Reddit user Marcus LaPorte made headlines earlier this month when he forged a wedding band from a piece of a meteorite and posted photos of the ring online. LaPorte, a 34-year-old art director and custom fabricator, has been married for three years and has a 16-month-old daughter. Below, he explains how he designed and created the ring. For more info on LaPorte's work check out his website, and to get your own custom ring, email email@example.com
I was introduced to the concept [of the meteorite ring] by a really talented friend, coworker, and jeweler named Kit Casati who had been making meteorite jewelry items for a number of years. He was nice enough to mentor me through the process, as it was extremely intensive and not for the amateur fabricator. But, thanks to Kit's expertise along the way, the ring came out perfectly.
I made this ring for many reasons:
1. I wanted to do something really special for the wedding.
2. I have an obsession for making things. I just love creating from nothing -- it's so satisfying.
3. I had been making stuff for others commercially for many years, and in that time I'd forgotten about making something for myself.
4. I love space, and always wanted to be an astronaut, and really still have a hope that I will make it to space one day. But, if not, wearing a meteorite on my finger will be the next best thing.
The ring was made using traditional forging techniques similar to how samurai swords are made. The technical term is "pattern welding," and results in a form of "damascus steel." It basically involves heating and shaping multiple sections of different metals together to make a unified piece. There is no melting involved, just heating in the forge, and hammering while its hot on an anvil.
In my case, I took alternating sections of a Gibeon iron-based meteorite and nickel tooling steel. After sandwiching the metal, heating it, and hammering it together, it becomes a single piece of metal which is then twisted to form a spiral, flattened and wrapped around a mandrel equal to my finger size. Then, after lots of hand-filing and sanding, it is dipped in PCB etching fluid, revealing the two different metals. This etching process is what gives the ring its contrasting color striped "grain". It also reveals what is called a Widmanstatten pattern on the sections of meteorite. It is a crystallization process that can only form by millions of years of slow cooling in zero gravity.
There are many online retailers for Gibeon meteorites, as they are popular with rock collectors, but I chose my meteorite mainly based off a desire for an appropriate shape for hammering, and a dash of whether or not it felt like "the one" since I had a special purpose for it in mind.
I did not make a companion to this ring for my wife. We looked at many rings together prior to the wedding, and she quickly found something she fell in love with before I had the idea of making mine, so we just got it. However, I found myself underwhelmed by the options and overwhelmed by the prices for men's rings, which led me to decide to make mine myself and try to do something amazing to make our special day that much more special. Another reason I made mine and not hers is because a larger men's band was just more suitable to the process: The forging techniques I used mainly apply on a larger scale, so making a smaller, thinner, more feminine ring was going to be a near impossibility to do without the metal melting into nothing. But, I guess with some more practice, it's certainly possible to make one for women, too.
As told to Jennifer Lai
Below, photos of LaPorte's meteorite ring: