Do-it-yourself wedding bands becoming a growing trend

Curtis Wadsworth doesn’t quite remember how he lost his wedding band, but he thinks it may be deep in the bowels of his sink.

“This is a common occurrence in the Wadsworth family,” Curtis said with a laugh.

But it opened up the opportunity for the Pittsburgh resident to do something he said was more special than buying a replacement ring. He had taken introductory blacksmithing classes at the Barefoot Forge, a small shop in a large warehouse in Allison Park, Pa., and thought it was time to take things to the next level. To him, buying a ring was out of the question.

“Why would I do that when I can make something that’s hand-forged and unique?” he told Fox News.

So Curtis found himself with self-taught blacksmith and owner of the Barefoot Forge Craig Cowan at the blacksmith shop trying to figure out how to tell his wife he lost the ring.

“It wasn’t where I left it, and I felt bad,” Curtis said. “And now my wife’s gonna know.”

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The process can take 10 to 14 hours to make a wedding band, and after a long day of hammering, forging and machining.  (Fox News)

Cowan said he’s been helping people make their own wedding bands and engagement rings for six years.

“It’s such an honor to make someone’s wedding ring because it’s so personal.” Cowan told Fox News. "They chose me, a total stranger in most cases, to represent them for life.”

But Cowan isn't the only one offering these services. Businesses are popping up across the country specializing in helping couples create their own custom jewelry. Blacksmithing is also gaining popularity. Artist-Blacksmith's Association of North America (ABANA) has grown from 27 members when it was established in 1973, to 4,000 active members today. The organization told Fox News it's seen an increase in interest from younger generations.

“They like to play with fire," a secretary at ABANA told Fox News.
The popularity in the craft is also seen on The History Channel's Forged in Fire, a blacksmith contest, which became the second most popular non-fiction show on the channel. About 1.1 million adults ages 25 to 54 and 988,000 adults ages 18 to 49 watched the fourth season, according to Vice News.

Cowan said people have come from across the country and even out of the country to forge their own rings at his shop. With a base price of $800, the rings are made of damascus steel, a block of metal that stacks two different metals together. The manipulation of the block of metal then creates a unique wavy pattern in a ring after it’s dipped in acid.

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Craig Cowan has been helping couples make wedding bands for six years.  (Fox News)

Now it’s Curtis’ turn, and he admits he’s only ever made two items: a bottle opener and a steel rose.

“I know enough not to burn myself and probably not hit myself with a hammer,” Curtis said, laughing. Then he burned his shirt.

“See, that’s what happens when you’re an amateur,” Curtis said as he put on an apron to cover the hole in his shirt.

Facing him was a sign saying: “Failure is absolutely an option.” Cowan said that message is key in the ring-making process.

The process requires more than acceptance of failure though. Cowan told Fox News patience is necessary as it can take 10 to 14 hours to make a wedding band, and after a long day of hammering, forging and machining, Curtis finally has a ring to show his wife.

“That is definitely cool,” Curtis said as the acid started to reveal the ring’s pattern. The final product was a Damascus steel ring lined in sterling silver.

Cowan is convinced the practice of making one’s own wedding band should be more popular than it is.

“I think the idea of being able to come and participate in making something that represents you is important,” Cowan told Fox News.

Curtis said that even after losing a shirt in the process, it was worth making a personalized ring.

His next mission: telling his wife he lost his ring, decided to make one himself and almost burned himself in the process.

Michelle Chavez is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in Pittsburgh.