Making Wedding Bands

Last week, on August 24, we did it… Barry and I got married!I know that this will come to many as a surprise, as it did for us, but no worries, the big celebrations will take place next year, same date in Utica, NY.

I guess the saying ‘It never goes as planned’ is very true and it applies really well to our wedding ceremony and the making of our wedding bands.

A a jewellery maker, I am not allowed to make my own wedding rings. At least this is a very old and serious tradition in Germany. If you do it anyway, it is meant to be bad luck for your future marriage. Since I did not want to upset any marriage Gods, I knew for a long time that my good friend Christine Graf in Munich was going to be the one to make the rings for me. Barry had her make my engagement ring as well to my great surprise!

When Christine and I studied together in Birmingham in 2007, she wore this beautiful ring that she had forged from 24K gold. Previously, her aunt had given her some gold coins and she did not really know what to do with them, so she decided to turn them into something useful and make a ring for herself. She did not want to waste any of the material, so she did not cut or file it at all. Instead she forged it from a cast made of the coins. The traces of the hammer were still visible on the surface and gave it this really strong but very refined look. I liked the story of the making behind it and I knew then that this was going to be my wedding ring one day.

There is another very interesting detail one should keep in mind when choosing wedding bands. According to German tradition again, they need to be made from one piece. Bending and soldering the ring is not an option, since it will show a solder line, which is considered to be a sign for the marriage breaking one day. The ring needs to be made from continuous material, without a cut, so next to casting (the most popular option) the ring can be forged.

Originally, Barry and I had planned to get married in the autumn of 2013 but you know how it goes… ‘It never comes as planned’ and we had to hurry a little. Because of the shortness in time, Christine could not make the rings for us and my good friend Patrick McMillan from McMillan Metals in Providence offered to make them when I came to visit him for his birthday in early August. I am still thrilled and very thankful for his offer and generosity to do this for us. In return I promised to make his wedding rings one day, which makes me feel very honored and proud!

When Patrick and I talked about how to make the rings, we decided to make them from fine silver instead of 24K gold. Barry and my initial idea was to collect gold from the families and have it melt into the rings, so that there is the family and some meaning in the rings themselves. When I sat in Patrick’s studio, Barry and I had not even started to collect, so there was nothing to make the rings from.

Now, I think it was perfect sitting in Patrick’s studio not knowing what material to use, since Barry and I decided that we will have two sets of rings: The silver ones from our formal wedding ceremony and the golden ones, made by Christine, for the Big Wedding Bash next year with all our friends and family.

So, here are some pictures showing the process of the making. I hope you’ll enjoy them.

Cuttlefish Casting.

The burned cuttlefish shell.

Super excited!!!!

The cast silver ‘bobbles’.

Patrick punching a hole.

Small hole.

Stretching the hole.

Medium hole.

Stretching the ring on a ring mandrel.

Bigger mandrel.

Big hole.

Final touch.

The finished rings.

We are married! 🙂

PS: Here is a picture of my beautiful engagement ring that Christine made for me from platinum, copper mesh and enamel.

Thank you for reading.
Please have a look at my websites www.lisa-juen.com and www.proonk.com.
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‘Dating Medal’ for ‘Con Decorados’

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to make a piece for an exhibition in Valencia, Spain called ‘Con-Decorados’. The exhibition will be part of a row of shows accompanying the second opening of the ‘Schmuck‘ show from Munich in Valencia. It will be held at the ‘Museo Nacional de Ceramica y de las Artes Suntuarias Gonzalez Marti‘, as part of the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Jewellery Department at the ‘Escola d’Art i Superior de Disseny de València’ EASD. To mark this anniversary, the school has organised a programme of activities, exhibitions and talks on contemporary jewellery and called the event  ‘MELTING POINT 2012’. ‘Con-Decorados’ will open on the 5th of May at 6pm. To visit the blog accompanying the activities, click here.

The topic of ‘Con-Decorados’ turns around the subject of medals. 23 artists were asked to work with and around the idea of interpreting and creating a medal.

The artists who will participate in this exhibition are:

Peter Bauhuis
Mirei Takeuchi
Sung-Ho Cho
Volker Atrops
Jorge Manilla
Christine Graf
Lisa Juen
Alexander Friedrich
Tabea Reulecke
Rodrigo Acosta
Marie Pendaries
Carlos Pastor
Kepa Karmona
Sarah O´Hana
Kerstin Östberg
Elvira H.Mateu
Edu Tarín
Ramón Puig
Silvia Walz
Grego Garcia
Mauricio Lavayén
Gemma Draper
Mariona Piris
My idea for my medal came from personal experience. I wanted to create a medal that is a witness of our time, a medal that can be worn and used for a purpose of today.
Until I met my partner, I was a single woman in Shanghai for a very long time and I had to learn the hard way that dating can be really hard work that should be awarded a medal! So… here it is, the ‘Dating Medal’.
…and a short explanation:

Modern society does not make it easy to meet one’s ‘better half’. The Internet, Hollywood and the fast pace of a steadily growing throw-away-culture heightens the bars of expectation when it comes to choosing the right partner.

How can one meet this person without having to bend over backwards?

Dating in the mentioned conditions can be really hard work, especially for girls. The ‘Dating Medal’ is to be a helping device for women dating but is also act as a dating award.

The brooch holds two LED screens: one in green and one in red.

The screens are connected to an ON/ON switch, which enables the wearer to decide which of the two screens is going to light up.

In the case of the lady meeting an individual of interest, the green screen can be lit reading:

 ‘Did the sun come out or did you just smile at me?’ 

The sentence can act as an ‘ice-breaker’ leading into a conversation. In the case of the initial chat being a success, the gentleman can take the lady’s contact details written on small paper-strips hanging from the series of brooch-hooks. If he would like to leave his details, he can choose to take one of the plain paper-strips and write down his contact information with the attached pencil. By hanging the written strip back on the hook ‘rewards’ the girl with the possibility of a future date.

In the case of the lady not feeling attracted to an approaching individual, the red screen can be lit reading:

 ‘Save your breath.’

In this case, a lot of drama and heartbreak can be prevented right from the start.

Not just my dating experience was a little rocky but the way of making the brooch was pretty painful too. Just when I was about to finish the brooch, a piece of the bearing broke off. Since the metal part is entirely cut and bent from one piece of stainless steel sheet, I had to remake the entire brooch.

Here are some pictures I took along the way that show the process of making.

Polishing. Even after almost 10 years of making professional jewellery, the contrast of dirty hands and shiny metal still amazes me! It feels great looking like a pig but holding this precious little something in one’s hands!

Before bending.

Wiring.

I hope you like the ‘Dating Medal’ and the journey of its making. If you should be in Valencia around the 5th of May, please feel free to join the exhibition opening. The show will be on until the end of June.

If you can find a chance to go, please take a picture of the piece and send it to me! I would love to see it on display! Enjoy the show!