Best-Loved Handcrafted Treasure – from Talia

Today I’m going to share with you my most favorite handmade item that I own. This will be the first in a series of blog posts from people around our community – sharing what we Love most about handmade with you, our community. I’m SO excited to get this blog series started because we have some AWESOME people lined up to tell you about their most revered handmade gifts and trinkets. But, today, I’m going to share mine.

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It’s *really* tough for me to choose just ONE favorite amongst all the handcrafted goodness that’s floating around my home. I mean, seriously – my grandma started me crafting (think, painted peg dolls and handmade clothing for cement ducks) when I was a wee child. My teen years saw me making zines and *gasp* scrapbooks. In my early twenties (until now) I’ve focused on making books and photo-books in various forms, and I became part of the handmade community here in Bloomington. I’ve been a part of ELEVEN Bloomington Handmade Markets (this spring will be 12) each with over 50 artists and makers whom I adore, not to mention the over 100 other art and craft shows I’ve attended over the years. I have collections from Christie Cooper, Sally Harless, The Collective Press, Starsprinkle Supercollider, Methane Studios, Alyssa Oakley and All Things Grow. My 6 year old has his own gallery leading up the stairs in our home and I have curio cabinets filled with various school projects from our 14 and 20 year olds. I have quilts from my husband’s side of the family, afghans from my grandmother, paper beaded necklaces, gourd lanterns from Mexico (our honeymoon), and custom made curtains, throw pillows, and even bedspreads. We are not lacking for handcrafted treasures in this home, let me tell you.

But, the one that takes the cake – the one that is more special than all of them combined – is one that I sadly no longer wear, but I’m going to tell you about it today.

In 2003 I met the man I was going to marry (and did marry) and one of my best friends was studying jewelry (and animation) at Savannah College of Art and Design. She and I had only met the year prior, and were neighbors in Collins for only a semester before she moved down south to study Art. But something about that sophomore year of undergrad brought us together, and through her years in Savannah and up until her relatively recent move back up to Chicago we’ve always been close – even when far away.

At the time I was obsessed with (maybe still am) trees and intertwining branches, and she was up for the challenge. So, together, we set off to create my wedding band, together. We were writing the story ourselves and it was amazing.  I sketched up what I wanted- knowing absolutely NOTHING about how jewelry was made or what it would entail to make it. I Loved filigree and the look of the intricate wedding bands I saw in bridal magazines. I was an easy target for bridal marketing.

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my initial mock-up of the ring – complete with Tori Amos quote

She in Savannah, I here in Bloomington – we set off on a journey together, and she created a wedding band for me that will forever have the most meaning of any handmade item I will ever own. The ring changed from concept to realization, but I’ve never been more happy with the end-result of anything (accept for, you know, maybe my marriage). I Loved the way she took my original idea, and made it work within her design and skillset. And I absolutely adore the heart shape the intertwining branches falls into in the center! It will forever have a story to me, a background, a history – it will always hold a place in my heart of that time in my life with her as my friend, and my husband as the willing participant in my bridezilla moment. And that story, that memory in time,  is always why buying handmade (to me) is worth it every time.

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