Some people lose things and are quickly able to accept the fact that the item has vanished from their life. Ivaan was not one of those people. When he lost something, he tortured himself about it. And he wasn't one to suffer in silence, so there was usually plenty of torture left over for me and for anyone else who would listen. The average person would recognize that their uncanny ability to lose track of things was hindering their progress in life and develop a system for not losing things as often. Nothing about Ivaan was average, however, and this tendency of his was one of the many quirks that I would just have to accept, because trying to change Ivaan would be like trying to change the weather.
In 2003, when we moved his studio to a warehouse building a couple of doors away from our house, I had a set of narrow shelves built to accommodate his rubber jewellery moulds. While a few moulds dated back to the mid 1970s, Ivaan didn't start making moulds of his work in earnest until 1979.
Normally, if a client came and wanted to order a piece of jewellery that already existed, Ivaan would have to start searching randomly through heaps of rubber moulds. His only concession to order was his habit of drawing a little picture of the item on the side of the mould. His drawings were so good that it was usually possible for him to identify a mould by the illustration. Still, it was a hit-and-miss endeavour.
So I decided to add a layer of organization to the rubber moulds by sorting them by year. Ivaan thought this was an insane waste of time, but as the years went by, and more and more it was me being dispatched to find a mould, I heard fewer and fewer complaints. Anyway, while I was sorting his moulds according to year, Ivaan was busy losing people's diamonds, trying to build a jewellery tumbler out of an old stereo turntable, and imagining things had been stolen because he couldn't remember where he put them. (It's worth pointing out that jewellery tumblers existed and were readily available at every jewellery supply company in town, but Ivaan would not give in and buy one. He figured if he made his own, he wouldn't have to admit that someone else had had a good idea.
Some of Ivaan's jewellery is specific to a particular year or two. Other styles transcend the years and exist in several decades.
Last week, K and her husband P dropped by. We've known and liked them for ages. K had bought a yellow gold ring from Ivaan over a decade ago.
|K'S RING,. © ESTATE OF IVAAN KOTULSKY 1989|
She was so attached to that ring, it was like a member of her family. She asked if I could make her the identical ring in white gold. Sure, said I. All I have to do is find the mould. I knew Ivaan had made me a similar ring for our second anniversary, so I figured 1997 would be a good year to start my search. No luck. Not 1998, 1999 or 2000. Doggedly, I searched through until 2005. Still no luck. In case I'd misfiled it, I searched right up to 2016. Nada.
I reversed direction, and searched again, all the way from 2016 back to 1987. Then I realized I'd skipped 1989, so I searched that year. The second last mould in that bin looked very similar, and it was even her size, a 6 1/4. I refused to let myself get optimistic. I picked up the last mould in the bin. It looked a bit similar and it was the same size. I turned on the wax injector, injected a wax - and there it was.
Its taken me three days. I've opened over 4000 moulds in search of this one. I have found some terrific other rings during my search. Best of all, tomorrow I get to phone K and P and tell them with as much nonchalance as I can muster that I've found the mould.
I suppose you'll want to see what it looks like, after all that. I made a whole lot of waxes, and the most perfect of them became K's new ring.
|K'S NEW RING|
I feel like someone in a fairy tale who undertakes an impossible task and when she succeeds, she gets to marry the prince. Except I'm already married to the prince.