Distance is an Illusion

Distance is an Illusion

If one of us puts her toe in the ocean in the East, and one puts his toe in the ocean in the West,
​we will be touching from opposite sides of the world.

"Spotted Towhee" by Becky Matsubara is licensed under CC BY 2.0

"Eastern Towhee, f." by Kelly Colgan Azar is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
Design: a New York City subway token, carried by two Towhees: a male Western Spotted Towhee, and a female Eastern Towhee



For a family separated during the pandemic, it was my honor to create a gift that symbolizes connection. Living on opposite coasts of the United States and unable to continue their frequent visits, a son contacted me to make a Hanukkah gift for his mother. He had his heart set on a cuff bracelet, which can be a challenging surprise gift since my cuffs are rigid, not meant to be reshaped. Rather than worry about getting the size exactly right, we decided to turn the gift into a two-step interactive process.
We began with a discussion of symbolism and style, which brought me to sketch out a rough drawing for approval. (above, design shown "in the round" and laid out flat.)


I adjusted the cuff shape, and soldered the bezel to the cuff, polished it, and set the token


I chose to hammer set the token with a chisel punch so that the bezel would look like the edge of a coin. As I approached the inlay of the micro-mosaic, I received a final request to include the red eye of each towhee. I happened to have the perfect glass disc beads.

I again packaged the jewelry and sent it. A few days later, I received two notes...one from the East:
"It's here and it's amazing!!! The earrings were such a surprise. Thank you for making this beautiful gift for me!!!"

...and one from the West:
"Your talent in putting ideas together so quickly & in such meaningful ways is truly exquisite, not to mention crafting the stunning pieces themselves, also with such swiftness.
I know how blown away me & Shan were when we opened the 4th anniversary gift & so it was with my mom.
Got the tokens & lovely thoughtful card....working with you on these projects has been a huge bright spot in a sad & disorienting year!!
Thx again Courtney!
N & S" 

Thank you, N, S, & R, for allowing me to tell your story and create a lasting memory for your family. 

​This pandemic has taken so much from us, and yet I see creativity in the way we reach out to each other. Video chats become much more frequent when we can't be there in person. What would these times be like without technology? And what would they be without art, music, dance....? 

We don't have to imagine it. We have all these things at our fingertips.
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