I've been a certified literary braille transcriber since 2010. All my braille pieces are correctly sized and spaced, and done in Grade 2 literary braille. This means it's contracted, and is not simply letters translated into bumps. 

As a sighted artist, I think it's imperative that if I am going to include braille in my designs, it be accurate and functional for tactile readers. Braille is beautiful to both touch and sight, and I enjoy getting to highlight it in my work. I hope my customers who use or are familiar with braille will enjoy having a correct, functional piece, and those that are new to braille enjoy understanding it better.

Grade 2 braille uses contractions, meaning certain letter combinations or even words have their own combination of braille dots within a cell. Further, the same braille cell pattern can have a different meaning depending on where in a word it falls. For example, one symbol is simultaneously an opening quotation mark, a question mark, or the word 'his' depending on whether it falls at the beginning of a word, end of a word, or stands alone, respectively.

I love that cleverness, and the way braille focuses on saving space when having a limited number of 6-dot combinations available to it. It also makes it feel a little magical - half secret code to those not in the know. I love having a physical touchstone for a favorite quote or word, and keeping it with me without necessarily broadcasting the meaning widely.



Most of the stones I use are lab-grown. These are chemically the same as mined stones, but the process is better both for the environment and for the workers involved. And honestly, it's a neat combination of nature and science that makes my geeky heart beat faster.  (Fellow science nerds: I recommend googling "Verneuil process" and "Czochralski method". Cool stuff.) And, bonus, they tend to be less expensive. It's wins all around, in my book.

There are exceptions where I use mined stones in my work (mostly opals), but my gems will be labeled as mined or lab-grown in their listings.