Friday, August 26, 2005

A story of bountiful luck, grand coincidences, or divine interaction on an intimate level

One thing I always wanted to do when I got married was to create the engagement and wedding rings. I figure that since God gave me the gift of being able to sculpt, that this was a natural conclusion. The last time I got married I didn't have the time, money, or ability to do so. This time I just barely pulled it off, but only because of a series of fortunate events. You see, I've never made a real piece of jewelry before. I don't have the supplies and tools necessary, or the experience. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do for the engagement ring, and knew a few of the things my fiancé wanted. She likes white gold and solitary stones. I wanted a triangle-cut diamond since that represents something important to me. (It's a picture of man and wife at the bottom corners, and God at the top corner. As the husband and wife get closer to God, they become closer to one another as well.) But I know nothing about jewelry, diamonds, gold, etc. How does one go about buying a diamond, and making a gold ring, and putting them together? (On a limited budget!)

Well the first piece fell into place several months ago at an auction my church was having to raise money for a youth missions trip. I had donated one of my lionheart sculptures, and had bought a gecko for the boys. Then, just before the auction was closing, a friend of both Heather and I - who knew of our intentions to marry - grabbed me showed me something that no one had bid on and I hadn't even noticed. It was a big, beautiful, high-quality triangle diamond! So I bid the lowest price and won the thing for much less than it's worth.

So now I had part one. But how to make a ring? I was talking to my voluble masseuse about my predicament and she told me about a jewelry maker who's shop was literally right around the corner. She said he was an amazing artist and might be willing to help me. So I went and introduced myself and told him my plan to make an engagement ring. I showed him some of my sculpture so he could see that I am a professional; not some nut who just thinks he can sculpt. He told me that people go to school for years to learn how to do what I want to do… but, maybe he could help me. He told me the very basics of how one goes about making a cast gold ring. You start by sculpting it in wax, then you pour plaster around it, then pour the molten gold into the cast. This evaporates the wax and leaves the gold in the cavity left over, so you get an exact replica of the was mold. The plaster is broken open, the gold ring removed and polished, and the stone set. He gave me some wax to practice sculpting, and I told him I'd be back when I had something to show. My friend at work had a set of wax sculpting tools and he let me borrow them. The stuff I needed to work the wax was not too expensive at all, so I got started right away.

I made a sloppy, lop-sided, bumpy ring that looked like crap. So I brought it in a asked for more advice. The jeweler told me to come back on Saturday and he would show me some stuff. So I did. And I spend most of the day in the back of his shop figuring out how to melt, carve, and sculpt wax properly. At one point he said, "I don't know why the f*** I'm showing you all this. It took me years to learn all this stuff I'm just telling you for free!" He likes to tease me. I asked him if it was because of how romantic it all was. He said no, it couldn't be that. He had tried marriage once, and it's for the birds!

Anyway, I ended up coming back several more times, and spending countless hours whittling away at it in the middle of the night. I kept changing my design for it as I went and discovered what I could do, and what I couldn't. In the end I ended up with a very bold design with clean, hard lines and simple shapes. Finally it was ready to be cast. This part the jeweler did since he has all the expensive equipment and experience. Over the next couple of weeks he polished, added the tiny crosses I wanted, it at set the stone. I gave him a lionheart sculpture as thanks for all that he taught me.

During this period I had the idea of making a little book of reasons that I thought we should get married, and putting the ring at the end. Like all my personal art projects, the idea kept growing and growing, so I ended up spending more late nights working on the book than I did the ring. But I'm glad I did. It will be something that can always be looked back on. (In case we ever forget why we got married.)

So this story can be seen as a simple set of events that just happened to fall into place for me. A lucky diamond at an auction. A random conversation with a physical therapist. A strangely helpful yet reluctant jeweler who isn't quite sure why he's being so kind. But I see it as the hand of a God who truly loves us and wants to give us the desires of our heart.

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