One of my dear friends asked me to make something to be a part of her wedding. She told me she and her fiancé were planning a ring blessing ceremony. I had recently started stamping words and sayings onto silver items and the bride thought perhaps I could add my touch to a vessel of some sort to hold their wedding rings as they were passed around for their family and friends to bless. I thought it was a lovely and meaningful idea and I was honored to play a part in it.
To find the pieces I stamp on, usually spoons and forks and such, I go to a lot of antique and estate sales so I immediately started looking for a bowl that could work for the ring blessing. I also asked my antique friends (just to be clear I don’t mean my really old friends, just my friends who also like to shop for antiques ;-) to keep an eye out as well. So several weeks later I had accumulated six different bowls for my friend to choose from. I sent them a picture of the group and they choose the one they liked best.
Now is where I tell you the bowl’s story. Out of the six items I had to offer, only one of them was not found by me. Another dear friend of mine had picked one up for me knowing I was on this hunt. It is a piece that I probably would have passed up had I been at the sale that day. Not because it wasn’t pretty but more because it was too pretty. It must have been tucked away in a closet or drawer and for whatever reason, was never used. I know this because while time had tarnished the piece, there was not one single scratch or dent or nick or fingerprint to be found on it. It was in pristine condition. And that always makes me a little sad to see on an antique. I think that’s why I favor items that are beat up. I just love pieces that have spent a lifetime getting aged and worn and chipped and dinged and smooth and rough all over with each passing year because that patina is a sign that it was used and loved and a full life was had by the people who owned it. Beat up household items make me happy because they remind me that we only live once. We have to remember to live every day to the fullest because each day is a special occasion; each minute, every breath is a gift. In fact, if this couple gets nothing else from my ramblings here, above all I hope they remember to use the good china—or in this case, the good silver for Pete’s sake!
Well, enough about the old things I’m passionate about, but you can see why I would have overlooked this particular bowl. Nonetheless, it was chosen a second time by a dear friend of mine, so we moved forward with its transformation. The bride and groom decided on the wording and I tentatively began the process. I say tentatively because this was my first bowl. I have done many spoons, and many butter knives, and quite a few forks and even some trays. And in doing all those things I have learned that each and every single piece I do reacts differently to each strike of the hammer. And even some letters react differently on each piece. The letter ‘I’ for example seems to slip right into the metal whereas a more complicated letter like ‘M’ takes a little more oomph to make a good impression. And while I’m stamping away and noticing these variations, I can’t help but be reminded of the way we as people bump against each other and leave our varying marks and words on one another; some impressions are deep and lasting, some barely there; some slip and make a double impression; and some are accidentally made upside-down—thankfully not on this project, but it has been known to happen on occasion. All those impressions bend us and shape us and make us unique; they give us character and interest and all the marks, the good and the bad, even the upside-down, come together to spell out the phrase of who we are.
Another thing I have realized while stamping is that slips or misses or uneven spacing or crooked letters happen. I find that striving for perfection, hoping all the letters will match up just so, usually means they do just the opposite. Life is like that too. When you try to make it perfect you’re destined to fail but you can choose to embrace the imperfections and find beauty and joy in them. I am grateful for the reminder of that in my craft and have come to love that aspect of it.
So as I continued adding letters to this bowl I was thinking about all of this and my dear friend and friend to be as I went. Never having done a quote this long made it hard to judge where to start the words and where to end, but I knew if I embraced the imperfections, it would come out okay in the end. So I hoped for the best and admired the mistakes and kept going even when things got bumpy. And most of it came out great but the biggest imperfection just so happens to be right smack dab in the middle of the word ‘marriage’—which you just have to love on a bowl made for a new marriage. At some point in every marriage, things are going to get bumpy and you may not always know where to start your words or where to end them but as long as you keep working and keep communicating and embracing the imperfections, it really will all be okay.
So as you can see, I have found the stamping process to be really symbolic and meaningful, particularly on this little ring blessing vessel. My hope is that my friends will see all of this in their little bowl and appreciate how it’s still pretty shiny and new like their union, but it does have some marks on it now, some character and interest, some imperfections too.
So with that all said, I pass this little treasure along to the family to have their turn with it. I hope they enjoy using it at their ring blessing ceremony and many times thereafter. See, it would be tragic if they choose to tuck it away for safekeeping after their wedding, for this bowl with the words they chose…
… is meant to be used on special occasions and on ‘regular’ days too. In fact, my hope is that their bowl gets thoroughly tarnished by many years and worn right down to a nub as together they add dings and nicks and scratches and charm and life to it. Whether it holds conversation hearts on Valentine’s Day, nuts on a random Friday or a candle in the dark, it will mean that in their marriage they are embracing imperfections, communicating no matter what and living a very full life. And it just doesn't get any better than that.