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#TBT: Earth Dreams and Autumn Nights

Dust of a Blue Moon Series Earrings

It is pouring, again. Late last night, and overnight, wave after wave of storms rolled through, leaving a steamy, too-warm dawn in their wake. After a morning of rain and an afternoon of cosmic indecision, the heavy weather returned at dusk in the form of more rolling waves of heavy thunderstorms.

This is not our usual October weather; these are not our usual October skies.

With climate change now firmly entrenched, all bets are off.

To find an ordinary autumn, we would really need to go back as far as 2012. Every year since has had its oddities, some more noticeable than others. None, however, included days’ worth storms in the indigo hours, much less overnight, in October — the one month that, in this place, has always been a model of clarity and light.

Now the light is taking other forms.

We used to say that rare occurrences were events seen only “once in a blue moon.” Now that “rare” is no longer so rare, only unpredictable, the notion of blue moons holds less resonance in that regard. To me, however, the metaphor has always also been one that, despite its color, has seemed to belong squarely within the brackets of fall, one symbolic of ethereal dances and haunting light, of earth dreams and autumn nights.

And it’s a concept that finds expression in today’s featured work, a throwback to the not-at-all-distant past — indeed, only to the earliest days of August.

Its genesis is older than that by several months, however.

The earrings pictured above were a commissioned work, one created specifically for a dear friend who has a number of Wings’s pieces, man y of them com elementary, if not precisely matching. Some time ago, she asked him to design a new cuff for her, one that might reflect the symbology of the moon that is important to her personally. Wings had only recently acquired some new cabochons from an Australian gemcutter, two of which were fabulously large near-crescents of lapis lazuli in an unusually rich and creamy cobalt blue.  The largest was too large for her purposes, suitable only to something truly enormous in size, such as an outsized pendant or belt buckle. The other one was large also, but suitable for a cuff bracelet. I took photos of it and sent them to her, and she fell in love with it immediately.

I had passed along our friend’s preferences to Wings, and he set about designing a cuff that in the end would incorporate the lapis crescent and several moonstones scattered up and down its length. The result was a truly spectacular cuff entitled Dust of a Blue Moon.

The cuff was a hit; indeed, our friend was so taken with the design and the symbolized infused into it that she asked him to create some other pieces to complement it — not an exact match, but in a similar vein. He has at least one more item to produce in the series, but in early August, he completed both a pendant and a pair of earrings to her specifications . . . the earrings shown above.

She loved the idea of alternating lapis and moonstones again, but felt that perhaps the focus should be on the moonstone for the earrings, with it and lapis as accents. He could have created them with round moonstones, to take the form of a full moon, but she liked the idea of — as with her cuff — a mix of moon phases and colors. I set about hunting down cabochons in other shapes, and found a supplier in India who, among other specialties, cuts Indian rainbow moonstones into crescents. We snapped them up, and Wings went to work.

For calibrated cabochons (i.e., those that are mass-priced to a given standardized shape and size), it’s easy to find ready-made bezels. For unusual shapes and sizes, bezels must be made entirely by hand. Wings fashioned these out of saw-toothed sterling silver wire, soldered onto silver backings cut in the shape of the stones. The crescent shape was a bit of a challenge to produce; bezels need to be form-fitting, but a crescent shape tends to try to spring back into a vaguer form, and so it took a c careful balancing between weight of silver and tightness of fit and manually forcing them into shape. Once they were soldered onto the bezels, he turned his attention to the “moondust.”

Our friend wanted the stones to alternate, and also to dangle effectively. If bezel-set stones are attached to each other solely with jump rings, the longer the cascade, the less likely it is to hang properly. Wings didn’t want the dangles to turn and twist; he wanted them to face forward, so that while they danced around her head in their tiny orbits, the stones would always face forward and remain visible.

The solution was sterling silver bead wire.

It’s possible to buy sterling silver wire now in a host of gauges, patterns, and shapes. One variant, known as bead wire, is molded on top like rounded sterling silver beads, to give the appearance of individual beads soldered together. But there is a subvariant that, while it is molded in the round outline common to beads, is flat on top rather than domed. At a glance, it resembles beads, but its very flatness made it suitable for soldering three small round bezels to its surface. He cut two lengths of the wire, then set the bezels at either end and in the center, with roughly two “beads” separating each bezel. Then he soldered one jump ring to the bottom of each present-shaped bezel, one to the bezel atop the strand of wire, and strung the two rings together. All that remained was to solder the posts onto the back of the anchor stones’ settings, and then to set the stones: moonstone crescents in the anchor position; small round lapis at the top of the dangle; small round moonstone in the center; and another small round lapis at the end. The effect was simultaneously of phases of the moon, and of a crescent moon turning away in orbit, spinning off bits of moondust.

They became the second work in the Dust of a Blue Moon series, a matched pair in their own blue moon dance.

Their progenitor was a product of winter and spring; these were conceived in spring and produced in summer. But now, as autumn settles in — in rare form and a whole new way — they seem perfectly suited to the feel of this time, one of visionary worlds and cosmic dances. They are the dust not only of a blue moon, but of earth dreams and autumn nights.

~ 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.