The Man and the Moon

CNet brings us a heart-warming story by Greeter Dan about the marriage at Burning Man of the guy who designed The Man this year.



Diamonds? Nah. Burning Man wedding ring holds a piece of the moon

Andrew Johnstone gave this 3D-printed ring — complete with an actual piece of the moon — to his new bride, Jeri Schneider.Andrew Johnstone

… the bar for rings is now literally out of the stratosphere.

Impressing your beloved with even a 5-carat diamond isn’t going to be easy.. after Oakland, Calif., artist Andrew Johnstone presented his new bride, Jeri Schneider, with a custom 3D-printed ring containing 0.32 gram of Tranquillityite. That’s real, honest-to-goodness moon rock for those of you keeping track at home.

… “It was the hardest secret I’ve ever had to keep,” he said.

Did she love it? The look of utter surprise and shock on her face when she saw it and understood what it was said yes. As she posted to Facebook, “Now, when someone says ‘look at the moon,’ I hold my hand in the air.”

Schneider reacts as she learns the provenance of the rock in her wedding ring.Daniel Terdiman/CNET

…Johnstone, a Scotsman by birth, was the lead designer on the Man, the 105-foot-tall, 70,000-pound icon at the literal center of the festival. The wedding itself was held almost at the foot of the Man and was attended by many Burning Man notables, including festival founder Larry Harvey.

Johnstone said that the spark for the ring came a year ago, when the platform underneath the 2013 Man — the effigy is burned near the end of each year’s event; then rebuilt the following year — contained a small piece of meteorite. After he and Schneider got engaged last December, he realized that because she’s a science teacher “and not a diamond girl” that “she would think a diamond was frivolous, and wasteful.”

The wedding, as photographed from a drone above the ceremony.Eric Cheng

Plus, Johnstone added, “As an artist, I can’t [just] buy a ring out of a tray…That’s not me.”

Fortunately, Johnstone still maintained a relationship with the meteorite dealer in Hawaii who’d sold him the stone for last year’s Man, and he began to think that perhaps using some sort of space rock might be the way to go. “He said he had five pieces of something extraordinary,” Johnstone recalled. “It was a piece of the moon, [known as] lunar regolith, that had fallen as a meteorite in Morocco in 2006.”

Next thing you know, Johnstone had his .32 grams of Tranquillityite — “one of the only samples of lunar regolith not owned by NASA.”

…the strong-yet-fragile stone needed to be protected, and he began envisioning the concept of an outreaching hand.

As an artist-in-residence at The Gate, a hub for technology, art and makers in San Leandro, Calif., Johnstone was already in contact with former jewelers Justin Kelly, Sarah Kelly and Rod Wagner, who run Mind2Matter, a 3D-printing company based out of The Gate. Together, they created a 3D mesh of the hand holding the rock, first using Sketchup, a consumer-grade modeling program, and then Maya, a professional tool. Finally, they printed the final product and had it cast in white gold. “Then they set the stone within that,” Johnstone said. 

Johnstone playing the bagpipes as he awaited the arrival of his bride-to-be. John Curley

After a set of vows from the couple’s two daughters — one from each of their previous marriages — they delivered their own vows. Right on cue as they kissed — “the pyro crew had somebody crouch down next to me with a radio,” Johnstone said, “and as soon as we kissed it was like ‘Go, go, go, go’ — a 30-second volley of fireworks went off behind the Man.

… To all that would hear her, she said, “Other guys promised me the moon. He gave it to me.”

Most in attendance were in tears. Some of Johnstone’s friends came up to him, and speaking about the wedding, and the ring in particular, told him, “Thanks a lot, you’ve f—-d it up for the lot of us.” Later, by phone, he recalled the two of them leaving a restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., and looking up at the moon in the sky. “She did a double-take,” Johnstone said wistfully. “Now whenever she sees the moon she’ll be reminded of how much I love her.”

Read the full story here.

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