrastructure can only go so far. Doing good together feels great.
We love that our environment matches up with our own SWR mission to make life better for people and the planet at the same time!
FOR MORE INFO: You can access a pdf of the original plan here, and a great Dwell interview with “Complete Streets” program director Janet Attarian here.
The other day, a sweet customer named Oliver sent our sales superstar Allison a grow-a-garden thank you note!
This is what it looked like last week. Then, over the weekend, the little sprouts got sad without their daily water. Gustav said that without decay we cannot have growth, but Allison added a little water and nudged them toward the sun’s rays with hope in her heart.
Now the sprouts seem to be bouncing back! The garden is a “matchgarden” by Another Studio, which has loads of beautifully designed and affordable gifts.
It makes us think of one of our favorite environmentally-minded landscape techniques: front lawns with sustainable, native plants, or vegetable gardens instead of grass. Our own building’s front yard has some super-cool bioswales, but that’s a horse of a different color, or a blog of a different color, or for a different day, or…
“… I do not know the dreams from which I have come,/sent into the world without the blessing of a kiss, behind the/willow trees, beside the darkened pansies on the deck beside/the ships, rocking, I have written this, across the back of the/sky, wearing a small and yellow shirt, near the reptile house,/mammalian, no bigger than the herd…”
It’s warm and humid in the studio today and so we’ve been thinking a lot about thirst. A willow tree thrives best at the edge of the water, working hard, stretching its roots outward for sustenance. Perhaps it’s all the heat, but we totally “get” where the willow is coming from today.
Across global cultures, the thirsty willow has been a symbol for keeping in touch with our kindred history and those that came before. Its leaves were used by the ancient Egyptians to control pain, a precursor to modern aspirin. A willow soothes and connects. Because of this, a willow ring is a wonderful way to honor special moments, relationships, and lives, and we think our engagement-profile willow ring says a big, joyous thing in an elegant, quiet, design-forward way.
Our willow is sourced from our friends at Horigan Urban Forest, who found a fallen willow tree at a Skokie elementary school that had been loved a bit too much by the local kids. With its all-wood abstracted engagement profile, and warm honeyed tone, it’s a great fit for minimalists and romantics alike. And to fit this beauty of a ring to your life, we offer wood burning personalization. What could be better.
For now we’ll drink a big glass of water, remember last winter’s snow and ice, and be grateful for being right where we are.
When we think of our bogwood rings, they bring to mind mizzle (mist + drizzle, a real and wonderful word) and mystery: a tree fallen into a peat bog and grown-over centuries ago, not petrified nor decayed, a sort of immortal thing, just beginning to be a fossil.
As one of us said today: it’s easy to write a romantic blog post about bogwood, because bogwood is so romantic!
Indeed, what more do we want of our love than to hold it close, and feel it everlasting? Often in Ireland, bogwood logs — once of oak or pine, yew or cypress — are dredged from their wet climes and placed into piled cairns, meant to mark a trail. Or else a canny harvester looks for the last-left frost across the peat: wherever there is still frost, bogwood can be found below. Being such “new” people in the presence of such an old material makes us feel quite pleasantly agog. To wear such a ring unites us with the earth and everything. The bogwood rings, too, make us misty eyed, and remember the specialness of life, where we are coming from and where we are going, as Italo Calvino writes in Invisible Cities: “The city…does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.”