CG Sculpture and Jewelry

inspirations

What do a volcano and silver necklace have in common?

inspirationsCatherine Grisez2 Comments

Inspiration can often come from unusual places, but for my sculpture and jewelry, the lightening most often strikes when I’m active in nature. For many years I’ve flushed out ideas when on solo hikes - there’s nothing like being in a beautiful place with time to think. In recent years I’ve joined a trio of wonderful ladies - Wendy, Shannon, and Susan - for an annual backpacking trip, feats that have led to even greater inspiration. It’s not just the visuals - seeing natural beauty is of course lovely, but there’s always some deeper mental aspect. Capturing a feeling or emotion worked through while pushing my limits is the greater draw.

Below you’ll find the inspiration behind my Resilient Jewelry Collection

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This summer’s excursion was to Mt St Helen’s. We backpacked around the mountain and on the last day summited the peak. There was a bonus day of hiking our poor heat stroke affected friend out to safety then hiking back in to restart our journey. Hiking over hot lava fields with a 35+ lb pack on your back in 90+ degree heat is no joke!

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 The Loowit Trail around Mt St Helens covered many kinds of terrain - a lot of sparse rolling or jagged landscape, but also rivers, a tiny oasis, lava fields, steep gullies, and a little lush forest.

The Loowit Trail around Mt St Helens covered many kinds of terrain - a lot of sparse rolling or jagged landscape, but also rivers, a tiny oasis, lava fields, steep gullies, and a little lush forest.

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I will admit, there were moments of this hike that made me question why I was doing it. Dripping with sweat in the extreme heat magnified by lava fields and the open barren terrain was not actually that fun. Scrambling up and down some pretty steep gullies was scary at times and unnerving at others. Carrying excessive amounts of water up a long incline at the end of 10+ mile day (because there wasn’t another water source for the next day) actually made me cry a little bit at one point.

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But the upside made it worth it…

 Epic view on the way up to the peak of Mt St Helens

Epic view on the way up to the peak of Mt St Helens

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Pushing my limits beyond what I thought possible, though often scary to be that far outside my comfort zone, reminds me that anything is possible. Climbing in and out of gullies so steep they require rope assists, hiking miles and hours further than what I thought I was capable of, and pushing through physical fatigue lead to an unimaginable sense of accomplishment.

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The best example of the entire experience can be summed up in this image…

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This tiny plant, happily growing among rocks more than 6000 feet high up on the side of an unforgiving volcano sums up the feeling I experienced on this trip. IT’S POSSIBLE TO THRIVE DESPITE ADVERSITY - sometimes even because of it.

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This hike, barren and hot and one that I thought wouldn’t inspire me the way lush green environments usually do, turned out to make a distinct imprint I will never forget. I found beauty and awe in the subtle light and color changes, angles of the landscape, the devastation and subsequent slow paced recovery of the mountain environment, and of course the camaraderie of my hiking partners.

 Our weary dusty feet at the top of the volcano, looking into the crater.

Our weary dusty feet at the top of the volcano, looking into the crater.

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In the end I was unexpectedly very inspired when designing the Resilient Collection - pieces that capture the minimalist landscape combined with small treasures, reminders of our ability to persevere and grow in unlikely ways.

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I am so thankful for Shannon, Susan, and Wendy - the wonderkrew that keep nature and hiking more interesting and powerful than I ever thought possible. Each brings something unique and helpful to our backpacking experiences. So curious to see what next year brings!

You too can own a little piece of this inspiration and be regularly reminded that YOU CAN DO IT! Find more pieces from this collection here

When you wear this jewelry you will always be connected to it’s empowered source and know in your heart that you can and will THRIVE.

Food and Bitty Bowls - Interview from Urban Craft Uprising

inspirations, for funCatherine GrisezComment
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I’m pleased to participate in Gobble Up this year in Seattle. A show devoted to locally made artisanal food and handmade products for your table. Please do stop by! It’ll be a fantastic place to pick up unique treats for Thanksgiving, a superb host gift, or holiday gift shopping checked off the list early.

Saturday November 17th, 10am - 6pm - Bell Harbor Conference Center, 2211 Alaskan Way, Pier 66 | Seattle, WA 98121

In preparation for the show, the organizers conducted the following interview on facebook. I’ve reposted it here along with added images for your amusement. If you’re curious about my connection to making products for food, read on…

1)    Where does your passion for food come from?

My Mom! She’s an amazing cook who loves trying out new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen. We had a large garden growing up and canning was always a big summer activity when I was a kid. Though I didn’t inherit the green thumb, it planted a strong appreciation for the farm to table movement I enjoy now.

 Mom cooking up Christmas feasts for our big family over the years. Our tradition is a family recipe for chicken paprikash and spaetzle for dinner and my mom’s famous (to me!) palacsinta for breakfast.

Mom cooking up Christmas feasts for our big family over the years. Our tradition is a family recipe for chicken paprikash and spaetzle for dinner and my mom’s famous (to me!) palacsinta for breakfast.

 

2)    Tell us about your culinary journey.

Baking has long been a hobby of mine. I love making elaborately decorated treats for friends to enjoy. I bring this same sensibility to my series of Bitty Bowls and Spoons. It’s a fun way to bring color and sweetness into the kitchen (without the calories).

I majored in metalsmithing in college and have been making jewelry and sculpture ever since. Making small spice bowls and spoons has been a great way for me to bridge my appreciation for well crafted food with heirloom quality objects for the talented chefs who make those amazing meals.

 lovebird cake pops I made for friends wedding

lovebird cake pops I made for friends wedding

 sunbeam cake I made for friend’s birthday

sunbeam cake I made for friend’s birthday

 

3)    Where is your favorite place to eat?

Tough one. I’m partial to variety so I’m often trying out new restaurants when I go out. I mostly cook and eat at home but I’ve had fantastic memorable meals at several of Renee Erickson’s restaurants and would happily return to all of them repeatedly.

 

4)    Where do you source your ingredients?

I source the metal and glass enamel I use in my products from manufacturers within the US. Using these, I make everything by hand in my Seattle studio.

 

5)    Tell us about a new product you are working on.

I’m really excited about a new series of black and white bowls with graphite sketches I’m making. Similar to the colorful Bitty Bowls, I apply a couple base layers, but then carefully hand draw an image using a graphite pencil. This image is fused between layers of glass so it’s permanent and functional. They are also a little larger so work well with bigger hands or when you want more of your favorite spice/condiment/etc. Some of the drawings are inspired by my hikes in the area but I drew a handful of herb inspired bowls special for this show. Can you think of a better Thanksgiving host gift than this little lavender bowl?!

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6)    What will our fans find at your booth this fall?

Limited edition and one of a kind colorful bowls and spoons, copper disco spoons, the hand sketched series I mentioned above, and some special sterling silver long-handled mixing spoons for your favorite bartender.

The little bowls are excellent spice prep bowls in the kitchen but also make a colorful statement on the table for salt and pepper, perfect for everyday use or when you want to pull out all the stops at your fancy dinner party. I make the bowls and spoons by forging copper into a bowl shape and then fusing it with acid resistant, lead-free glass enamel in a 1500 degree kiln.

The raw spoons are forged and fabricated from metal by hand, each unique and expressive in character. 

 limited edition of sterling silver bartender stir spoons inspired by the ingredients in your favorite cocktail

limited edition of sterling silver bartender stir spoons inspired by the ingredients in your favorite cocktail

 these winter months scream for small pops of color

these winter months scream for small pops of color

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7)    What are your goals for your business in the next year?

First and foremost, my goal is always to make beautiful, high quality objects. I’m an artist so evolving the design and making process is the core of my business. Goals for the upcoming year include expanding one of a kind commission offerings and growing the Inspiring Women Project.

 

8)    What was your biggest challenge when starting out?

Trusting myself and my creative vision. It’s easy to have self-doubt, especially when starting out. Time and experience has led to more confidence, which makes everything easier and more fun. Speaking of starting out, since this interview is about food products, here’s a creamer and sugar bowl I made when first learning to be a metalsmith eons ago.

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9)    What's your favorite part of this food movement?

Eating delicious food!

I’m a strong proponent for quality over quantity. I appreciate locally sourced organic ingredients – makes such a big flavor difference and feels good (and fun) to support vendors at my local farmers market. I believe there is a mutual respect for the objects we have in our home and use in the kitchen – surrounding ourselves with high quality items has a similar impact to feeding ourselves with high quality healthy food, both result in a sense of considerate self-care, which makes it easier to be available and giving towards others.

 Speaking of local farms… Inspired by  Bow Hill Blueberries , these berry bowls go great with Bow Hill’s pickled blueberries for a unique treat.

Speaking of local farms… Inspired by Bow Hill Blueberries, these berry bowls go great with Bow Hill’s pickled blueberries for a unique treat.

10) What's the best part of your job?

I get to work with my hands and be creative on a regular basis. I also love the way it allows me to connect with people – to have my work in people’s homes where I know it’s appreciated and used. I was at a dinner party recently where salt and red pepper filled Bitty Bowls were the functional centerpiece to a warm evening of fun conversation and connection. Such an honor!

This video shows me removing a batch of Bitty Bowls from the kiln after fusing the first base layer. Hands in action!

Blueberries, Bowls, Herbs and Soup

for fun, inspirations, new workCatherine GrisezComment

I’ve discovered the most delicious thing that has ever been done to a berry…

PICKLED BLUEBERRIES!

Of course I love fresh blueberries in the summer when they are at their peak, but here’s a fantastic way to enjoy them the rest of the year. Bow Hill Blueberries makes pickled blueberries from heirloom organic berries picked fresh on their farm. They make a lot of other amazing products too but these are my favorite.

I was so inspired I had to make some blueberry bowls! After forging copper into bowls and adding a base layer of vitreous enamel, I sketched the blueberries with a graphite pencil and fused the drawings between layers of glass.

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I’ll have these one of a kind bowls this Saturday at Gobble Up, a show devoted to artisanal food and products for your table. If you’re in Seattle, please stop by! Bow Hill will also be there. An enameled copper blueberry bowl and jar of pickled blueberries would make the best gift for your favorite foodie.

Shown above are Bow Hill’s pickled blueberries mixed with goat cheese (which is freaking amazing!). This mix or a little bowl of the berries would make a great accompaniment to a cheese plate at your next holiday gathering. People will rave about your foodie prowess. And if you have left over pickled blueberries, here’s a yummy SQUASH SOUP recipe.

I couldn’t stop at blueberries! I’ve also made a series of one of a kind herb inspired Bitty Bowls that will make their debut at the show this Saturday. Come early, I only made 8!

 Oregano, Parsley, Lavender, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, Star Anise

Oregano, Parsley, Lavender, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, Star Anise


Where did the spring/Summer go?!

inspirations, Inspiring Women Project, for funCatherine GrisezComment

Sometimes as a company of ONE it's hard to stay on top of all the stuff and things. I'm clearly not much of a juggler... I definitely dropped the ball on posting here!

There have been several more Inspiring Women Project winners announced since my last post. Congrats to Lila Ghising, Jane Deer, and Sara So! These ladies are fantastic examples of inspiration. You can read more about them here. I took the summer off but will be announcing a September winner soon. Feel free to nominate an inspiring woman in your life!

In addition to honoring impressive people, I've been remodeling/reorganizing my studio to better suit the way I currently work. I'll be posting more on that transformation soon.

Lastly, I've been out exploring the pacific northwest, building up inspiration for art to come. I've climbed some mountains that culminated in a backpacking trip around the circumference and up to the summit of Mt St Helens. This time last week I was at the top peering into the crater of a volcano! More to come on that soon...

First Inspiring Women Project Winner!

Inspiring Women Project, inspirations, for funCatherine GrisezComment

Congratulations to Wendy Woldenberg!!!

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Each month one amazing inspiring woman will be chosen from a pool of nominated women to receive this jewelry award. The Inspiring Women Project is a celebration of the GOOD, the COMPASSIONATE, the COURAGEOUS, the INSPIRING.

Wendy is the March Inspiring Woman!
I'm kicking off this award with a personal choice. I nominated Wendy for many reasons, but most notably for her generosity towards others. A teacher for 22 years, she has spent countless hours (and her own money!) to ensure her students gain amazing experiences they would otherwise never have known. Outside the classroom she is dedicated to ensuring the jewelry industry works toward a greater good through her role in Ethical Metalsmiths and her own jewelry work. Wendy is a champion and patron of emerging (and established) artists, creating opportunities such as Art Under $100 and many other events through South Park Arts. She is a dedicated and generous friend who goes above and beyond and has taught me a new definition for brave. Thank you Wendy!

Do you know someone inspiring like Wendy? Nominate her here. The April winner will be chosen the second week of the month.

Inspiring Women Project

for fun, inspirationsCatherine GrisezComment

It's finally here! This idea came to me last year around this time. I wanted a way to acknowledge and show my appreciation for all the amazing women out there doing great things for her friends/family/community.  Recognizing inspiring women with jewelry seemed like the natural (obviously I'm a jeweler!) solution.

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I hope you'll all join me in the effort to thank women you know who lift others up. Nominate the woman in your life who's doing great things, no matter how big or small the efforts.

The first winner will be announced on International Women's Day
March 8th, 2018

A new winner will be chosen each month and featured on the Inspiring Women page. She will also receive the necklace award along with a hand written note touting your personalized appreciation.

Let's celebrate the Good. the Courageous. the Compassionate. the Inspiring.

Nominate her here

Your radishes, made better with butter

for fun, inspirationsCatherine GrisezComment

Have you ever had radishes with butter and salt? Neither had I, until working with two powerhouse ladies on a photoshoot using my Bitty Bowls in the kitchen. Carol Clifford from Orange House Press (also a fantastic chef) and Sarah Flotard, an incredible food photographer turned me on to this interesting and tasty treat.

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This dish is most commonly found in France, though I also read stories of people from other countries who had it as kids so I'm not sure of it's exact origin. From what I can tell in reading through lots of recipes for it, you must trust your own palate - pick a salt and butter that you really love and have it on fresh crisp radishes. 

I think Gabrielle Hamilton, chef and author, sums it up best in her article in the New York Times about this delicious dish - "The peppery, fiery radishes are tamed by the swipe through the cool, creamy butter, and then the flavors of both are brought out by the salt. The radishes are so cold and crunchy and spicy, and they have a mildly sulfuric note. The butter is unexpectedly sweet in contrast. It’s addictive."

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this dish! Comment below if you have a fond memory with this food or you're trying it for the first time and let me know what you think. And if you want unique dishes for your butter and salt to make the presentation extra special, check out my Bitty Bowls. Who's adding this to their Thanksgiving table?!

Now at Imprint Gallery - Inspiration from the Beach

shows, inspirations, new workCatherine GrisezComment

We don't need much of an excuse to visit Cannon Beach, it's beautiful! Luckily, you can also see my sculpture in this fantastic Oregon coastal town. Imprint, a new gallery and print studio there has a selection of music boxes and special one of a kind sculptures.

  Bowl No. Twenty  - sterling silver and brass, 6" x 12" x 11"

Bowl No. Twenty - sterling silver and brass, 6" x 12" x 11"

If you are familiar with my work, you know I'm often inspired by nature and the oddities found while walking on the beach or hiking in the mountains. So it's pertinent that this piece found it's way to the coast... It was inspired by the egg case of a skate/shark (otherwise known as a mermaid's purse or devil's purse), something I found while walking on the beach.

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These little pouches are fascinating with their tendrils and deep black color. Interestingly, the sharp tendrils exist to secure the egg cases in rocks and protect them from predators. Most egg cases that wash up on shore are empty because the creature has already hatched and is (hopefully!) swimming happily in the sea. In contrast to the black empty pod, I chose to make the interior of this piece bright white silver, a reflection of the life within and the points to represent our instincts to hold on.

A few other pieces you'll find at Imprint...

  Manifest One  - copper vessel, 5.5” x 4.75” x 3.25"

Manifest One - copper vessel, 5.5” x 4.75” x 3.25"

  Indulge  - music box, steel, bronze, silver, mixed media, 5.75” x 4” x 4”

Indulge - music box, steel, bronze, silver, mixed media, 5.75” x 4” x 4”

  Reject  - music box, steel, bronze, mixed media, 6” x 4” x 4”

Reject - music box, steel, bronze, mixed media, 6” x 4” x 4”

  Reject  - open view  This piece plays the song "What the World Needs Now' when opened.

Reject - open view

This piece plays the song "What the World Needs Now' when opened.

If you have a chance to check out Cannon Beach and/or Imprint, please comment below to let me know your favorite part of the visit!

The making of Lady Liberty (and how you can too!)

inspirations, for fun, classes/lecturesCatherine Grisez3 Comments

This summer I had the good fortune to visit my niece in New York City. Along with my mom and sisters, we got to see her awash in the fun exciting energy of the city, following her journalism dreams as she interned at NBC Nightly news. Normally when I visit the big apple I stick to galleries and general nyc mayhem, but this time around we hit some iconic staples- Rockefeller, 9/11 memorial, Ellis Island, and of course the Statue of Liberty.

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Part of the reason Lady Liberty was such a highlight for me (in addition to having a great reminder of America as a welcoming country) is because the process used to make her - repousse hammer forming - is one I frequently use in my sculptural work. Repousse is the art of hammering metal from the inside (or back) to create a form. It is often paired with chasing, which is hammering from the outside (or front) of the form.

I thought I'd share some images from the museum for those who are curious how she's made...

 This is a plaster model of her toes. Since the statue is recreating an immense figure, models were used to ensure accuracy of scale. It's also a better way to make the parts since everything is so huge.

This is a plaster model of her toes. Since the statue is recreating an immense figure, models were used to ensure accuracy of scale. It's also a better way to make the parts since everything is so huge.

 Here's the big toe being formed in a wood mold made from the plaster model above. In the small metals world, we often skip the model and use pitch or wax for this purpose, or even sometimes hammering on air. Since I'm often working with abstract imagery, I can form over a variety of steel stakes, sand bags, and hammers to get the shapes I want.

Here's the big toe being formed in a wood mold made from the plaster model above. In the small metals world, we often skip the model and use pitch or wax for this purpose, or even sometimes hammering on air. Since I'm often working with abstract imagery, I can form over a variety of steel stakes, sand bags, and hammers to get the shapes I want.

 The same toe after hammering is completed with reinforcement bars on the interior. This metal is about 1/8" thick - thin in terms of a large scale statue (hence support bars), but quite thick in terms of small scale metalforming. I usually use metal sheet that is about less than half this thickness. Also, notice the tool to the left called a mushroom stake, one of the tools we use frequently in the holloware/metalsmithing world. It's most often used to smooth out forms from the outside that have been roughly shaped from the inside.

The same toe after hammering is completed with reinforcement bars on the interior. This metal is about 1/8" thick - thin in terms of a large scale statue (hence support bars), but quite thick in terms of small scale metalforming. I usually use metal sheet that is about less than half this thickness. Also, notice the tool to the left called a mushroom stake, one of the tools we use frequently in the holloware/metalsmithing world. It's most often used to smooth out forms from the outside that have been roughly shaped from the inside.

 And voila - the finished toe as seen from the outside. Notice the rivets on the toenail - that's where it's attached to the reinforcement bar as seen in the previous picture.

And voila - the finished toe as seen from the outside. Notice the rivets on the toenail - that's where it's attached to the reinforcement bar as seen in the previous picture.

 You can get a better idea of the scale here with my sisters snazzy sneaker rubbing toes.

You can get a better idea of the scale here with my sisters snazzy sneaker rubbing toes.

 A replica of her face. At more than 8' tall this is copper forming at a most impressive scale.

A replica of her face. At more than 8' tall this is copper forming at a most impressive scale.

 Notice the seem on her nose. Smaller forms were joined together to create one solid shape. To join pieces of metal, In some cases they are riveted to each other or reinforcement bars and in others welded or soldered. Here you can see the soldered zipper seam, a process I've used on larger seamed vessels and one I've taught during holloware classes. Rather than using a butt seam, a zipper seam can handle much more distress during the hammering process.

Notice the seem on her nose. Smaller forms were joined together to create one solid shape. To join pieces of metal, In some cases they are riveted to each other or reinforcement bars and in others welded or soldered. Here you can see the soldered zipper seam, a process I've used on larger seamed vessels and one I've taught during holloware classes. Rather than using a butt seam, a zipper seam can handle much more distress during the hammering process.

 This view shows the interior structure and stairwell up to the crown. Sadly reservations to walk up were sold out but I was able to get this peak into the inside. To the right you can see the interior of the copper with the reinforcement bars that support the form and hold things together.

This view shows the interior structure and stairwell up to the crown. Sadly reservations to walk up were sold out but I was able to get this peak into the inside. To the right you can see the interior of the copper with the reinforcement bars that support the form and hold things together.

There you have it! Pretty amazing for those of us who geek out on metalsmithing. For those of you who want first hand experience with this process, the next workshop I'm teaching is right up your alley. October 7-8 at Pratt Fine Arts in Seattle, I'll be teaching a Metal masks class where we'll be hammering copper sheet much like you see here (only thinner metal and smaller pieces!)

 A few sample copper masks for the workshop. Come hammer with us! Perhaps a Lady Liberty mask is in your future?

A few sample copper masks for the workshop. Come hammer with us! Perhaps a Lady Liberty mask is in your future?

From nature to jewelry

new work, inspirations, for funCatherine GrisezComment

As many of you know I get a lot of inspiration from being in nature. Hikes in the mountains, walks on the beach, garden strolls, swimming outdoors - all lead to tons of ideas and no less than 100 close up photos of flowers, leaves, pods, and beach oddities on my phone. There is nothing like that sense of inner calm while simultaneously being energized from being outside. So when given the opportunity to design jewelry for fellow nature lovers, I'm thrilled and jump at the chance! 

A recent wedding ring set commission reminded me how lucky I am when I can combine my passions - art and nature. The fellow and I talked at length about he and his girlfriend's (now fiance!) outdoor adventures, hobbies, and design aesthetics. Fortunately for me, she posts a ton of pics from their hikes on Instagram so I was able to get a sense of her favorite imagery. I asked them to email me pics of a few of their favorite hiking excursions. Between our conversations, her instagram account and thier pictures - I was able to create a design that fit her aesthetic, lifestyle, and commemorated a few of their favorite places.

 These two photos embody the design I came up with. She's a fanatic for amazing looking mushrooms and posts the most incredible pictures of all the creatures she's come across on her hikes. The water worn rock blew their minds when they came across it on a hike near Leavenworth. 

These two photos embody the design I came up with. She's a fanatic for amazing looking mushrooms and posts the most incredible pictures of all the creatures she's come across on her hikes. The water worn rock blew their minds when they came across it on a hike near Leavenworth. 

By combining these two textures, I was able to create a design that will forever remind this happy couple of their hiking adventures together. The mushrooms serve double duty - part aesthetic and partly as prongs for setting diamonds. The water worn rock texture is a nice visual contrast to the bulbous mushrooms. I also really appreciate the symbology - the prolific essence of love and companionship that endures the test of time - a story told through nature. 

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All in all, it was a fun and challenging project and I couldn't be happier for the couple who owns them!