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#TBT: Winds, Directions, and a Simple Clarity of Light

Dual Strand Four Directions Cuff Bracelet A Resized

Sometimes “simplest” is the most complex.

And it’s not only complexity per se: It’s depth; it’s meaning; it’s significance.

That was the case with today’s featured throwback, one of a series of three similarly-themed and -patterned cuff bracelets that Wings created back in 2009 or ’10.

We have a tendency, as humans, to divide things into stark binaries, and force them into opposition. And so complex becomes the opposite of simple, rather than a facet or an element of a larger whole.  But our cultures teach such complexity inherently; our peoples have always known that words have many meanings, and signifiers have many interpretations. Some cohere, mix and meld; some work in tandem or in parallel; some oppose each other; some do all and none and more. None of these is mutually exclusive to any of the others, yet mainstream instruction teaches us that they must be.

Wings has always known differently.

Some seven or eight years ago, he created a small collection, a series in miniature, of three dual-strand cuff bracelets evoking the imagery of the Four Sacred Directions. I suspect that the original choice to create them as he did was driven initially by the discovery of a particular kind of sterling silver wire in his inventory — not much, just enough to make a series of three simple cuffs. It was an unusual type of wire, sterling silver square wire of a relatively fine gauge, slender strands that looked delicate but were solid and extremely sturdy. While all the cuffs were created in roughly the same fashion, this one was the simplest . . . and to my mind, the most beautiful.

Its name was simple, too: To the Four Directions. It was a spare and elegant reminder of what protects us, a message of thanksgiving to the Four Sacred Directions and the spirits who inhabit and guard them.

It began with silver of four equidistant sides, the square wire cut into four separate lengths: two six-inch strands, and two one-inch strands. Wings laid all four out on his workbench, the two six-inch strands exactly parallel to each other, an inch apart; he then placed a one-inch strand between the longer ones at either end, connecting their ends together. He soldered these solidly into place at the corners, then filed them to a smooth and silken finish. Then he shaped the cuff gently on a mandrel, forming a pair of parallel arches connected at their ends in the same form. Buy the time he was finished, the band itself looked as though it had been crafted of a single unbroken strand.

Next, he took sheet silver of a remarkably heavy gauge for the style, and cut, freehand, a cross-like shape that in our cultures signifies the Four Sacred Directions (and/or, in some indigenous cultures, the Four Winds).

Dual Strand Four Directions Cuff Bracelet B Resized

I suspect that, initially, he had thoughts of adding stampwork and perhaps even a focal stone, but in the end, he left it plain — and rightly so, as it turns out. But cutting was only the first step; then he filed the edges smooth and beveled them ever so slightly for comfort. Finally, he soldered it into place, centered atop the twin strands of the cuff’s band.

At this point, he could still have reversed course and added stampwork or stones. Stampwork would have been a bit of a challenge, given that it was already soldered into place, but there are ways around such obstacles; a bezel and stone would have been, for him, relatively easy. Instead, he simply buffed it to a soft Florentine finish, one as gentle and clear and illuminating as the light itself.

If memory serves, I never got a chance to post this cuff on the old Web site; it sold almost immediately. I’m not surprised; it was remarkable in its clear, spare beauty. The person who purchased it obtained something else in the process: the chance to walk in the illuminating guidance of the winds, directions, and a simple clarity of light.

Sometimes the simplest things are the most complex . . . and the most powerful, too.

~ Aji








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