I was a kid hopped up on Tolkien and Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising sequence. I had a dream which was immense, epic, and embarrassingly derivative, in which I had to collect magical rings. One was a plain band of wood.
One looked like this:
I’ve thought about this ring, on and off, for thirty years. I’ve wondered about commissioning a silversmith to make it – that seemed slightly magical in itself, to bring something not just out of my imagination, but out of a weird semi-controlled part of my imagination, and make it tangible.
Then recently I discovered silver metal clay. This stuff feels like (super-expensive) blu-tack; when you fire it, it becomes solid silver.
So I made my own imaginary magical ring this weekend! See above photo.
Even though the main part of the process is basically (super-expensive) playdough, there are still gratifyingly alchemical moments. I fired it over a gas ring and it obligingly turned a Tolkienesque glowing rose, the indentations showing white against the glow. Then I dipped it in liver of sulphur and it went rich gold with oily rainbows.
I’ve bought myself rings to affirm significant things about myself, before. Here’s the one bought after a significant project, to say to myself: ‘I’m competent’. I lost it, replaced it, found the original and wore them both at once for a while (super-competent).
This latest ring is, I suppose, saying ‘I make things from my IMAGINATION’. Which is to say, a portable reminder to stop procrastinating and write more stuff.
But as I sintered and buffed it, ‘I MAKE THINGS’ came to seem like less of a claim. Everyone makes things from their imagination. I’m making rhubarb crumble, later today, and that’ll be me bringing into being something that wasn’t there before. Gaze upon the pudding I have wrought.
Possibly this is less about my ability to put things into the world, and more about the capacity of other people to colonise my imagination. After all, this isn’t just a thing from my imagination, nor even a thing from my dreams, but a thing from my shamelessly plagiarised dream. It’s the tyre-tracks of Tolkien and Cooper parking themselves in my subconscious.
The reverse of that: a couple of people have had dreams ‘set’ in worlds I’ve written. That was not something I ever planned for, and was a bloody brilliant feeling.
So maybe this ring is a symbol not of the amazingness of making things, but a recognition that things are the only way for stuff to pass from mind to mind. A constant loop of imagination > physical object > back into someone else’s imagination again. We communicate through things! That’s kind of obvious, and not strikingly profound, but the ring’s really shiny.
I’ll wear it for a bit and see if I become impossibly powerful or monstrously corrupt.