In 1973 I was seven years old, and Roger Waters wrote the lyrics to "Time" for the album Dark Side of the Moon. Not only did "Time" become my favorite song as I grew older, but the words took on an especially profound meaning for me as I was turning forty-eight - the age my father was when he passed away...
"And then one day you find ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.
And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking, racing around to come up behind you again. The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older, shorter of breath and one day closer to death" ~ Pink Floyd
It was around this time that I started to realize how much of a gift each new day was, and I began to take a real interest in Memento Mori objects - reminders that death is waiting, so stop wasting time and start living your life. I started to collect small art objects with skull themes, and began to work skulls into my EDC ("everyday carry") rotation. When my 14 year old son taught me how to use 3D modeling software, I began to design and CNC mill my own Memento Mori and Carpe Diem EDC themed pieces.
My first design was my original Carpe Diem Coin. I wanted a challenge coin that could easily be carried and given away to friends and family, that would remind the holder that time is fleeting, that death waits at the end for all of us, and that it is important to make the most of every day. I designed the front ("obverse") side of the coin with a skull to represent death, with an escapement gear (found in all mechanical clocks and watches) in the forehead of the skull to represent the passing of time. "Time Flies" was becoming more of a reality every day as I approached 50 years of age. "Death Waits" was my very real, although grim reminder that at the end of all my uncertain days alive, there is only the certainty of death.
The back ("reverse") side of my original Carpe Diem Coin had a simple message: "Carpe Diem" which means "Seize the Day," and "Make Your Life Extraordinary." Make the most of every day you have. Work hard, but play hard. Do good for others not as fortunate as you. Be present in the lives of friends and family.
My original Carpe Diem Coin was 3D printed in bronze steel in small batches. I sold many of these coins over the past couple of years, and gave away many more.
For my first Kickstarter Campaign, I re-introduced a newly designed Carpe Diem Coin, which I had professionally minted from custom engraved dies. The obverse has my original skull design re-worked with more detail to represent death, and the escapement gear, hourglasses and an hour / minute track, to represent the passing of time. I decided to use latin for the text on the new coins: "TEMPUS FUGIT" for "Time Flies," and "MEMENTO MORI" for "Remember Death." The reverse shows a "tree of life" with the words "CARPE DIEM" for "Seize the Day." Surrounding the tree of life are the words "FAC VITAM INCREDIBILEM" for "Make an Incredible Life," and "MEMENTO VIVERE" for "Remember to Live." These two sayings are separated by roses, a subtle suggestion to take time to stop and smell the roses.
My next design was a derivative of the Carpe Diem Coin, which I call the Tempus Fugit Curio. It is simply the skull and escapement gear from the Carpe Diem Coin, as a pocket carry piece - a "worry stone". The phrase "Tempus Fugit," or “Time Flies,” becomes more salient the older we get. I designed and milled the original “Tempus Fugit Curio” out of brass, to carry as a personal daily reminder to enjoy the moment - to take time out of my busy schedule to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of life. The skull is an obvious representation of pending death, while the escapement gear, represents the passing of time.
Next, I wanted to focus on the Memento Mori theme - "Remember Death."
Years ago during a visit to New York City’s Metropolitan Museum I became fascinated with a Memento Mori rosary on display from the early 1500s. Each of the memento mori beads at the ends has a human face on one side that is stripped of its flesh on the other, while some of the rosary beads show a fashionably dressed figure on one side and a skeleton on the other. The meaning behind the beads? Even though we usually feel safe, even immortal at times, don’t forget that some day you are going to die.
To represent this idea in a piece of art, I 3D-modeled what looks to be a secure, iron-clad, riveted box, with a skull peering out through a broken area. I milled the original piece from a block of brass on my desktop milling machine.
When I shared photos of my Memento Mori piece on Instagram (@jwirth66), I had many requests to produce them in a size that could be easily carried as a "worry stone," so I designed the Memento Mori Stones.
My hope is that one of my Carpe Diem EDC pieces will end up in your pocket, and will be a continual reminder for you to stop and relish the moment you are in, to see and hear beauty in your daily surroundings, and to make the most of every single day.
Thank you for your support!