“You’re going to have to hit it a lot harder than that”, I say as I’m watching Adrian timidly striking the ring on the mandrel. We have a lot of metal to move to get the ring up to its final size and I reassure him there is little chance of us going too far.
Adrian stops what he’s doing and looks at me, then to Hali.
Adrian offers her the hammer, “Do you want to try it?”
“Yeah”, she says as she accepts it and eagerly trades places with her husband.
Orange is young, full of daring but very unsteady for the first go around.
– Jimi Hendrix, “Bold as Love”
It has been fun watching these two go back and forth all morning, getting a chance to try their hand at each stage of the process. Present are the inherent unsure movements that accompany doing something for the first go time, but their confidence is clearly increasing with each successive phase of creation.
Hali strikes me as the more outgoing of the two, so it’s no surprise she jumps into the process with noticeably more enthusiasm.
From Adrian there is absolutely no trace of jealousy or resentment when stepping aside; he seems perfectly content to watch his wife step in and work on his ring, possibly more than his own hands could provide.
Hali listens to my cues for a brief moment before diving in and starts pounding on the band with surprising vigor.
“Yeah!” I yell through her ear muffs, “that’s how you do it!”
Adrian and I smile at Hali, then at each other.
As she makes her way around the ring I remind Hali to take it off and turn it around after each pass, to ensure the ring does not maintain the flared shape of the tapered mandrel. The metal moves fast and the ring grows, new hammer marks quickly replacing the old.
Adrian takes over when the ring is almost up to size, his restrained approach to hammering more appropriate for the final touches. At this point my work is done and I simply stand back and watch him hammer, test fit, flip, hammer some more, test fit again.
We don’t even look at the final size because it doesn’t matter: his finger is all the guide he needs, and its feedback is infallible.
Adrian stands blinking at his hand, a smile on his face. And just like that, it is done.
Four hours after starting our journey and Adrian has a wedding ring on his finger again.
Upstairs, we share hugs and cups of mulled cider as we reflect on the experience together.
Leaving the intense concentration and hushed anticipation of the workshop, I hear and see and feel the emotion rising in Adrian’s eyes.
You see, it’s not about the ring at all.