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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 Voyager (or Electrician) Da 

Field Notes are outstanding notebooks made in Chicago, created by Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Co. This pack of three "Expedition" ready notebooks have been tested by Field Notes (albeit in a quirky pseudo-scientific manner) to resist tears, flame, water, acid, and extreme temperatures. So, we think this is a great gift for the experimenting, expedition-taking, rough-handling father in your life. A pack of three costs $12.95. Also, consider a Space Pen to go with it. 

+ 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.

strength, souls, rings, wedding rings, wedding, engagement, wood, wooden rings, wooden, malachite, turquoise, oak
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What Makes Willow Wood so Wonderful?

willow, sapphire, september, bark, birthwood, wood,  chicago, wood rings, wedding, wedding rings

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!

birthstones, birthday, birthwood, wooden rings, wedding rings, rings, engagement rings, simply wood rings


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! 

sapphire, blue, blue sapphire, wedding, rings, engagement rings, wedding, wooden, wood, simply wood rings, wooden rings
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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.

african jewelry, jewelry, wooden jewelry, wood, tribal, painted wood, beads, necklaces, ephemeral

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.

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Birthwood Give Back to the Community Part 2!

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

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

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Interview with our Owner Gustav!

We recently interviewed our owner here at Simply Wood Rings, and we decided to share it with you! Gustav started Simply Wood Rings ten years ago, so we thought it was time to ask him some questions about why and how he began Simply Wood Rings! 



Tell us a little about yourself and your business:

I was born in Mexico and raised in the United States. My father was a carpenter, so there was wood around me all the time growing up. He also studied jewelry in his free time and would bring me to the studio in Pilsen where he would learn techniques from other jewelry designers. A lot of his work inspired me at a young age, along with the Pilsen neighborhood where my business is located today. I attended the Art Institute where I studied painting and drawing, but afterwards I worked in construction for many years. While working in construction, I decided to start learning how to do woodworking so I could start making furniture. During that time, my partner, who is now my wife, asked me to create a wooden ring for her. I told her I didn’t think I could make one without compromising the integrity of the wood, but she insisted. She came to me with ideas on how to make one, but I kept pushing the idea away. After she insisted more and more, she came up with a technique of wrapping the wood where the wood had enough integrity to be wearable. It was from her that the whole process came to be. We have now been in business for the past ten years with no looking back.

Why wooden rings?

I wanted to create an alternative to traditional rings for people. Wood is an alternative to traditional structure, large corporations, and traditional ideas of “forever.” When you wear a wooden ring, it demands your attention. You have to be mindful of the material you are wearing and it brings you into the present moment. As humans, we aren’t put on this Earth forever, and the wooden ring reminds us of our fragility and how it is important to be mindful in the present. We don’t exist in the future, we exist now, just like wood. Our business is also eco-friendly and the wood we use is all salvaged from around Chicago.

What inspires you?

I am inspired mostly by the material itself and the stories of people we work with. Wood translates well to the sentimental connections we make with our customers because wood already holds an authentic position in the world of materials. Our customers have amazing stories that we use in our rings, and each ring is completely different than any others because of that. When I started making wooden items, I made keepsake boxes for women to place sentimental items in. The connection between wood and these objects creates a story unique to each individual, and that translated into our mission with Simply Wood Rings. I am also inspired by providing the alternative to metal rings that people may have not known existed prior to me starting my business.

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Hollywood In Chicago


hollywood, chicago, film, movies, pilsen, midland, rings, wood, ring, handmade

Photo via americastours.net

      Here at the shop, we are all big film lovers. Our shop is located inside a building in Chicago called the Midland Building, and we found out that part of the movie Divergent was filmed on our roof! We thought it was so cool that we should share it with you. The Midland Building is an old industrial building, which is a perfect setting for the futuristic, sci-fi, urban dystopia in Divergent. You can see other distinguishable landmarks in the movie, like the Willis Tower, the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, and the Chicago River. 

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Divergent was filmed with the company Cinespace, which is a block away from our building. Cinespace is responsible for shows like Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Empire. We even saw Sophia Bush on the street one day while walking to lunch! If you ever want to try to catch a glimpse of a movie or T.V. show being filmed, head on over to Pilsen to check it out! 

Below is a video that shows the characters jumping onto the Midland Building! 

Check out Cinespace by going to their website: http://www.chicagofilmstudios.com

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Ideas For Showing Your Mother Love On Mother’s Day

Mother's rings

Mother's Day is right around the corner, just five days away!! We are so excited and have thought of different events you can go to in Chicago with your mother or gifts you can send to her! Whether you are able to spend Mother's Day with your mom or not, show her some love this year with an extra special something. 

Places to go in Chicago

Events

1) Magnolia Bakery - http://www.magnoliabakery.com/

Photo via www.chicagodining.com 

Is your mom an avid baker or lover of sweets? Magnolia Bakery is offering a special Mother's Day class where you and your mom can learn how to make and decorate their world famous cupcakes. Your mom will always have a fun dessert to bring to parties after learning these techniques! 

2) Rebuilding Exchange - http://rebuildingexchange.org/

If your mom is the craft type, you could take her to a woodworking workshop at the rebuilding exchange. The Rebuilding Exchange uses all salvaged materials, which is why we love them! They have workshops from wooden planters to frame building just for you and your mom on Mother's Day. She will always have a reminder of what a special day you planned for her with her handmade craft. 

3) Green City Markethttp://www.greencitymarket.org/

Photo via www.gapersblock.com 

The Saturday before Mother's Day the Green City Market has it's first farmer's market of the season! Grab some fresh, local fruits and veggies with your mom so the two of you can cook an amazing brunch together on Sunday! You could even have a picnic in the park after exploring the market. 

4) City Winery -http://www.citywinery.com/chicago/

If you want to relive some memories with your mom over a glass of wine, head over to City Winery for their story sessions brunch. They will be featuring stories about moms all day in honor of Mother's Day. 

Restaurants

1) The Dawson - http://www.the-dawson.com/

Looking for a brunch place with an outdoor patio and fireplace? Look no further than the Dawson. They have one of the best patios in the city with an amazing Mother's Day brunch menu to go with it. 

2) Cindy's - http://www.cindysrooftop.com/

Photo via www.chicagoculturalmag.com

Another restaurant with an amazing outdoor area is Cindy's. They are located on the 13th floor of the Athletic Association building and provide views of Millennium Park from their balcony. You could even walk over to the Art Institute afterwards and see the Van Gogh exhibit before it leaves.

3) Bohemian House - http://www.bohochicago.com/

photo via www.yelp.com

If you are looking for an escape from the city look no further than Bohemian House. Being there will make you feel like you have traveled from Chicago to Eastern Europe. They have a special brunch menu for Mother's Day and a build your own mimosa bar. What more could you ask for? 

Gifts

Not able to spend time with your mom on Mother's Day? We also have some great gift ideas for her!

1) Michelle Starbuck Designs  - https://michellestarbuckdesigns.com

We are always on the lookout for awesome jewelry and we love Michelle Starbuck! Her designs are super sleek and beautiful, perfect for any mother. 

2) Little Seed Farm Soaphttp://littleseedfarm.com/

photo via www.littleseedfarm.com

This soap is made from goat's milk from a farm in Tennessee, what could be cuter? You can even "meet" the goats on their website. They also have awesome wooden soap dishes. A perfect gift for the mother who loves to pamper herself 

3) CAsouls -  https://www.etsy.com/

CAsouls creates morse code bracelets and necklaces, which we think is pretty awesome. Why not get a necklace that says "mom" in morse code so you and your mom can have a special secret together? They are also beautiful pieces of jewelry. 

We hope that you all have an amazing Mother's Day this year and we hope our list helped you with some ideas! 

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Mother’s Wood Rings

Mother's Day is fast approaching, and we have the perfect ring for a Mother or Mother-to-be. We have taken the concept from Birthwood and came up with the design for a ring that is centered around a mother and her child or multiple children. 

The Mother's Ring is the idea that you would take a mother's birthwood and use it as the base wood for a ring, then inlay the birthstones of however many children she has in the center. You can use this idea for a grandmother, mother, sister, wife, or any woman in your life who has children. This is also a perfect ring for men as Father's Day approaches!

Mother's Ring using Birthwood Willow and inlays of Opal and Black Pearl 

Another way you can make a ring for your mother, grandmother, or wife is by using the concept from our Sitting in a Tree Ring. This ring uses the birthwood that represents the anniversary of the couple as the base wood, then has inlays of the birthwoods that represent the parents sandwiching inlays of the children's birthstones in the center. 

Sitting in a Tree Ring with Cherry as the base wood, with inlays of Walnut, Imperial Topaz, Amethyst, and Pine.

​Both ideas make for a very unique present to give the woman in your life! If you order your Mother's Ring between now and May 8th, you will receive a free container of ring balm and an extra special surprise. If you do want to receive the ring by Mother's Day, make sure to get your order in by March 31st!


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How To Make Valentine’s Day Cards From Recycled Paper!

Valentine's Day, Cards, Paper, Recyle

We are an eco-friendly business and are always thinking of ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle everything around us. With Valentine's Day coming up, we wanted to offer directions for how to make your own homemade paper from paper scraps lying around! This is a good way to recycle and reuse, and is also going to make your cards unique from all other cards! 

How To Make Paper

Tear scrap paper into small pieces.

Each piece should measure no larger than roughly 1 inch (2.54 cm).

Make a frame.

This step can be done while your paper scraps are soaking.

  • Cut a hole in the bottom of a disposable brownie pan. An aluminum pan is best, as it can be cut using sharp scissors. The hole should be rectangular and 1 inch (2.54 cm) smaller on all sides than the bottom of the pan.
Paper making, recycling, valentine's day
  • Place a piece of screen or wire mesh in the pan. To keep it from falling through the hole, simply cut it the size of the pan bottom.
Make a slurry of paper pulp.
  • Fill a blender with warm water, halfway. Add some of the shredded and soaked paper--about a handful. At medium speed, blend the water and paper until it takes on a soupy consistency.
  • Pour the slurry into a large tub. Fill the tub with warm water. Mix the tub contents until they are evenly incorporated. At this point you can add food coloring if you want to make colored paper!
  • Holding the pan level, shake all the extra water out. Use your hands to press the pulp against the screen to get more water out. 
  • Place the frame on a clean, dry towel and press paper out onto towel.
  • Place another towel on top of paper, and roll over with a rolling pin to get extra water out.
  • Peel paper off towel and set somewhere to dry overnight.

Voila!  You have your own homemade paper for Valentine's Day cards! Cut into whatever shape you want and send to your friends and family!

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Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Day Guide

Valentine's day is just around the corner, and it's never too early to start planning a date or gift for that special someone in your life! There are so many places to go and gifts to choose from in a city as big as Chicago, but we are here to help you be as socially and environmentally conscious as possible as you plan for Valentine's day. As an Eco-Friendly business we know of some great Eco-Friendly date spots in the city for all of our customers! We also have some great ideas for custom Valentine's day rings if you need an Eco-Friendly gift to give.  Keep reading to see our list of date spots and ideas for custom rings!

Date Spots

    One of the nation's premier conservatories with six multi-faceted greenhouses and two grand exhibition halls. Admission is always free! 

                          Located in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago, Hamburger Mary's uses all certified humane meat, recycled materials for packaging, and CFL and LED lights. 

    • Lincoln Park Conservatory - 2391 N. Stockton Dr. Chicago, Illinois 60614

                      Placed in Lincoln Park, this conservatory has some of the best plants and flowers around. It is also right next to the zoo if you feel like heading over afterwards!

    • Xoco - 449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

                  Rick Bayless' Restaurant XOCO features some of the best gourmet Mexican food around. XOCO has a massive rooftop garden and uses 40% less water than a standard restaurant of comparable size, making it a great green establishment.

            This restaurant's water is heated by solar panels on the roof, all of the wood products are from fallen trees in Jackson Park, and both its locations feature rooftop gardens.

    • Trattoria 10 - 10 N Dearborn St #1, Chicago, IL 60602

Named one of the first "Guaranteed Green" restaurants in Chicago in 2010, this upscale dining experience features all locally sourced food. 

Ring Ideas

February is the month of the Birthwood Hackberry! Our Hackberry Birthwood ring with its amethyst birthstone inlay is a perfect Valentine's day gift. Maybe there is a different month that is special to you or your partner? You can always go to our birthwood page and customize a ring by combining any Birth Wood with any birthstone inlay.

​Check out our Birthwood Page here!

                                                                                                                                        Amethyst                                                                                                                                                                    

Hackberry Birthwood Ring with Amethyst Inlay

Another ring  combination we offer that may be a good Valentine's day gift is our Saltstone Inlay Ring. You can combine this inlay with any type of wood you want! Head over to our custom orders page to get started making this ring.

View our Custom Ring Builder by clicking here!

Our "Sitting in a Tree" ring is another great idea for a gift. This style is completely customizable and it brings the whole family together with inlays of birthwoods for the parents and the stones inlays that represent the months of the children's birthdays.​ You can get this for a Mother or Father, or even a Grandmother or Grandfather.  If you and your significant other are expecting your first baby this year, it would be the perfect symbolization of your family together! Here is a video below showing the "Sitting in a Tree" style of ring. 

View our "Sitting in a Tree" Page here!

You can also always check out our In-Stock rings page if you want something sent to you immediately! We have lots of great rings just waiting to be given to a special person in your life. 

We hope this helps in your Eco-Friendly Valentine's Day endeavors! 

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Ideas For Customizing Your Ring

Custom orders are our favorite thing to make here at the shop. We love having a personal story to work with and innovative materials to use. This way, we are able to use your stories, traditions, and memories in a ring that you can wear and show off. Expanding our craft by using  new, creative materials is exciting for us and for the customer! It isn't every day you get to have the chance to make a completely customized ring with materials that are special to you. 

Sometimes it is difficult to figure out where exactly to start when making a custom wood ring. We allow customers to provide us with wood, materials for inlays, and stones. We also appreciate when customers send us sketches like the one pictured above! We have a custom ring builder tool on our website which you can find by clicking here.
 

Here is a list of materials we have used in the past:

  • Chili pepper seeds - A couple planted a chili pepper plant when they first started dating, and we used the chili pepper skin and seeds as an inlay in their rings.
  • Flower from first date - one customer dried and saved a flower from her first date and used the petals as an inlay in her ring and the stem as an inlay for her significant other.
  • Wood from a swing where a couple had their first kiss - we used this wood as a base for the couples' rings.
  • Snakeskin - A customer who has a pet snake sent us some of the skin that it shed to use as an inlay in a ring! 
  • Part of a barrel and vine from a vineyard - A customer who owns a vineyard provided us with the wood for the base and a vine to use as an inlay. 
  • Vintage rings from a family member capped in wood - Many customers have provided family heirloom rings to be capped with wood.
  • custom ring, wood ring, wedding ring, wooden ring, bent wood ring, wooden boxes,
  • Rocks and sand from where couples met
  • Wood from the 1700s passed down from a great uncle 
  • A baseball bat from a grandfather
  • ​Wood from an apple orchard in Wisconsin! 

If you are thinking of making a custom ring, think about the things you have that are special to you and contact us to see if we can use them! We love a challenge! 

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Size Matters

Ever wonder if size actually matters? When you are buying a ring for someone, it does!!

Wedding season is right around the corner, and if you are planning on getting wedding bands made or surprising someone with a proposal, you want to make sure the ring can actually be worn by that person, right? We have some tips for you so that your loved one can say "I do" and comfortably wear their ring at the same time.

Here is some of our favorite customers ring sizing stories.

  • Make up a story about a friend needing to figure out a ring size for their significant other and say you think yours has the same hand size.
  • One customer tried to use the "string test" while their partner was sleeping (the string test is not a preferred method). 
  • There are many customers who size a ring that their significant other already owns. If you're going to do this, be careful! Make sure the ring is a for their ring finger!
  • You can always ask a family member or friend to have them "try on" a ring. ("Hey, do you like this ring? Do you know your ring size? Oh mine is a 7, what's yours?")

Ring size is measured in millimeters based on the inner circumference of the band. The easiest way to get sized and make sure the size is accurate is to go to a professional jeweler. The jeweler will have a ring mandrel, which is a graduated metal wand with marks on it stating ring sizes.  If  you bring a jeweler a ring that your significant other wears on their ring finger, the jeweler can place it on the mandrel and get an accurate sizing. You can always purchase your own ring mandrel, but this is a more expensive option. 

There are also plastic ring sizers, which we sell here ! This is also one of the most accurate ways to size someone. 

​Another way is to use the string test. You just need a string (or even a strip of paper) and use it to wrap around the ring finger.
Then you can measure that length in millimeters and use the chart we have provided below to match the length up to the ring size.
Don't pull the string or paper too tight! You should be able to slide the string/paper off your finger without a struggle. 

If you can't get your significant other to a jeweler or need to be more secretive in general, we have ideas for that as well. If your significant other takes his or her ring off while they shower, you can grab the ring and place it on your finger and then make a mark on your finger where it falls. You can show a jeweler and have them size that part of your finger. You could also press the ring into a bar of soap and then measure the impression of the ring! Also don't forget, most mothers, sisters, or bestfriends can help by taking the person out and trying on rings together. 

In order to get the most accurate size, you should try to make sure your hands are room temperature! Hands shrink when cold and can swell in heat, which could result in an inaccurate sizing. Also, the wider the ring band, the tighter the ring will be. If you know you're going to purchase a 6mm or 8mm band, be sure to get sized with that width of a ring.Your ring should go on easy and come off hard. The worst thing imaginable is losing a ring because it is a little too big!! 

We're able to resize our wood rings 1/4 to 1/2 of a size. If the ring you order is off by more, we will need to remake the ring.
We hope this helps you in your ring sizing ventures! Remember you can always come into our shop to get sized.
We are located at 1500 South Western in Pilsen! Happy ring sizing!!

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Wood Ring Tales – Stefan and Linda

We love having a personal relationship with all our customers at Simply Wood Rings. We pride ourselves on making wood rings that are extremely meaningful for our customers, and seeing a happy customer is an experience that is irreplaceable. We do so many types of inlays and custom orders, that it is easy for a customer to make a really personal wood wedding ring that is close to their hearts. Recently we have been collecting customer stories to share with you, and here is the story of Linda and Stefan!

“Our relationship began in February 2010 while we were both attending college at the University of California at Santa Cruz, a campus surrounded by a lush redwood forest. Our mutual friend first introduced us to each other. We instantaneously gravitated towards each other and began to have many adventures together. From the beginning, our relationship was filled with conversations about our faith, family and dreams. Our friendship grew and was tested during several years of having a long-distance relationship. But, adversity has had a way of strengthening us and helping us grow more in love with each other.

Redwood has great significance for us, symbolizing where we met geographically and our strong foundation. We also really like the idea of the chunks of sea glass in our inlay. Sea glass is a thing of beauty despite battling years of struggle in the ocean. In the same way, our specific relationship has faced several years of struggle through a long-distance relationship. But, despite this, our love for one another remains (and will always remain) a thing of beauty throughout any times of hardship.

Lastly, including guitar strings on Stefan's wedding ring was a more personal touch since his passion is performing on the guitar and studying music. However, the two strings Stefan chose are the low and high 'E' strings of the guitar. These two notes are a perfect octave apart also commonly known as the "basic miracle of music". This is a unique relationship: "two and yet one". The sonic quality of the octave allows the projection of the infinity of tones into one octave space. So, then, the octave is considered a representation of the infinite.”

Linda and Stefan have a pair of wood wedding rings that were so fun for us to make and really unique. Hearing the reasons why they picked the wood and inlay that they did makes the ring just that much more special. The inlay they used also includes mother of pearl and sapphire, which we call here the "Stefan Stone Inlay". We know that their wood rings will definitely be a conversation piece whenever they go somewhere! We would like to thank Stefan and Linda for sharing their story with us, and stay tuned to our blog for more customer stories in the future!

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A Sweet Hero of a Ring

A Sweet Hero of a Ring

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.

Yowza!

Yes, we admit it. We are total and utter Romantic ring nerds. And we’re proud.

Want to be a ring nerd? Discover your magic in the shop!