Michigan-inspired gifts for your wedding party

Interesting  gifts for your bridesmaids and groomsmen can be another way to express your individuality and gratitude simultaneously. There are many skilled craftspeople in Michigan working with numerous materials - stones, gems, wood, copper, ceramics, and glass to name a few.  I have chosen two of the materials I find the most stunning as they are specifically unique to Michigan:  Petoskey stones and Fordite (also known as "Detroit Agate"). I have included a bit of background on each material.

PETOSKEY STONES: Petoskey stones are essentially fossilized coral. The stones were formed as a result of glaciation about 350 million years ago. In some areas of Michigan, complete fossilized coral colony heads can be found. Mainly found in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, the stones were named the state stone of Michigan in 1965. Petoskey stones are very versatile and can be made into a variety of gifts.

FORDITE, also known as Motor Agate or Detroit Agate,  is automotive enamel. The original layered automotive paint slag was made incidentally years ago, by the now extinct practice of hand spray-painting multiples of production cars in the automotive factories of Detroit. The oversprayed paint in the painting bays gradually built up on the tracks and skids that the car bodies were painted on. These layers were hardened repeatedly in the ovens that the car bodies went into to cure the paint. Some of these deeper layers were even baked 100 times. Eventually, the paint build-up would become too thick and had to be removed. As the story goes, some crafty workers with an eye for beauty realized that this unique byproduct was worth salvaging.

Sadly, the techniques that produced this great material years ago are no longer in practice. Cars are now painted by way of an electrostatic process that essentially magnetizes the enamels to the car bodies. This leaves little, or no overspray. The old factory methods that created this incredible material are long gone.

As you can see, both these visually rich stones can be crafted into almost anything you can imagine. Most artists and silversmiths who work with these mediums are happy to commission work honoring your special occasion. Copper, jasper, greenstone, and Leland bluestone are all also native to Michigan and can be made into stunning pieces.  The sky is the limit!

Images and info courtesy of  kewa.com, beckythatcherdesigns.com, etsy.com, wikipedia.com, fordite.com, tamragentrydesignstudio.com, galleryfifty.com, kayakbuilder.com, urbanrelicdesign.com