RING:  Ogun as a Silver Miner

RING: Ogun as a Silver Miner

 

Ogun as a Silver Miner is a forged sterling silver ring that pairs a rusted 19th century handforged horseshoe nail with a natural goethite pebble set in a fine silver bezel.  Goethite is an iron ore and is also one of the iron oxide constituents of rust.  This shiny dark brown metallic pebble is a ventifact (naturally wind-polished stone) with a pitted surface that shows the rough image of a man’s face in three-quarter view (more obvious in person, but I’ve tried to capture it in the pictures – this was a very difficult object to photograph).  The ring is about size 6.5 and is slightly adjustable.  Due to the flat back on the stone setting, it isn’t completely circular, so sizing isn’t as exact as it would be for a circular band.  The nail is exactly one inch long and is securely held in the two tapered “claws”.  The bezel and the outer surface of the ring were given a subtle hammer texture with a small dapping punch.  The back of the bezel cup is bur-textured with tiny irregular dots.  This is a fairly heavy ring, but the inside of the shank is beveled and polished smooth for a comfortable fit.

I collected the goethite pebble in 1999 in southeastern Wyoming.  Ventifact-hunting was one of our favorite pastimes when we lived in Cheyenne.  I found the nail a few years ago on one of our hikes in the southeastern Arizona mountains.  I’m not a big user of “found objects” but the petite size and interesting shape made this one irresistible.

Ogun is usually associated with blacksmithing but oversees metalworking in general.  When I found the pebble, it seemed obvious that this was his face, since it was carved by windblown dust on iron ore.  The nail or spike is one of his symbols.  I was going to call this “Ogun as a Geologist” but once the ring was assembled, I realized that he could also be a miner or silversmith.  The ring honors Ogun in his benign capacity as a creative metalworker and a guardian of the knowledge of metal ores.  It also represents the powerful fiery/windy energy of the Summer Solstice, grounded in the earthy creativity of the Dark Moon that follows it.  Water has been here too (it precpitated the goethite in the pebble and is still locked within its structure, and it corroded the nail) but it is gone for the moment, present only as a reflection in the silver.

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These hair pins are made of 14-gauge hammered black steel wire and are 2.5 inches to 3.25 inches long.  The tops were flattened and given a subtle hammer texture with a dapping punch.  The finished pins were heated in the forge to give them a uniform dark gray color, then rubbed very lightly with peanut oil and carefully dried with a paper towel.  The flower-shaped pins are intended to hold a knot of hair and are easier to hold and manipulate than plain hairpins of this type, especially if (like me) your hands don’t work as well as they once did.  The three-lobed pins can be used if needed for extra security.  The double spiral pin is primarily decorative, to adorn a finished knot.

Black Steel Wire Hairpins

Black Steel Wire Hairpins

Here are two more pairs of earrings made from catfish bones and forged iron.  I collected the catfish bones in 1995 in the western Kentucky swamp, near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.  Floods fill the swamps every few years.  On my visit, the ground was dry and the trees had a high water line that was several feet above my head.  The unfortunate catfish was left stranded in the woods after the flood receded and its bones were scattered among fallen leaves of persimmon, overcup oak, and baldcypress.  I collected the rib bones and a lot of odd-shaped, intricately textured bones that fitted together to form the fish’s skull.  The bones are quite different from mammal and reptile bones.  They are light, thin, tough, and extremely fine-grained, so they are easy to polish.  Both pairs of earrings are more 3-D than my usual styles, which makes them a bit difficult to photograph.  The earrings are very mobile and the iron and bone elements clatter together gently.  Serpent Moon Earrings are made from a rib and one of the head bones.  The coiled snake has riveted steel eyes.  Copper spirals were added to the bone pendants to help them balance better.  The Winged Curly Cone Earrings are made from two head bones and iron cones forged from cut nails.  The bones hang behind the cones when the earrings are worn.  This pair isn’t as obviously asymmetrical.  Both pairs are now on my website.

Serpent Moon Earrings

Serpent Moon Earrings

 

Winged Curly Cone Earrings

Winged Curly Cone Earrings