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#TBT: Hearts Aglow

Silver Teardrop Heart Earrings Resized

For the outside world, this is the season of love, a time of romance and hearts aflame. I’ve written here in years past about the origins of Valentine’s Day and how the modern understanding departs significantly from its roots. There are commonalities, too, of course, and there is, of course, one very obvious reason for combining date and saint and love all in one celebration.

February, for much of the world, is cold.

It’s also the trailing edge of winter, although in many regions like our own, an ordinary year would see at least two more months of steady snow and subfreezing temperatures. But by now, everyone is tired of winter, tired of the cold, tired of gray skies and a grayer land.

People want warmth and passion, and what better way to secure both than via a little celebration of romance?

It brought to mind today’s featured work, a pair of earrings that Wings created some nine or ten years ago. He designed a small series in similar fashion: big, bold sterling silver earrings in the shape of stylized, elongated hearts with open centers. And with these, the emphasis in “elongated” was on long: They hung some three and a half to four inches long.

It began, as always, with the silver — sheet silver, in this case, light enough not to weigh down the wearer’s ears unduly, yet substantial enough to hold their shape without risk of bending. He took a standard heart shape and stretched the lower point so that the earrings were roughly twice as long as they would normally have been, then cut them freehand.

About 3/8 of an inch inward from the edge of each earring, he sketched a second, nested heart. Then he chose a single stamp, one in the form of a narrow, elongated triangle; it’s one that can be used to create lodge symbols or arrowheads, but most often, he uses it to create the effect of rays of light. Such was the case here: He chased it all the way around the edge of the inner heart, base against the line and point aimed outward toward the earring’s edge.

At this point, the effect was interesting, and it was just possible to begin to visualize the form the earrings would ultimately take, but it was nowhere near complete.

Next, Wings pierced the interior of the inner hearts, and using a tiny jeweler’s saw, cut away the silver, ajouré-fashion. He does all of his saw-work freehand, and it’s time-consuming, requiring patience and a meticulous attention to detail; it’s very easy for the blade to slip the tiniest bit, and a cut mere millimeters beyond where it should will destroy a design completely.

Once the center hearts were fully excised, he filed the edges and filed and beveled the outer edges for smoothness. Then he chose a length of fine-gauge twisted silver and gently bent it into place all along the inner edge of the earrings, soldering it carefully into place. The twisted silver was just heavy enough to stretch from the inner edge of each earring to just over the base of each stamped symbol, creating the impression that the rays emerged from behind and within the silver. The effect was one of hearts aglow, illuminated from within by love’s own light.

Finally, Wings punched a tiny hoop in the top center of each drop, oxidized stampwork and twisted silver, and buffed them to a smooth high polish. Last of all he took two lengths of solid fine-gauge sterling silver wire and hand-formed them into the classic hook shape of earring wires, feeding them through the holes at the top.

Given their size, the earrings looked as though they would be extraordinarily heavy. They weren’t. They were, however, solid; unlike long dangly earrings made of very lightweight sheet silver, it would have taken a great deal of force to bend them out of shape. They hung from the ear perfectly, facing forward and yet seeming to dance: to dance both in the reflected light of the outside world, and in the inner light radiated by a pair of hearts aglow.

~ Aji











All content, including photos and text, are copyright Wings and Aji, 2018; 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.