Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wedding DIY- Make your own rings

We knew from the beginning that we really wanted to make our own rings. It is just such a beautiful symbolic gesture... using someone else's design just didn't seem right. Research into DIY ring-making turned up some very expensive options, such as working with a jewerly designer to have our drawings turned into rings, or attending a ring-making workshop for couples (and there weren't any in our area, anyway). I was briefly enamored with the process of making rings out of hammered wire and welding, but my sweetie brought up the fact that a welded ring disturbs the symbolism of the endless circle. Silver clay just seemed too "crafty." A local jeweler that we contacted mentioned a couple companies that she sends her own designs to for casting. Jewelers wax and wax carving tools were readily available online, so we decided to try our hand at carving rings.
These are some of my designs. I had become interested in Chinese symbolism, so the design features the dragon and phoenix, which represent the groom and the bride, as well as the lotus flower and five linked bats, which represent the five fortunes: good luck, prosperity, longevity, happiness, and wealth.
I purchased a couple different hardnesses of round tube wax from Contenti, as well as several tools...
We ended up using a Japanese fine toothed saw (which we had from other projects) to cut off pieces from the wax tube, and we used the largest drill bit we had to drill a starter hole. It isn't pictured here, but I also bought a Max ring sizer tool, which was useful for scraping wax from the inside of the hole. I bought a set of cheap wax carving tools and a couple wax files from Contenti, but we also used some small woodcarving tools and clay carving tools that we already owned.
My sweetie carved mine and I carved his! The smaller ring was more difficult... it was very thin, so there were a couple of casualties. Carving the wax was not difficult, but it was time consuming... we did it mostly in a marathon carving session that went on into the early morning.

Then we sent the rings off to RW Manufacturing in Rochester, NY via Fedex. It definitely felt like a leap of faith. We had them cast in silver. They also did all of the cleanup and polishing and oxidized them to bring out the carved detail. Their prices were very reasonable-- just a touch more than the market price cost of the metal, and a fraction of the cost of any of the readymade rings we were considering. And it was quick-- turnaround time was about a week, including shipping times. Doug at RW was wonderful, and very encouraging!
They came out beautifully! Here we are exchanging them at our ceremony.

The only small mistake we made was that we (wrongly) thought there would be shrinkage. It turns out that you can pretty much make your wax designs exactly the size you want the finished project to be. My sweetie's ring fits just right... mine is a little large. I wear it on my middle finger!

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