Malcom Esping was born into a Swedish-America family near Lindsborg Kansas in 1916. His family were farmers and blacksmiths. He developed superior metal working skills and started making sterling silver wedding crowns. He allowed several women to apprentice under him and in 1984 he was employed under a Kansas Folkart Apprenticeship Grant to teach two women who were members of his extended family the skills he had aquired. Marlysue Holmquist of Smolan KS. and Mardel Esping of Kansas City MO. were both taught the stories, techniques and methods of making wedding crowns and silja pins. Marlysue Holmquist says she especially enjoyed the stories and mythology that her uncle told while instructing her in the arcane part of jewlery making. "Using ear wax instead of purchased flux " came from a Swedish jewlery aquaintence Malcom met years ago.
SWEDISH WEDDING CROWNS are a head piece worn by a bride at her wedding. They are made of various materials.The materials were detemined by the wealth of the bride and grooms parents. Most church parishes had several wedding crowns for the members of their congregations to use. Some were made of brass, some of silver and some of gold. There were also some that consisted of flowers and vines woven together and attached to the brides hair. It is told that the bride and groom would dance after the ceremony until the brides wedding crown fell off. There do seem to be several cast brass wedding crowns in museums that have dents and dings in the metal.

According to Malcom Esping the churchs in Sweden required that those women who wished to borrow the churches wedding crown must be virgins. A woman was required to swear before the church leaders that she was a virgin before the church would allow her to wear the church wedding crown. He said that in some church parishes the crowns have not been worn for a hundred years. He also said that this sworn oath of virginity was one of the reasons that he had developed such a good business in making wedding crowns. He didn't require any such oath.

The black and white photo is a typical design of the style that Malcom Esping produced. The heart would have a keepsake attached in the middle. Made of sterling silver with culturaled pearls on the points and a band of silver for engraving the wedding date at the bottom.

Mardel Esping added lily of the valley leaf forms with a small stem of silver to this design. The bridal photo is of a gold crown Mardel made with the lily of the valley leaves and additional pearls for the lily blossoms.




Back to Folk Arts