Memories to Heirlooms
Memories to Heirlooms
My niece, Abby, has found her match in Adam. Their relationship has weathered many highs and lows in the 10 years they have been together, including: a 2 year long distance relationship, the loss of Adam's father, and 3 months backpacking through southern Asia. They developed a real knowledge and respect for each other and a strong, binding love. It was wonderful to hear that they had gotten engaged and I was so pleased when they accepted my offer to make their wedding favors.
In February 2019, Abby and her family came to visit. While here, Abby and I started to brainstorm ideas. When my first nephew was born, I started creating and buying a yearly Christmas ornament for the family, so Abby wanted me to make an ornament to honor their wedding.
Abby and her mother had found some ornaments online that were clay impressed with plants with a light stain similar to the ornaments above (from jewlerybymondaen on etsy.) I had not seen the actual idea, so I came with clay, a leaf cookie cutter and some thoughts as well. While sitting at her grandmother's kitchen table, we played with clay and plants until we settled on a design. I wish I had taken a picture of this because it would show how well we both saw the vision out of some bits of clay.
While discussing what type of clay to use, stoneware or porcelain, I retrieved this porcelain acorn by Margaret Furlong to show what porcelain would be like. When Abby said this was one of her favorite ornaments we decided to use porcelain and raise the design.
The goal was to make 170 ornaments made from two separate porcelain tiles shaped like leaves, joined by ribbon, (doubling the number of pieces.) The plants they choose were a palm from her bouquet and eucalyptus berries from Adam's boutonniere. The berries were easy to source at Floral Designs of Mount Joy, but their palms were too large so I purchased a miniature palm at a local greenhouse.
To produce that many tiles and to make them consistent, I would need to make molds. Each plant was pressed into spare clay. Unfortunately, despite being the perfect size, the palm did not leave a deep enough impression to work for the project.
So I tried a fern, which looked - wait for it - like a fern. Luckily I found an artificial palm at Joann's Fabrics which worked beautifully.
It was time to check in with Abby and Adam.
I realize how many times my ideas had to be reworked to get to the final project. I don't see any failure in that - simply learning. Doing custom work gives me the opportunity and freedom to learn as I go with the confidence that through collaboration and perseverance I will find the answers in the end to create something that will speak to the wishes of my client.
When I started Remember When Studio, I did not plan on offering my pottery or stained glass skills but this project has taught me to be open to using any gifts I have to benefit others. Need a personalized favor for your wedding or special event? We can talk about that.
Abby's thank you to their guests:
Ever since I can remember, my Aunt Jean has been creating beautiful, sentimental gifts for Gerdes family birthdays, holidays, and celebrations. Over the years she has made jewelry from my grandfather's cufflinks and teddy bears from his suits; custom clay portraits of beloved family pets, and personalized aprons for the time we spend baking together.
I treasure everything my Aunt Jean creates but I have always especially loved the ornaments she makes for our family every Christmas. Every year without fail, she crafts something special for us all to hang on our trees - an ornament that commemorates a significant moment from the year, imbued layers of symbolism and heartfelt detailing. I treasure these ornaments because collectively they tell a story of our family, a story we can look back on and celebrate each Christmas season.
So today, as our family grows, we’d like to share this tradition with each and every one of you. As a gesture of our gratitude for sharing in our wedding celebration today, we hope you will take one of these ornaments which my Aunt Jean has so lovingly made. The ornament’s botanical detailing is inspired by our wedding greenery (specifically the plants used in my bouquet and Adam’s boutonniere), and the overlapping leaves signify the coming together of two still unique and distinct lives.
It brings us so much joy to be able to celebrate with you all today, and it’s our hope that now, each December as you put up your tree, you’ll be reminded again of our gratitude
Jean is the owner and designer for Remember When Studio.