Saturday, August 19, 2017


Back in 1997, a young couple named Lou and Karen came into Ivaan's store on Queen Street West.  Soon to be married, they were looking for a wedding ring for the groom-to-be. Lou chose a ring that is a real Ivaan classic: a thick, wide band with a Celtic love knot worked into the design.  He wanted it made in 18 karat yellow gold, which is a very rich hue.  It's a heavy, ornate ring, complicated to make, but especially in 18 karat gold, it must have been spectacular, and noticeable from about a block away. Lou wore a size eight and a half, but the ring he chose was originally made two sizes smaller, so Ivaan had to make a larger version to fit Lou's finger.

Ten months after their marriage, life got busy, as Lou and Karen welcomed their baby daughter to the family.  And somewhere along the line, Lou's wedding ring went missing.  One day, it vanished from their home and was never seen again.  Karen purchased a different ring to replace the original, but Lou promptly lost it in a deep, cold lake.

Lou's 50th birthday was in early August.  Karen decided that she wanted to surprise him with a duplicate of his original wedding ring.  First, she needed to put on her detective hat and do some sleuthing.  That's how she discovered our shop on Dupont Street.  But it had been quite a while since she'd seen Lou's original ring, so she enlisted their daughter to come into the shop with her and try to describe the ring.  This was a smart move, because their daughter remembered her Dad's original ring vividly.  She remembered the Celtic love knot, she remembered the rich colour of the gold and she remembered the "real estate" of the ring:  how much space it took up on his finger.

Karen was no slouch in this process, either.  She realized that Lou's finger had probably gotten bigger over the years, and she managed to spirit away a ring of Lou's that fit him perfectly so I could measure it.  She was right.  Lou now needed a size 10.  Between the two women, they were pretty sure they knew exactly which ring style was Lou's original.

Problem was, the original mould of this ring was still a size six and a half.  Six and a half to eight is tough, but it's manageable.  Six and a half to ten takes nerves of steel.

Ivaan was good at documenting the details of things he was working on, so I decided to search through his journals, and I managed to find his original entry for Lou's ring: their names, Lou's address, Karen's phone number, the ring size, plus all the details about the gold.  So I was off to a good start.  Next, I had to give myself permission to fail.  I knew that my chances of being able to make a size 10 ring out of a size 6.5 first time around were slim, so I injected several waxes and pretended I was just practising an expansion.  With the pressure off,  the anxiety dissipated slightly, and eventually I realized that I had made a good-looking size 10.  But good looking is not the same thing as functional.  It can look perfect and still have microscopic flaws or cracks.

So I had to go over it several times with a 30x magnifier, checking and double checking, strengthening and reinforcing the wax where I even imagined there might be a weak spot. This is nervewracking work.

Somehow the stars aligned and the casting of Lou's new ring came out even better than I'd hoped.  I took it home and started finishing it.  It's tempting to go at the finishing process hammer-and-tongs, but I knew I had to use a gentle touch so the ring remained a size 10.  And somehow it all came together, just in time for Lou's milestone birthday.

Lou's Ring ©2017 Estate of Ivaan Kotulsky

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