Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sacred Red Cedar, White Pine and Juniper wood rings for Katie and Ian

Katie and I began our conversation in November last year shortly after she and Ian were engaged. She told us that they always try to support local businesses and people who are living and working sustainably. We're so happy they chose to work with us. What an awesome couple!

Katie and Ian gathered branch wood with special meaning to them; Western Red Cedar from the Vancouver Island, and White Pine and Juniper root from Georgian Bay in Ontario.

I know I've said this before but it's a little like being a kid on Christmas morning when David makes the first cuts into a special branch and we get a glimpse at the figure and colours of the wood.
Always, with respect and gratitude to the trees whose branches were shared.  
David made suggestions on which woods would be most beautiful and most durable for their rings. They decided on the Juniper root for the primary wood, the Georgian Bay White Pine for the liners and inlays of their Western Red Cedar.

They were married in September and recently sent us some pics of their celebration :) and this lovely email.

"Here's what we said about the rings during our ceremony. We wanted to highlight their symbolism in our vows, and we also had them passed around among our guests in a "ring warming" ceremony so everyone could place a wish on the rings for us before we put them on. 

The white pine and juniper root symbolize our deep roots in Ontario and our love for our families and friends who live there and for the people and landscape that made us who we are.
The western red cedar symbolizes our choice to continue building our life together on the west coast, our friendships made here and our mutual love of adventure in the mountains.

The juniper root reminds us how relationships can sometimes be prickly, but are also resilient.

The white pine, which leans away from the west because of the wind, reminds us to stand tall and proud, and also that sometimes you need to bend and compromise to be successful in your environment.

The western red cedar reminds us to always keep growing and to have a long life of providing for and nurturing those around us.

We're absolutely loving them! Thanks again! I hope the photos and our words help show our appreciation for all of the hard work you both put into making our rings so special. :)
All the best, Katie and Ian"

~ Wedding photos by @braceyphoto ~

Our congratulations and our thanks to Katie and Ian. 
With dearest love ~ as ever.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Franciscan Tau Cross Wood Ring

We had the pleasure and honour recently of working with Christine on a very special commission. 

We've had wonderful conversations over the course of working together and we shared a lot with each other. 
Christine is getting ready to enter a Franciscan Third Order 
of Seculars. 
She wanted a wooden ring with the Tau Cross ~ as a gift to herself and the last before she takes her vows (one of which is poverty).

David created Christine's Tau ring of Purpleheart wood with inlays of Hawaiian Koa and Cherry. 

It was designed after Christine's only other adornment; her Tau necklace. It's a wooden cross on a cord, with three simple beads signifying her vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

"I just love the ring! And love you and David. Thank you soooooooo much! 
Wasn't it Michelangelo who said he just chipped away around the image? The end result spoke to him, and he listened! I would imagine David "becomes one " with the wood and design.
Nicola, it's odd how intimate this process has been - I bet you hear that a lot! It didn't feel like a business transaction let alone an internet business transaction!

"Love your pictures and your writing, Nicola - and your attention to detail re: marketing, operations, logistics, and hand holding; you are sort of a midwife in the birthing process of creating the rings!! You wear so many hats, so well!"

Thank you so much Christine. It's been a real pleasure working with you and getting to know you. 

Joy and Peace be with you ~ and much love from both of us as you take your vows and enter your Franciscan Order.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Touch Wood Rings, Pear and Inner Peace

Touch Wood Rings for Kait and Josh ~ Pear and Hawaiian Koa

 The symbolism associated with pear trees speaks of prosperity, longevity and inner peace.
Fellow Canadians Kait and Josh first contacted us in March. 
They wanted to use pear wood from a tree that has significance to them and were hoping to incorporate the heartwood and the sapwood in their designs.
David and I often say that cutting a branch of wood makes us feel like kids on Christmas morning. It is always a gift to discover the wood inside a branch and this pear wood was a delightful surprise. The heartwood of Josh and Kait's pear branch was beautiful and the sapwood had real character too. Perfect for their designs.
They chose a rich Hawaiian Koa as the primary wood for their rings with spiraled inlays of their pear heartwood and sapwood and interior liners of the lighter pear sapwood to accommodate their inscriptions.  
When we sent final photographs of their rings, Kait wrote: "We are just blown away! The rings are so beautiful! The pear wood looks great with the koa!! I can't believe we have to wait until our wedding in October to wear them!"

It's August now :) so not too much longer to wait ...
We look forward to some photos from your wedding and we hope you have an exciting and happy few months leading up to your Fall celebration.  Remember to breathe!

Much love, as always
Nicola and David

Sunday, July 16, 2017

'Touch Wood' is an apropos business name right now

Dear Touch Wood friends and followers,

I want to update you on our wildfire situation here in the Cariboo and throughout the BC interior. We have been getting emails from our Touch Wood friends asking if we are safe and we thank you all so much for your concern!! You are like family to us and this month has been a challenging one so far.

We are working with a few lovely people this month on new commissions but are keeping our workshop and office work to a minimum while we prepare for what might be a life changing event.

Saturday afternoon. Smoke from the Hanceville fire to our south west...

The city of Williams Lake and some surrounding communities are fully evacuated as of Saturday afternoon and we are so sorry for all our friends and neighbours who have had to leave their homes to uncertainty and fear. Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone affected; the evacuees, the firefighters, the people who have already lost homes and livelihoods, not to mention the devastation to the land, the birds and the wildlife.

We've been on evacuation order out here for a full week now but have chosen to stay because we have a very good likelihood of being able to protect our home, our property and our business. And it's not our first rodeo. We didn't evacuate during the 2010 wildfires either and those fires came as close as two km.

'Safety first' has always been our motto!! I think we're in better shape off grid than most people in neighbouring communities; where power is off and services have ground to a halt. We have our own solar power system, backup generator and fuel, satellite internet, good well water, and a cold room fairly well stocked with supplies. We have propane for hot meals until we can use our wood stove again :) A good size creek runs through our place which is a real blessing. And while this is a scary situation, wildfires kind of come with the territory. We will stay till we can’t and we are optimistic we can weather this storm.

Sunday early evening July 16th

For all three of us and the wee pup, the stress is a challenge. It's a good test of our sense of humour, our patience and gentleness with each other ~ our ability to think clearly and to prioritize. We have done and are doing everything we can to preserve this beautiful little corner of the Chilcotin. After a week of a crazy amount of work we are feeling quite safe. There are still things we are doing to make ourselves safer but for the most part it's back to normal for us now ... aside from being prepared to run if need be. We're keeping the hummingbird feeders filled (at least until the sugar runs out), staying vigilant, knowing our escape routes and counting our blessings.

You are welcome to follow our public posts on my personal Facebook page. David has been doing an awesome job of recording and sharing our fire protection efforts at the end of each day. https://www.facebook.com/nkwala.jean

And as always, thanks for dropping by! Our love to you and your families! Stay safe and take care of each other. We'll do the same.

Touch Wood :) 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Sharing some Love ~ from Meghan and Mary

Dear David and Nicola,

I wanted to write to you to thank you sincerely for creating such an extraordinary gift of love for Mary and I. Your Touch Wood Ring is unlike anything I've ever seen before. 

It fits perfectly and glistens beautifully in the sunlight. The stone and the Purple Heart Wood inlays are incredible. People love to linger over every impressive detail that you have carefully carved into the ring.

Mary proposed in a very memorable way and the ring is just stunning. We are both very happily engaged, and we have you to thank for giving us the token to remember that by. 

We hope you are enjoying the month of June and we hope to meet you someday.  

Thanks again for all the love and care you put into the making and the process of communicating about this ring. We will always remember this.

Thank you Meghan 💕 It was our absolute pleasure and honour to work with Mary on your ring. 
Mary put so much love and thought and care into it's design ~ and David thoroughly enjoyed creating it for both of you!  We send our dearest love ~ now and always ~ and wish you and Mary immeasurable joy in the days and years to come.  Congratulations and warm hugs from both of us to both of you.  

Friday, May 05, 2017

A short history of steam bent wood rings

Touch Wood Rings
Touch Wood Rings are steam bent wooden rings. While steam bending wood is an ancient art, David is the originator and pioneer of the steam bent method of building a wooden ring.

A wooden ring is hardly an oddity anymore. There aren't many people nowadays who haven't heard of or seen a wooden ring and lots of people wear them. When I first introduced David's bent wood rings online in 2003, a wooden ring was considered a bit of a joke.

That was then.

David and I are humbled and honoured to have started "a revolution in the jewelry industry", as a very early client of ours predicted.

There was only one other wood ring maker when I introduced David's work online. Dale Randles of Artistree Wood Art has offered his wood crafts online since 1998. The main difference is that Dale's rings were (and still are) carved wooden rings; not bentwood. 

Every other bent wood ring maker you find online now (and there are hundreds) came after David. We trained and mentored some of them and we've watched a whole industry grow up behind us. It's been pretty incredible really. Humbling.  

A Touch Wood Ring as a Work in Progress

Natural materials have been carved into objects of personal adornment ever since humans began adorning ourselves. Materials like shell, bone and stone have of course survived the ravages of time better than tiny carved wooden objects.

One carved wooden ring that has survived is in The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. They have in their collections a 'carved' Bog Oak Wood Ring from Ireland dating from about 1775. The museum doesn't have a picture of the ring online but here is a photo of a set of Irish Bog Oak Rings David made for couple a few years ago. The light wood in this set is Australian Huon Pine.

Irish Bog Oak Wood Rings with Huon Pine inlay and liners

Through my research, I've found references to a wooden finger ring (recovered) from an Egyptian mummy, and carved wood rings found on the battlefields of WW1 and WW2; sad reminders of too many young men who loved someone back home and quite likely lost their lives; leaving their little mementos of love to molder in the trenches.

Apple Wood Ring with Braided Birch Bark inlay

Finnish folklore of long ago offers a song about a young fellow making a birch bark ring for his beloved after he drank away all his money. This song was sent to us by one of our early clients who wanted a birch and birch bark ring for his Finnish girlfriend. Here is a rough translation of that song:
Heisuli hei, my song sings, I am a trouble free vagabond rascal! This boy drank his last coins, one cannot live rich. I made a golden ring out of birch bark, I will engage a girl for myself. This birch bark ring and my love lasts one night at a time. 

So, what is steam bending exactly?

"Bending wood dates back to antiquity in the form of baskets from willow branches. Fresh growth willow twigs are readily bent in practically any shape.

When wood has been separated from the tree and dried, it is more rigid, difficult to bend and breakable. Bending drier wood with the help of heat and water is centuries old. Fishing hooks, barrel staves, and planks turned into boat hulls are examples." Source

"There are three basic ways of softening wood fibers. The first is to heat moisture already in the wood. This means using already moist, green wood, or soaking dry wood to replace the necessary moisture, then using a fire, or other heat source to turn the water to steam. The second method is to create steam first, and then force the steam into the wood. The final method is to use boiling water to penetrate the wood fibers." Source

If you are interested in learning more about bending wood, Steven Edholm has an excellent blog post titled: Bending Wood: What you need to know.

Touch Wood Oak Rings featuring the natural figure and grain of the Oak wood.

And so it goes. 
Wooden rings would not be a reality if people like you didn't find them beautiful and have a desire to wear one on your finger. And we thank you!

Touch Wood Rings has always been just the two of us. David is the artist and craftsman and I (Nicola) do the other stuff. Talking with you is what I love most about my work.

We live remote and off grid on 48 acres in the Cariboo Chilcotin area of BC. Our nearest neighbour is 10 miles away and town is a 45 minute drive on a good day ~ over active logging roads. David's brother has a cabin here as well. Our 48 acres is precious to all three of us. We consider ourselves stewards of this little corner of the planet and we take that very seriously.

We live a good life. A quiet life. The real difference I find about living remote is that our lives are mostly uninterrupted. This uninterrupted time allows us to focus on the natural world around us and to focus on you and fulfill your desire for a hand crafted Touch Wood Ring. 

We are truly blessed. And ever thankful.
And we invite you to be in touch.
Please drop me a line at nicola@touchwoodrings.com ~ I'd love to hear from you.
Visit our website (currently being updated, thank goodness)
And join us on social media is you like  Instagram,  TwitterFacebook and Pinterest

In closing, here are some snapshots from around our off grid homestead.
As always, thanks so much for dropping by!

The little log cabin that overlooks the creek

Wildflowers in July

Our place from overhead ~ the creek and hayfields

Nick and Kali on walkabout

On our walking trails, looking over at the homestead

Dandelion delight and solar panels

Mom and the young Mister with a cowbird along for the ride

Sunday, April 30, 2017

My Myrtle Moment

Some of the woods David works with I just fall in love with. Oregon Myrtle is one of those woods. 
vintage illustration of Myrtle

Here are a few examples of Touch Wood Rings incorporating Oregon Myrtle. The horizontal inlay on this juniper heartwood ring is Myrtle. The inlay is a 'full moon' ™  mother of pearl.

The interior liner on this Grenadilla / African Blackwood ring is Myrtle and it's also one of the spiraled inlays.
The single spiraled inlay on this juniper heartwood ring is Myrtle.
Brent and Sarah's Black Walnut rings have inlays of Myrtle wood. Sarah's ring also has a crushed shell inlay.  I'm partial to the wider myrtle inlay on Brent's ring as it lets us see the beautiful cross hatched grain that David coaxed out of the wood.
"These rings are simply amazing! We were just floored by how simple, clean and comfortable they were. They fit perfectly; like an old friend. My (Brent's) ring fits so well with (the unusual shape of my hand), I loved the way David didn't just taper it, but just made a space for my finger. It looks great and feels better. Sarah's looks amazing with her shell and she said its a perfect fit. Both of the rings go on quite easily but fit snug once they are on so there is no danger of them slipping off. Thank you for your amazing work and the love you put into it. We are so happy that we could share this experience with you. Brent and Sarah"

Myrtle has also been called pepperwood, spicebush, cinnamon bush, peppernut tree, headache tree, mountain laurel, and balm of heaven. 

Myrtle grows very slowly. The slow growth produces a close grained and fine textured wood. Oregon Myrtlewood offers a wide variety of beautiful colors and grain patterns.
As with most trees; the color of the wood is often influenced by the minerals in the soil. The colors of Oregon Myrtle range from blond to black with many shades of honey, browns, satiny grays, with reds and greens in between. 

The myrtle plant has long been a symbol of love and an emblem for marriage. It is also believed to be the flower of the gods, being sacred to the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

Myrtle wood is often used as a wedding garland or decorations for the marriage ceremony, and utilized in many wedding rituals.
The myrtle also symbolizes good fortune. It is believed that cultivating a myrtle plant will usher in peace and love to your home. Myrtle is considered a representation for long life, as well as joyful living.

Thanks to the Myrtlewood Gallery and Aunty Flo's website.  And as always, thanks to the awesome people we work with who wear a Touch Wood Ring.  

Saturday, April 22, 2017

This Earth Day, We Thank You.

On this Earth Day, we'd like to send a huge thank you to all our Touch Wood clients. People who are making a positive difference in the world. And they are legion.

Chas and Jenna commissioned their rings in the summer of 2013. They sent David two woods from remote Mfangano Island in Western Kenya. Both woods were bits of old fence posts. The two woods are "Kang'o" which Chas believed to be a wild olive (the long lighter piece) and "sangala" which he understood was a species of Sumac. (short reddish piece).

They designed their rings incorporating their two woods and our heritage black walnut.

Chas and Jenna are part of an awesome group of people called Organic Health Response. The organization, founded by Chas, describe their mission as "supporting an ecosystem of diverse community health initiatives on Mfangano Island, Lake Victoria, Kenya." Jenna was a WWOOFer (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) at Joel and Richard’s farm on Mfangano for six months and now serves on the board of directors of OHR.
We invite you to visit the OHR website, like their facebook page and please, get involved!

Kat and Scott's Touch Wood Wedding Rings incorporated a very special piece of wood that was connected to a beloved rescued elephant who lived out the remainder of her life at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee of which Scott was co-founder. Kat and Scott have dedicated their lives to the care and comfort of elephants.

This couple spearheaded the awesome organization called Global Sanctuary for Elephants. Please visit their site, follow them on Facebook and support their amazing work with Elephants any way you can. There's an online auction coming up on Bidding for Good, June 5th to 13th. 

Elephant Sanctuary Brazil

And, if you are looking for earth friendly rings that offer a kinder gentler way to proclaim your love ~ please be in touch. David and I would love to hear from you!

Thanks again to all our incredible Touch Wood friends ~ you never cease to inspire us.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The dairy cow shelter built by Jenny Barlow

If you've been with us through a season or two, you've likely seen a few photos of this little log cabin. It's one of my favourite scenes to photograph; covered in snow or surrounded by willows and wild roses.
Yesterday, a friend asked me for the story behind the cabin so I thought I'd share it here as well.   The couple we bought these 48 acres from called it "Jeannie Meadow."

This wee cabin of hand hewn logs was built by Jenny Warde; a Cariboo pioneer. She ranched and trapped on this property and built the shelter (I think in the 40`s) to house her dairy cow and her chickens on cold nights. The building had no roof when David and I arrived and was almost crumbled beyond recognition. We took it upon ourselves to save this last remnant of pioneer history. We carefully numbered and dismantled the logs, chose a place of distinction at the entrance to our place, put the shelter back together and created a new roof with handmade shakes.

Jenny was born at Meldrum Creek about 1909. In 1981, the local Tribune newspaper interviewed Jenny and wrote a lengthy article about her life. As Jenny tells it, she always loved to be `way back in the woods`.   She was 7 when she started trapping with her older brothers. Until she was 16, she attended school during the days and tended the trap lines after school. She had 10 siblings, quit school after grade 8 and went to work to help support the family. Jenny married Doug Barlow when she was 23. They had 3 sons; Norman, Dean and Bud (Bud and his wife Jeannie are our closest neighbours and good friends). Doug Barlow died alone of a heart attack when he was out on their trap line. Jenny says it took them 8 days to find him.

Jenny worked with Eric Collier as a hunting guide for a few years. He`s the fellow who wrote Three Against the Wilderness. Collier used to say of Warde that she was `108 pounds of dynamite, and could shoot the eye out of a squirrel at 150 paces.
Jenny is legend in this neck of the woods.
We are humbled and honoured to have this little cabin in memory of her pioneering spirit and as a tribute to the work of her hands.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Right-handed wooden wedding rings

Almost a year ago, we had the pleasure of working with Tina and Ben from Denmark. 
They were really fun to work with and we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them a little. They commissioned their wedding rings of a deep rich Hawaiian Koa with inlays of Eucalyptus and crushed shell.

A couple of weeks ago, we got this email from Ben with some really pretty pics of their rings resting on Tina's bouquet, and on their wedded hands.
Ben's last paragraph had me in stitches.

"Hope all is well you up your end of the literal woods!
I've been meaning to drop you a line for a while - after we got married in August last year time has just flown on relentlessly, but here you are, some photos of your workmanship in action. I take it from your website, that you have an abundant source of pictures of rings, but I thought just in case you didn't have any of rings shipped to Denmark, exchanged in Copenhagen town hall and photographed in provincial Germany in my folk's garden (our family wedding gig)...;-)

We love our rings. The only challenge arises that we've chosen to go the Scandinavian route of wearing them on the right hand (that's the traditional way around here and at least 50% of people I observe do this) In my job I meet my fair share of ham-fisted engineering dudes who at least half the time are also right-hand-weaponised, and boy...do they manage to scrunch my science-lab-boy paws when there is double lording of the rings...But apart from hand-shaking with the Viking descendants all is very well :-)
All the best from us two to you two, hope bush and business is treating you well,

Ben and Tina

 Our love and very best wishes to you two too Tina and Ben.  
And thank you!! 😊

So what do we know about the placement of the wedding ring? 
The established North American wedding industry typically has the wedding ring on the fourth finger of our left hand.  In this vein, the engagement ring is worn 'down the aisle' on the right hand and transferred to the the left hand after the wedding ring is on your finger. 
It's a humbling thing when that symbol of love is a Touch Wood Ring.

If you google the 'right hand / left hand' question you'll come up with a great many articles touting theories and 'centuries old beliefs' for why a wedding ring is 'traditionally' worn on the left hand, fourth finger. 
In some European countries as Ben points out, wearing your wedding ring on your right hand is the norm. 
There's a 2010 blog post from 25karats that gives us a "new millennium guide" to western meanings of a right handed wedding ring. 
Interesting article but ~omg~ I'd have to carry a cheat sheet in my wallet and ask a bunch of really personal questions. It's probably best just to do whatever makes you and your beloved happy!