I received a message through my facebook page asking if I could make a ring for a girl’s 18th birthday. Her two sisters wanted to get her something really special set with her birthstone.
I suggested that I could make something based on the three stars in Orion’s Belt because those stars are called the three sisters. The customers thought this was an interesting idea and asked for sketches.
I started to do some research with this as a starting point. I learned that although the stars in Orion’s Belt look like they are in a straight line in the night sky they are actually very far apart in distance ranging from 736 to 1340 light years from the earth. I wasn’t sure how this would fit with the customer’s needs in terms of getting a design to express the emotional connection they share so I started to look at other things which had the three sister connection.
I remembered I had visited Glen Coe and climbed mountains there which are called the three sisters. I thought that this would be a nice idea because the customer is Scottish and the mountains are close together rather than far apart like the stars. I also looked at the play, The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov. The thing that stood out for me about this play was that the three sisters had a strong desire to return home to Moscow but different circumstances kept them from doing that. I read in a critical analysis that the main theme of the play was that Moscow kept maintaining its distance from the sisters.
I started to feel that this commission was actually about distance and closeness. The distance between the stars, even though they look close. The closeness of the mountains even though they are separate. The closeness the sister’s felt for their distant Moscow.
As I researched further into the relationship between closeness and distance, I came across something called the moon illusion. You can read about it in detail here but it basically describes how the moon appears to look larger when it is closer to the horizon even though it remains the same size. The link explains “a simple way of demonstrating that the effect is an illusion is to hold a small object (say, 1/4 inch wide) at arm’s length (25 inches) with one eye closed, positioning it next to the seemingly large Moon. When the Moon is higher in the sky, positioning the same object near the Moon reveals that there is no change in size.” It occurred to me that if objects only appear close or distant depending on our individual perception, the angle that we view things from, our mood or the context and the scale we use to measure that perhaps this is true of relationships too. Identity is not just who we are but where we are and what we are surrounded by. Relationships between sisters can feel close at times and very distant at others but regardless of the space between them, emotional or physical, there is a link, a special shared bond that keeps them forever connected.
So I decided to make a set of rings based on the idea of viewing things from different angles to discover something new. The three rings are all unique and special and different but together they make up something that clearly belongs together and will be eternally connected because of this. The three rings look like a mountain range side on like the three sisters in Glen Coe.
From the top, the birthstones of the sisters have been set to represent the stars in Orion’s Belt.
I discussed this idea with the customer and offered to either make one ring that had all three birthstones in it or three separate rings, one for each of them. She loved the idea and wanted three rings so I sketched the idea for her and she commissioned me to make them.
This is a picture of the commissioned rings seen from the side.
This is a picture of the rings from the top.
Here’s how each ring looks on its own.This is the one for March set with an aquamarine.
This is the one for September set with a sapphire.
This is the one for October set with a tourmaline.
The birthday gift for one sister's 18th became an expression of the bond that they share, something they can keep and wear forever.