Meet Stephanie Caplan
This is the wonder that's keeping
the stars apart
We loved collaborating on this bracelet with calligrapher Stephanie Caplan, who like us, is inspired by the idea of words and typography in art.
Up a few flights to Stephanie’s East Village apartment and city grit is history. Tones of earth and sea and sun give even more peace to rooms in which everything is just where it should be. “This is my calming ocean,” she says, looking at her perfectly appointed shelves. A car below honks angrily, but doesn’t foul up the scene at all. Stephanie is mostly a visual person.
It was through a song that Stephanie came to the e.e. cummings poem "[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]" that includes the phrase, “this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart.” “Michael Hedges, an alternative guitarist, did a version of this poem a song,” she says. “Then I found out it was e.e. cummings. I’ve used it over the years for ketubot as quotes. It’s a beautiful poem—perfect for weddings.”
Stephanie makes custom ketubot, the Jewish wedding contract that bride, groom and witnesses sign before the ceremony. Twenty years ago, when she was a decorative furniture painter and all-around “crafty chick,” friends asked her to make theirs. An interfaith couple, they couldn’t find a ketubah that was appropriate. It was a revelatory moment for Stephanie that set her on a course to study all aspects of the contract: text, design, and especially calligraphy. “I spent the summer teaching myself calligraphy and making up my own Hebrew font, studying different people’s lettering styles, deciding what I liked, and creating my own,” she says. When she needed some text to work with at a calligraphy workshop in Tuscany, e.e. cummings’ words came up again. “I know it as I know the lyrics to a song,” she says.
Since then she’s made thousands of ketubot, and has added home blessings and baby naming certificates to her “big life moments” artwork.
“…this is the wonder that’s keeping stars apart,” she reads, the words slithering around her delicate wrist. The bracelet, a birthday gift to herself, is 18k rose gold, giving it the more antique look that Stephanie prefers. We worked with Stephanie to make sure the words wrapped around her wrist perfectly—longer words were separated into two links. It had to fit comfortably; she wears it every day.
“It can be love,” she says of the line. “Which is often how it’s read. To me it also speaks to quantum mechanics, and the idea of the overlap between physics and philosophy, where we don’t know what’s out there; we don’t know what dark matter is, what’s in between the spaces—and it is mind-blowing wonder, in the actual sense of it. There’s also the element of the vastness of the universe, which to me can be God; the idea of atoms floating around in the universe, coming together in different ways is enough of a God reference for me. So that encompasses everything. It kind of is everything. And it’s all in one phrase.”