written by Meris Mullaley (@merismullaley)
Greg and I were introduced in 2009 by a lifelong mutual family friend. This matchmaking was, among other things, based on our shared love for fandoms like Battlestar Galactica, Lost, and Star Wars. As my best friend handed me a photograph of Greg and his email address, her exact words were: “This is not a set-up, but it is kinda a set-up.”
We lived in different states, so our first interactions occurred through emails, Facebook chats, and phone calls. Almost five years later, we made a mutual decision to spend the rest of our lives together. We opted for a simple, private ceremony and a laid back reception.
We were apprehensive about the process of choosing and buying wedding bands— neither of us can be called “jewelry people.” Then we learned about a Seattle business called With These Rings, which offers couples the experience of making their wedding rings together. As cosplayers and DIY-ers we place high value in the story of an object’s creation. We were both genuinely excited about designing and forging wedding bands that reflected us and our values.
Soon after discovering With These Rings, we learned the owner was holding a Valentine’s Day contest. A dozen couples wrote in, telling their story and explaining why they wanted to make their own wedding rings. Ultimately the couple with the most votes would win. For our entry, we selected this picture of our Bioshock:Infinite cosplay from PAX Prime 2013.
The process of creating costumes and cosplaying together at conventions embodies many of the things at the core of our relationship. The costumes are projects we work on together. We spend hours discussing our next characters and geeking-out about the franchises they belong to. I design and sew the fabric components, then Greg creates or finds the physical props. The whole process and the time on the convention floor is one annual experience we share.
With the help of our friends, family, and a few members of the wider geek & gamer community, we won!
Greg and I visited With These Rings in April and May to create our wedding bands. We worked with owner Stephanie Selle to determine our design motif, metal preference, and sizes.
Palladium was our metal of choice. A cousin of platinum, this hard metal cannot be hammered into shape (like silver and gold rings), so our ring-making process involves lost-wax molds. Our designs are carved in wax and then these wax rings will be used to make plaster molds into which palladium will be poured to cast the rings.
Taking advantage of Pinterest, I collected a number of ring images for inspiration. In the end, we opted for a design inspired by dragon scales with an interior engraving to reflect our love of D&D, RPGs, and epic fantasy.
Over a 5-hour work session Stephanie walked us through the process of resizing and shaping our wax rings. Greg and I do have tool and crafting experience, but even if you aren’t as comfortable with carving tools Stephanie takes the time to walk you through each step and offers as much or as little support as you prefer.
Greg enlarged his ring by filing away the interior of the wax blank, while I reduced my ring size by filling down the outside and then cutting out a small section and fusing the ring back together.
While I meticulously filed down my wax blank to be the size 4 ring I needed, Greg and Stephanie started playing around with different patterns and carving tools, trying to achieve a dragon scale. They of course used dummy-pieces of wax, not the rings we had just resized.
We settled on a single row of overlapping dragon scales, made using a flat file (with a slight bevel) to carve the lower (pointed & curved) end of the scale.
During the resizing phase of the session we were chatty. As soon as Greg and I began carving into the final wax rings the workshop went silent. We were both so focused on not messing up. (Thankfully if you do crack the ring or file away too much, more wax can be added and melted into place.)
Our wax dragon-scale rings had been sent away for casting in palladium. We returned a few weeks after the initial ring carving session to finish the rings (sanding and polishing the metal). Many file marks had transferred from the wax to the mold so those needed to be sanded out. The casting process also left a rough sprue on the inside of the ring.
Making our rings together really highlighted some of our personality traits. Greg moved much faster through the sprue-filing portion of the evening. I thought I was moving at a respectable speed, but every time Stephanie took a look at my sprue, her kinds words were, “Just a bit more.” I was worried I would file away too much and the ring would get too big.
We used incrementally-finer sandpapers to remove our scratch and file marks. There were many things I had not noticed about the wax ring, but when the metal is cast every tiny nick or scratch glares at you. The goal was to make our rings as smooth as possible before polishing them on the Machine of Terror.
After three hours our session was nearing its end. The file marks had been mostly smoothed out and we accepted the remaining scratches as “makers marks”. Stephanie turned on the polishing machine. The brush is coated with some kind of polishing oil or solution. We pressed the rings firmly against the high-speed spinning brushes—keep hair and apron ties away!—and watched as the rings became increasingly shiny. I was very hesitant around this machine and that resulted in a ring that was only partially polished. The brushes couldn’t get into the edges of the dragon scales, so Stephanie kindly took over for me.
Greg gave his ring a brushed look with steel wool. I opted for a high-polish ring to match the shine of my engagement ring. Our rings stayed over the weekend with Stephanie and she laser-engraved “Never Adventure Alone” on the inside. Impatience got the best of us once or twice while we waited for the day we could finally wear our rings. We may have done a few “test wears” around the house to make sure the rings “fit.”
This was such a wonderful experience that I never knew I wanted until I heard about it. Stephanie told us that many of her clients have shared that sentiment. Most people don’t realize they want to make their own rings because making wedding bands is not a widely circulated option. If you live in the Seattle area and think this might be your kind of wedding ring, I heartily encourage you to visit the With These Rings website and blog.
We would like to thank all of our family, friends, and fellow geeks and cosplayers who helped us win this amazing opportunity. We will think of you when we look at our rings. Thank you for the support you have given to us and our relationship.
Meris is a LFTDFriend and an avid cosplayer. LG's PRINCE and RIRI participated on a panel with her and two other amazing geeks. Make sure to check out her main blog and visit the original posts below.
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