When So Lucky came out, I did a brief regional tour, including Portland. After a reading at Powell’s Kelley and I went out for a drink with Wendy Neathery-Wise, who made my Anglo-Saxon bronze bird brooch. Over cocktails, and then more cocktails, we talked of many things, including live shows. Eventually we got to Eddie Izzard and how much I love his “Cake or death?” sketch for its pure, foolish Englishness.

We switched to beer, and the conversation moved on to other things, eventually circling back to metal-smithing. Apparently she wanted to tackle a ring design based on a ninth-century rune ring. Given that the runes on said rings spell out charms, or religious messages, or simple statements of ownership, she was a bit stumped as to what the runes on her ring should say. “Easy!” I said, with the confidence of the well-lubricated. “Cake or Death!”

I thought no more of it until this summer when Wendy emailed me to say she’d made the rings—in silver, bronze, and copper—and did I want one? I don’t wear rings, except for my wedding rings, but I showed Kelley the link to Wendy’s Etsy page, and she thought they looked fab.

Three chunky metal rings, in copper, silver, and bronze, on a black background

Cake or Death?

She chose one in copper, and wears it a lot and finds it both reassuringly weighty and comfortable. Here’s what Wendy has to say about the rings on Facebook:

These say “Cake or Death” in Anglo-Saxon runes. The idea was given to me by Nicola Griffith, who was inspired by Eddie Izzard’s sketch. The translation I used is the OE, “foca oððe deað” put into runes.  The ring design is from this 9th century Kentish find that’s in the British Museum.  I liked the beading and divisions between letters.

And from her Etsy page:

The master waxes were carved by hand. They are cast in your choice of bronze, recycled copper or Sterling silver.

Side note: If you you are the type that thinks your genetics are somehow superior to another’s and want to use things that you think are your ancestral right (like runes and symbols) to oppress other people, DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FROM ME. I have no tolerance for racists, especially who twist history to justify their racist attitudes.

So if  you’re looking for an unusual gift from a right-thinking woman, go take a look at Wendy’s stuff.