“It’s wrong,” he said, “to take away the story a pot can tell.”
A pot should tell about the passing of time. It should speak of the woman with swirls on her fingertips, who smoothed the inside surface with a piece of gourd. It should raise a prickle of wonder at the artist who looked at a lizard and saw the geometry of its back limbs, right angles framing the curve of its tail. It should lay bare the disaster of its breaking and what else might have been broken with it. If it has empty space in its skin, that emptiness is part of what it is.
Clay that holds a story of human creative power holds also a story of the fragmenting power of time and weather and irretrievable loss. The beauty in a bowl is the truth of it. If part of its truth is the wounds it has endured, then those wounds are part of its beauty.
From Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature by Kathleen Dean Moore
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She messaged me in mild panic: my granddog had broken my son’s favorite bowl. “Send it to me,” I told her, and I spent months mending it. Not because it took that long, but because I enjoyed the process. He assured me he didn’t want it, my son, so I’ve adopted it, and for some unfathomable reason, I can’t bear to finish mending it.
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I bought two bags filled with shards of broken dishes – five dollars a bag – and years later, I am still tickled with my treasure. “What will you do with them?” my husband asks in a chuckle. That was a long time ago, and the shards still just sit in a dish, treating my imagination to stories untold.
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We visited Nancy last week, my friend Angela and I. After she finished her brownie sundae with strawberry milkshake, I put paper in front of her and a pen in her hand, and our Nancy drew like a woman possessed. She doesn’t have the fine motor skills to turn a single page at a time, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. She drew then stopped, waiting on me to find her a fresh page. She filled the remaining pages in my pocketbook notebook then Angela’s notebook then a few bits of paper I happened to have tucked to the side. That night I bought her a 6-pack of composition books and a side of pens, and the next day when we took her to lunch, I opened them in front of her. Though she didn’t draw with quite the same intensity as the day before, she was nevertheless focused, and filled the better part of three of those six books.
Yesterday and the day before, I scanned those images, and purchased several yards of white fabric – some broadcloth and some white textured fabric purchased at a thrift shop. (I’ll explain my choice of fabrics another day in another post.) Today I cut the fabric into pieces, and tomorrow I’ll set about stitching each of Nancy’s 163 drawings – one image to one piece of cloth – using purple thread because purple is her favorite color and Angela’s purple pen is the one she obviously preferred. I’ll be posting occasional updates here where I do my long form writing, but mostly I’ll be documenting this journey at my new blog, Gone with the Thread, specially created for such inexplicable but necessary pursuits of my heart.
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I keep the shards without so much as an idea of making a wailing wall like the one in The Secret Life of Bees or the mosaic wall in How to Make an American Quilt. I don’t want to remake them into something they once were, and I don’t want to make them into something else entirely. I keep the shards and the pieces of the bowl just as they are because even in their (so called) brokenness, they speak. Because even in their (so called) brokenness, their possibilities are limited only by my limitations. Because even in their (so called) brokenness, they are beautiful.