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#TBT: A World In Full Flower

Nine Stone Turquoise and Jade Cactus Blossom Earrings B

In this time of accelerating climate change, winter in this place seems more memory than reality. Oh, it gets cold enough at night; the dawn winds are bitter, and more frequently northeasterly. But as the calendar year draws to a close, the mercury rises near-daily to fifty and more.

At 7,500 feet above sea level, this is not winter.

Even the animals have acquired new [un]seasonal allergies; plants are in bloom now that should already be long dormant. Wings said the other day that it feels more like April than December, and he is right. But even in April, there is frost and morning dew.

This winter, the snow stubbornly resists falling, circling around to north or south or simply spinning out entirely before arrival.

The mountain has been injured by blasting and worse, violated by new construction in places never intended for commercial or collective occupation. In this place, as in so many others, the Earth is wounded, and her recovery is no sure thing.

It is not a healthy thing for the plant spirits to bloom out of season, particularly when it risks their ability to flower at the proper time. For us, perhaps, it is akin to the illness that struck the people in the old times, when they had drifted from the good road and abandoned their responsibilities and Spirit withheld the healing gift of sleep untroubled by nightmares. The people became both unable to sleep and afraid to try, and their health suffered for it; some died. It took a young mother in fear for her child’s life, willing to heed the spirit we call Grandmother Spider, to learn (and teach) the way back to health for the people.

Now, it is our Mother caught in the throes of an ongoing nightmare, but through no fault of her own. Once again, it is the people who have fallen from the way, but now it is our whole world who suffers.

In the coming year, it will be humanity’s task to restore her to health, a world in full flower in the appointed seasons.

It’s a task that brought to mind, on this day, one of Wings’s works from about a decade ago, a pair of earrings that sold, if memory serves, in 2008. They were simple, traditional . . . and to me, the perfect example of an Earth in health and harmony, one flowering as designed and intended.

Very often, Wings’s work begins with the silver, and not the stone; a given design might be susceptible to any of a number of different stones, different colors and shapes and sizes. In this case, however, it began definitively with the stones, plural — all eighteen of them.

Knowing how Wings approaches his work, I can say with some assurance that in this instance, he chose the two focal stones first. They were unusual in and of themselves: fairly good-sized, high-domed oval cabochons of what I initially thought were green Kingman turquoise. Most Kingman ranges from robin’s-egg to sky blue — the green, which typically manifests in a soft seafoam shade, is less common — but whatever the color of the stone, one of the fairly consistent indicators is the white matrix. Much of the host rock in which Kingman is found has always been a chalky, off-white color, one that manifests occasionally as spidering lines, but more often as small chips and patches throughout the vein.

Upon closer inspection, however, this pair — matched, and clearly from the same deposit — held something beyond the seafoam color and patchy white matrix. In the image above, it’s more visible in the earring on the left, but both cabochons were speckled, much like a hen’s egg, with tiny reddish-brown dots — bits of the siltstone matrix common to Bisbee turquoise, where the green is even more rare. A pair of green Bisbee stones veined with white and dotted with red earth? They made me think of the Earth herself, lush, soft, and gently green, white water running through her veins, bits of red earth emerging like small peaks and outcroppings.

He began by placing them side by side on the silver, a few inches apart, to mark the center of each drop, the center of what, in the traditional style, would become the blossom. Then he arrayed the chosen “petals” around the center stones, in this instance, a collection of small oval jade cabochons, a wholly different kind of green. By the time he was done with placement, the total became nine “petals” per “blossom”: top and bottom placed vertically, the remaining six arrayed three to a side moving around the vertical arc of each center stone.

Then, very quickly, he drew the outer bounds of each earring, freehand, around the jade petals: most of the visible part of the earring slightly inside the edges of the stones, but curving outward beneath each jade “petal” so that every small cabochon would be securely backed. Then he swept the stones aside and cut the settings out freehand.

Once the settings were cut out, the next step was crafting the bezels. He chose to design them with saw-toothed bezels, which not only hold cabochons securely but also, with stones such as these (mostly solid color, very little matrix, a distinctly un-busy pattern), they limn the cabochons much like the edges of natural flower petals, highlighting their appearance and making them seem to pop open, so to speak. He soldered vertical oval bezels into place to hold the large turquoise cabochons, then set smaller oval bezels around them at the edges, one by one, for a grand total of eighteen separate settings, nine per earrings. Then, he soldered a jump ring to the upper edge of the back of each earring in the center; these would hold the earrings wires. Next he oxidized the backings between each bezel and buffed them to a soft Florentine finish. Finally, he set the center stones, then set the “petal” stones, and lastly, attached the wires.

The result was a pair of perfectly balanced “blossoms,” their “petals” soft and bright and full of life. They whispered of good health and harmony, of a good way of living and a world in full flower in the appointed season.

It’s a good goal for the year to come.

~ Aji

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All content, including photos and text, are copyright Wings and Aji, 2017; all rights reserved. Nothing herein may used or reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the owners.

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error: All content copyright Wings & Aji; all rights reserved. Copying or any other use prohibited without the express written consent of the owners.