Local artisan skilled at rice writing

Heather Latter

In school, she often was chastised for writing too small.
But that skill has paid off for local artisan Jocelyn Matheson, who now is making jewellery containing grains of rice that she inscribes messages or names on.
Having seen rice jewellery at several different events, such as festivals and fairs, Matheson thought it was something she’d like to try.
She also has a passion for making jewellery, which began when she was about five years old.
“I just thought it was very unique,” Matheson reasoned, noting she decided to try it out last fall and ordered a rice-writing kit online.
“It was difficult at first,” she admitted. “Everyone can do it, but you have to practice to become skilled at it.
“Luckily, I was blessed with good vision and penmanship,” Matheson added, noting due to her naturally small printing, she thinks rice writing is something she was born to do.
Rice writing originated in ancient Anatolia and India, with artisans who were skilled in making miniature paintings turning their skill to making art with rice—an ancient symbol of prosperity.
Over time, rice writing evolved into rice jewellery, where the rice grain is enclosed in a vial with oil that magnifies the individual grain making it easier read.
This is what Matheson taught herself to do.
“The kit I ordered was supposed to come within an instructional DVD, but it didn’t so I just researched it and started practising,” she explained.
“And I just love it—it appeals to everyone,” she enthused, adding she’s had customers from aged nine to 90.
“It’s just a really personal gift.”
Matheson said while rice is a symbol of good fortune, a single grain also can be a metaphor for one individual.
“People like giving it as a gift because they connect to it and cherish it,” she remarked, noting she’s been told by customers that the jewellery will become family heirlooms.
The jewellery is not only unique because of the names or messages on the rice, but all other aspects can be customized, too.
Matheson has 30 different vials to choose from, four colours of oil, and 14 colours of micro-marbles, and offers the choice to include a real dry miniature rose.
“No two will ever be the same. Each is a handmade unique creation,” she stressed.
The customer then must decide on the names or message that Matheson will write on the rice. Each piece can include up to four grains of rice, with as many as 10 characters written on each side.
She indicated some people have used their children’s names, or their own name. Others have used it as a birth necklace, including the baby’s name, birth date, and weight.
“Or you could choose a message like ‘I love you’ or ‘Happy Birthday,’” said Matheson.
“It can say whatever you want.”
Once the customer has made all their choices, it’s time for Matheson to get to work. A grain of rice is selected and positioned into a piece of clay so it won’t move as Matheson begins to write.
She uses a special pen, with a 0.13 mm tip.
“It’s like a needle,” she explained.
Often without even using a magnifying glass, Matheson prints the words onto the rice and lets it dry.
Then she puts it into the vial, fills it with the oil and decorations, puts a Styrofoam plug in the top, and places the lid on.
The vials can be attached to a necklace, bracelet, keychain, or cellphone charm.
Matheson can complete the process in about 10 minutes while the customer waits.
They start at $20, with an extra $2 for more than four names and $10 more for a silver chain.
Matheson has received plenty of positive feedback and so far has been doing well just my word of mouth.
She plans to continue with her passion of jewellery-making, and just arrived at Algonquin College in Ottawa this week to take a silver jewellery course for two months.
She then plans to return to the district to sell her rice jewellery and other handmade accessories—most likely near the Fort Frances Museum on Scott Street.
“I aspire to have my own display somewhere,” she remarked. “I really want to make jewellery as a career.”
For more information, contact Matheson at truffala_trees@hotmail.com