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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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Unique Ideas for Wooden Ring Inlays

Consider the Inlay 

One of the benefits of wood rings, especially for commitment jewelry, is near endless possibility for personalized inlay options. We have written posts in the past about custom inlays, commissioned by clients, and about our favorite inlays but we've been hanging out on Pinterest recently and found some inspiration.

Love Letters


love letter

Johnny Cash / House of Cash / Via beaglestreet.com

Custom rings with client-provided love notes.

love letter wood ring inlay

The poet John Keats to his lover Fanny Brawne / Haverford College / Via beaglestreet.com

We have actually inlaid love notes once before--written on colored sticky notes. It's a romantic idea to keep the confidence, secrets, and endearment of your lover close to your body at all times. Plus, if the notes are on colored paper, the visual outcome produces a trippy, marbled effect. 

Memorable Ticket Stubs


unique wood ring inlays

Train Tickets / Image source : presentandcorrect.com

wood ring sports ticket

Memorabilia / Ticket Stub / Source ebay.com

Ticket Stubs

Ticket Stubs / photo credit beeperbee.tumblr.com

In the same vein as above, you could inlay tickets from a fair you went to together, the cinema where you had your first date, or from a memorable sports event. 

Sand from Faraway Places


wood ring sand inlay

Faraway Sand / Iceland / Photo source, desevre.tumblr.com

pink sand wood ring inlay

Faraway Sand / Tunisia / Photo source : thestylishgypsy.tumblr.com

We do often inlay sand from beaches all around the world. If you and your lover travel into the wild unknown, bottling some of that wanderlust makes for an inspiring ring. 

Seeds


seed inlay wood rings

Branch of Argyrodendron Seeds / Via australiangeographic.com.au

wood ring inlay seeds

Vintage Seed Catalog / Smithsonian / http://www.sil.si.edu/

seed inlay wood rings

Coral Bean Seeds / John Petranka / Via Pinterest

Naturally, our wooden rings are biodegradable. To capitalize on this, you could encapsulate seeds that might grow from the ring if it happened to find its way back to the earth. 

Heirloom Fabric


fabric inlay wooden ring

Pocket Square / Photo via Anna Price Olson / Pinterest

wood ring unique inlay

Vintage Lace / Photo source : auctiva.com

fabric inlay wood ring

Vintage fabric created by designer Barbara Brown / Via blog.ounodesign.com

This could be anything : fabric you own from a beloved family member, leftovers from designing your wedding dress, your partner's pocket square, ribbons that hold special meaning for you, fabric from the blanket you had a picnic on together, the list is inexhaustible. 

Verdant Matter


wooden ring inlay flowers

Asrai Garden Bouquet / Instagram

cactus flower wood ring inlay

Flowering Cactus / Saguaro National Park / Photo from Roadtrippers.com

fern inlay wood rings

Ferns and other Verdant Matter / unknown source / Pinterest.com

You might consider having stand-in rings for your ceremony so that you can use the flowers from your bouquet in your wedding band. Or, if there are any other verdant things that have special meaning to you, consider having them preserved in your ring--to keep close at all times. 


Hope we've sparked some inspiration! 

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Birthwood Introduces Pendants!


Birthwood Pendants Celebrate Life Wood Jewelry


Birthwood Pendant


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. 

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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! 

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How to have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving

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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.

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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.

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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! 

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4 Ways to Give Eco-Friendly Gifts This Season!

Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Ideas

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. 

EDF Logo Background

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!

Penguin Foot Pottery Chicago

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. 

Polymer Clay Necklace
Polymer Clay Necklace
Polymer Clay Necklace

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. 

Alapash Home and Terrarium


Don't forget to look through our ring selection for some eco-conscious gifts as well! 

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Strength Of Souls

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!!

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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. 

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Oak

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

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.

Malachite 

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.

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What Makes Willow Wood so Wonderful?

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Willow is the Birthwood that represents the month os September and is one of our favorite woods! The willow tree has always been one of my favorite trees, but it can be used for many different things and has many different meanings! 

Willow Tree

Willow is a decidedly aromatic tree found most often near waterways throughout temperate regions. It has a history of a long- standing relationship of usefulness- medicinal, magical, and otherwise. The willow tree is most associated with the moon, water, Goddesses, and all that is feminine. It is the tree of dreaming and deep emotions. It is a tree of enchantment and was associated in Celtic folklore with poets and spells of fascination. The energy of the willow wood puts us in touch with our deepest emotions and inspires us to come to an understanding of ourselves. It stimulates our intuituve side and helps us find the right path in life. 

Willow Wood

The North American indigenous tribe called the Seneca, has a long bond with the willow tree. They consider it to be a source of gentile humility, charm, and grace. 

On an herbal level, willow bark has been used for it's pain-relieving qualities for at least 2,000 years. All varieties of the tree can be used as an eyewash, to clear skin, and get rid of dandruff. Willow has also been known to be useful in cases of nervousness and hysteria. It can be used to loosen the chest when someone is sick with a cough or pneumonia as well. 

Now that you know some more about the willow tree, check out our Birthwood ring section to see our Willow Wood ring and the rest of our Birthwood line! 

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The Wonderful World of Birthstones!

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Have you ever thought to yourself, "why is my birthstone important and where does it even come from?" I have in the past, because without research, I had no idea why my birthstone was deemed what it is. We use birthstones in our Birthwood rings along with the wood for each birth month. We crush up the stones and use them as an inlay in each month's ring. Each birthstone has meaning associated with it and a deep geological history. In this segment of our new blog series "The Wonderful World of Birthstones" we will delve into the stone of September, saphhire ! This one is for all you Virgo's and Libra's out there. 


Sapphire is a form of the mineral corundum, and it exists in a range of colors from light to dark blue. Corundum is the second-hardest mineral after diamond and occurs in a wide variety of colors. Sapphire is any form of corundum that is not red, as red varieties are called rubies. Sapphires can be formed in crystalline limestone, gneiss, schist, and other crystalline rocks. Gem varieties occur chiefly in placer (river gravel) deposits.

Sapphires were believed to have special protective powers, such as preventing envy and protecting the wearer from poisoning. Some ancient cultures even thought that if a sapphire container held a venomous snake, it would die. To the ancient and medieval world, Sapphire of heavenly blue signified the height of celestial hope and faith, and was believed to bring protection, good fortune and spiritual insight. It was a symbol of power and strength, but also of kindness and wise judgment. In addition, people believed that sapphire had medical healing properties, such as the ability to cure colic, rheumatism, blindness, and mental illnesses. Today Sapphire is still a Stone of Wisdom, a royal stone of learning, mental acuity and psychic activation, a seeker after spiritual truth.

Sapphire is traditonally the stone known to be used as a 45th anniversary gift. It was also one of the 12 precious stones to be set in the breastplate of the High Priest of Israel. 

Now that you know a little bit more about the wonderful world of sapphires, go check out our sapphire and willow wood Birthwood ring for the month of September! 

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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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The Importance of Ephemeral Jewelry

Jewelry has been around from the beginning of time. Some of the first recorded jewelry was made by neanderthals using bones they found. The earliest finding of jewelry was dated around 25,000 years ago. This simple necklace made of fish bones was found in a cave in Monaco.

Of course, jewelry made thousands of years ago isn’t like the jewelry we wear today. When researching ancient jewelry and techniques that civilizations used, one thing I found to be interesting was the ephemeral nature of most of the jewelry. A lot of the time at the office we speak about our jewelry as being ephemeral because of the nature of the material we use. This transient nature is one of the main reasons we use wood. Wood is fragile, it connects us to the earth, it doesn’t last forever, and keeps us in the present moment. I saw that in some of the materials that were used in ancient jewelry, like shells, feathers, hair, rope, wood, and bone. All of these materials are episodic, impermanent, and temporary, and in this we find beauty.

Jewelry has been around from the beginning of time. Some of the first recorded jewelry was made by neanderthals using bones they found. The earliest finding of jewelry was dated around 25,000 years ago. This simple necklace made of fish bones was found in a cave in Monaco. Of course, jewelry made thousands of years ago isn’t like the jewelry we wear today. When researching ancient jewelry and techniques that civilizations used, one thing I found to be interesting was the ephemeral nature of most of the jewelry. A lot of the time at the office we speak about our jewelry as being ephemeral because of the nature of the material we use. This transient nature is one of the main reasons we use wood. Wood is fragile, it connects us

Feather and Shell Necklace from New Guinea  photo courtesy of pinterest


In New Guinea, people started making jewelry with the objects they found around them, like bones, tusks, teeth, and gemstones. Some of the jewelry that they created was highly valued because of how impermanent it was. They would create pieces from flowers, rare shells, and precious stones. These pieces connected them to the land they were from, and gave them a sense of identity and place in the world. The pieces were not about durability, but about importance in the moment. In Africa, a lot of tribes used wood to carve into beads and paint and then string together for necklaces. The wood was a material they had readily available, but at the same time served as a connection for them to the land they appreciated and represented.

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African Wood Necklaces  photo courtesy of interestingafricafacts.com

Jewelry later came to denote human connection and commitment to one another. Slaves were made to wear bracelets to show who they belonged to. Wedding rings symbolized the commitment two people had for each other. Some jewelry of the ephemeral nature that represents this concept is Victorian hair jewelry. People would take the hair from deceased loved ones and weave it into necklaces and other pieces of jewelry.

                                Victorian Hair Jewelry  Photo Courtesy of Gordon McDowell

These are all examples of jewelry that weren't intended to last forever, like a diamond or precious metal, but were made to have a specific significance in place and time that was important to the person wearing the piece. Jewelry is special in that it connects us to the people around us and the place where the materials are from. We take pride in these values since we use all locally salvaged wood and the stories of our customers.