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Spirits to Carry the World Into Winter

Week’s end births a new week, and we have come full circle: back to the horse, in company now with a small wingéd spirit.

This morning looks like mid-November, even if the mercury is still on track to rise a bit too high. White clouds that trailed around the horizon at dawn, the departing manes and mare’s tails of the Dawn Horse carrying away the night, have now moved overhead so that the sky is less blue than a pale dove gray. Our night birds now are not the hummingbirds of a summer’s evening, but chickadee and finch and hawk on the hunt.

And still, horse and bird alike are spirits to carry the world into winter, even as they carry us out its other side into warmer winds.

Today’s featured work, one of Wings’s more recent major pieces, embodies both spirits. Wrought entirely in the cool pale silver of winter, it nonetheless also carries upon it the symbols of warmth and renewal, from the cold clear light before the dawn to the softly fluttering winds that usher in the dusk. We begin, as does the day, with the spirit of the early hours, still dark, but the light already more than a promise. From its description in the Necklaces Gallery here on the site:

The Dawn Horse and the Night Bird Necklace

The Dawn Horse and the Night Bird are spirits of air and sky, medicine beings here to guide us and protect us on the path throughout our days. Wings summons both spirits onto a miniature medicine shield: a big, bold, beautiful necklace that is wearable art and protective amulet simultaneously. The shield is cut freehand from sterling silver of a substantial gauge, arcing to follow the shape of the sky. Across the center between two hand-stamped Morning Stars races the Dawn Horse, an Indian paint pony stretched in full gallop, his spirited tail flying free behind him. The horse is cut freehand of sterling silver, hand-stamped to delineate features and pinto coat, then overlaid securely. Blossoms edge the perimeter like rays of morning light, with a single hand-stamped in each corner. On the reverse, the Night Bird, of the Hummingbird Clan, hovers in mid-air to drink from a night-blooming flower. Hummingbird and flower are both cut freehand from sterling silver; the little bird’s bill, features, and feathers are brought into focus via hand stampwork, the flower’s delicate petals, vine-like stalk, and tiny leaves are cut freehand of a single piece, hand-stamped, and overlaid opposite the hummingbird. The shield’s reverse is edged on all sides with hand-stamped crescent moons, signifying the glow of night. Atop the shield is a hand-wrought bail hand-stamped in a simple directional-arrow design. The pendant hangs suspended from a glowing strand of sterling silver beads burnished to an aged patina. Pendant hangs 2.5″ long from top of bail to center bottom of shield; ends of shield are 1-7/8″ long; pendant is 3.5″ across; beads are 20″ long (dimensions approximate). Reverse of full necklace, plus close-up views of front and reverse of pendant, shown above and below.

Sterling silver
$2,225 + shipping, handling, and insurance

A shield necklace of this type would be spectacular enough only as shown above — the stampwork, the saw-work, the horse overlay, the beads. But unlike most such works, this one is reversible. And on the back, the Night Bird, pollinating the world anew:

This, too, is an overlay, and it is nothing short of amazing. It was wrought in three separate pieces — bird, blossom, and stem — and bringing it together seamlessly required no small amount of patience and attention to detail, to say nothing of skill, experience, and raw talent.

The blossom is one from a milled piece, a stylized wildflower design produced by sending the silver through a rolling mill over the pattern, the mill cranked by hand. Wings will occasionally mill a piece of silver in a given design before cutting and shaping it. Subsequently excising the piece from the surrounding silver leaves a bit of scrap behind that holds the same pattern. One such scrap contained, on a relatively substantial thickness of silver, a perfect flower image in a medium size. Wings cut the flower out by hand with a jeweler’s saw and set it aside. He then took a clean piece of silver and drew, freehand, a long slender stem dancing gracefully upward, adorned here and there by small hand-stamped leaves. This he cut freehand, too, and placed the two together, blossom atop stem, on one side of the shield, then soldered both conjoined pieces carefully into place. He then centered the hummingbird, similar saw-cut and stamped freehand, over the remaining expanse of the shield, so that the point of its beak just met the petals. He soldered this meticulously into place.

The result was a perfect representation of the small spirits of warmer winds, of renewal and rebirth, with a clear sense of motion and direction.

Together, the two sides speak of a holistic earth: dawn and dusk, day and night, winter and summer, earth and sky.

These are spirits with a message, a lesson, a hope and promise too: to carry our world into winter, and out the other side into spring.

~ Aji








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