My story starts with a ten-year dream of building a business with my son
in the culinary industry. We had finally opened our Italian cuisine mobile
restaurant, and after only one and a half years we experienced an overnight
propane leak. The food trailer exploded with my son inside, and me at the
door entrance. Ryan suffered thirty percent body burns and me, forty
After a lengthy stay in the hospital and many more months recuperating at
home, I decided to use rock cutting and polishing as healing therapy. I be-
came interested in lapidary many years ago, always marveling at the
beautiful qualities of the many finished stones I saw while traveling and
working with Holly in the jewelry trade.
Sitting at my bench, behind the lapidary machine, I am able to escape the horrors of the last year. The memories of the accident and the physical pain of my burns, all melt away as I become narrowly focused on the stone I am working on. It is just me, the machine, and the rock in my hands. For me, cabbing is meditative and Zen-like.
For bad or good, the burn accident and all of its consequences, has afforded me the time needed to throw myself into a new path in life. Working in lapidary has given my post-accident life purpose and meaning. Cutting cabochons is a process of beginning with a rough piece of stone with its beauty hidden, and ending with something beautiful to look at, and to share with others.
In collaboration with my wife Holly Gage, our Warrior Scar Jewelry line is our way of sharing our story of survival with others. The idea came when I was well enough for Holly to replicate a portion of my scars and craft me a Warrior Scar Pendant.
Artfully capturing my scars in silver, the process was painless, and it cast my scars in a new light. It tells the story of my experience of beating incredible odds, while honoring my journey in a crafted jewelry piece, thoughtfully inscribed on the reverse with words from Holly’s heart.
Now we are doing the same for others. Many of the pieces combine the gem and stone cabochons that I have cut and polished in my art therapy, with Holly’s beautiful silver art jewelry designs. We hope to share these very personal creations with the burn community specifically, and also the trauma community, in an effort to help survivors tell their story with hope, strength, and pride.