Ashes and Rust

March 18, 2008

Today I have a Temperance story for the week of the Full Moon and the Vernal Equinox.  In the Ironwing Tarot, the Temperance card is titled “Quench” and shows a newly-forged iron bowl being cooled in water, creating steam that melts the overhanging melting icicles.  It is an image of completion, consecration, and all the contrasting elements that create a mysterious organic union of iron and oil.

The day after last month’s lunar eclipse, I got an e-mail from a customer who had bought one of my triple cone bell pendants and a custom-order bell a few years ago.  The bell has a very large clapper that is a substantial bell in itself, and I have not made another one like it.  My customer used and enjoyed the bells for several years.  Then her house burned to the ground.  She was able to find the bells but was afraid they were permanently damaged, and was writing to ask if I could do anything with them.  Of course I told her to send them back – I was very honored that she had salvaged them and still liked them enough to want them fixed!  I had expected the iron to be weakened, deformed, or even partly burned, but when the package arrived, I saw that the big bell was merely coated with rust and ashes.  It was easily cleaned up with a wire brush.  The small bells were clogged with ashes and bits of melted plastic that quickly vanished when I put them in the forge.  After polishing, everything was returned to the forge, quenched in oil, and good as new!  I added a new copper spiral to the pendant, and added a chain and miniature bell to replace the heavy coiled hook (which I’d never liked much) on the bell.  Here are the burned, rusty bells before rehabilitation:

burned bells

Here are the refinished bells, ready to go home (they’ll have a nice bag, too):

triple bell pendant
big bell with miniature

I thought of the Temperance card on Sunday while I quenched and blackened the bells in oil as sleet rattled on the roof – a late winter storm brought snow to the mountains and a bit of rain to encourage the desert wildflowers.


5 Responses to “Ashes and Rust”

  1. Debbie said

    Such lovely pieces – even rusted they look beautiful. And the copper added to them adds some of the warmth of the fire that they went through..

  2. What a great story about positive fire and destructive fire. The impetus to bring things back to life is why people strip old furniture and remodel houses, but to find yourself saving your own artwork must be very gratifying.

    Is it me, or does that miniature bell in the photograph look like a fox’s head? See the eyes, ears and nose?

    Sure you do, come on!

  3. Debra said

    That’s my birthday, and temperance is among my challenges, so this is especially moving.

  4. mybloomnart said

    What an amazing transformation. I bet she is one very pleased customer!

  5. January, 2010, has past and March is arriving soon – though the weather feels as if it is already here.
    Only now have I seen this beautiful and moving account of the bells you made and restored for me, Lorena! My friend Sally drew me to it. It is quite auspicious that at the time the bells were being restored there was also sleet on the roof, snow in the mountains and rain in the desert ~ as if the memories within the bells were releasing the event of the fire, which occured in the very early morning hours of a cold January with deep snow!

    Tempering? Absolutely! To stand present to ones Life and witness, totally awake and calm, the transformation by fire is indeed tempering!

    Ring the bells! Life is in the moment, always ~ as powerful, as subdued, as beautiful as we want it to be!! Onward ~ and thank you!!

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