Tuesday, November 11, 2014. The snowflakes are moving in. Tiny warriors of winter. Each a perfect crystal, literally sent down from above. They are not naturally my friends, and yet I think about what I heard years ago when I lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico about how the Pueblo People near there so honored what I seem to so detest.
And fear, though the fears are about my own disinclinations. My own shortcomings. Flaws. Basically? My own bad attitudes!
The Pueblo People have songs. All Native Americans do, although the elders say that so many of them have been lost over time. The People’s song I mention has many stanzas that describe all the stages of miracles that take place throughout one cycle of the seasons to make the world ready for the perfect dance of falling snow.
Dancing tiny snowflake warriors. We are not buried under them yet as I hear Minneapolis already is. So my more positive take this morning is that if all the billions of people on earth had a chance — took the chance — to all work together toward a good end for us all what could we accomplish?
A lot. I think about how these uncountable, really, tiny crystals will take over this world for many months to come. Not only do they fall one at a time, they all fall together. Right now as I gaze out my one window I see them meandering down. Being caught separately, one at a time, in a gentle draft, floating sideways, swooping up again before they settle like the tiniest white flames on browning grass tips.
I am not quite so afraid of what is coming. My supplements (mentioned in previous post) have arrived. The molecules contained in them as they will work with the molecules within me I KNOW have the power to enable me to weather winter without sinking into the troughs of isolating depression that would take me over without them. I also have, for the rest of the month of November, a chance to go to the open public clay studio in town here with a friend who so kindly picks me up on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and some weekend afternoons.
I haven’t worked with clay since my nearly-30 year old son was the age the grandson I care for weekdays is. It’s been over a quarter of a century since I tried to center a ball of clay, tried to make something useful if not beautiful arise from it.
I admit I avail myself of the wonders of YouTube videos to replenish my memory about how to do this! I am also intrigued by the process of the return of my own body memories as I handle the clay.
I found myself thinking last night about how people say no matter how many years of sobriety an alcoholic achieves if they return to drinking the progression of their disease affects them as though they had been drinking all of those years. I am finding a fascinating similar process with one of my creative loves — sculpting with clay. I REMEMBER this process right along with my passion for “finding things” in the shapes of the mud.
But I also am finding that I now know MORE about my own interactions with my heart, my mind, my tools, this clay as together I now work VERY TINY bits of clay into magical shapes that, to me, convey the essence of human emotions. I do not worry about physiological perfections of human forms. I am NOT making people. This is EARTH I am working with.
I am very clear now that I love to let the clay speak. Not only is shaping clay about creating expression in three dimensional space. It is also about literally marking time. Every mark I make upon this clay transmits a split-second record not only of me in my life, but in the clay itself as it passes through time within my hands.
Time and space.
I can entertain myself all winter long with my worn out legless tabletop perched in perfect balance along the length of my beat up ironing board in my sewing room. I live in a shoe-box (I repeat to myself). It makes sense to me that I am working on very small pieces, many of them no taller than two inches. I laugh within. If I were to present a show of my work in an art gallery the entire show could be displayed in exactly that — a shoe-box!!
Considering this progression of my love of clay work over this quarter century my hands have been only in touch with adobe mud as a creative outlet (NOT here!), I think about some comments a professor gave to me those years ago: “You make maquettes. That’s what Matisse did. Others were commissioned to turn his work into massive bronze structures. He worked very small.”
A maquette (French word for scale model, sometimes referred to by the Italian names plastico or modello) is a small scale model or rough draft of an unfinished sculpture. An equivalent term is bozzetto, from the Italian word that means “sketch”.
I see this in my work. I experience the wonders of the human mind — MY mind — as I can imagine in a very living way what my tiny sculptures would look like and FEEL like if ——
I think, “If we lived in a different kind of world, a different kind of culture, that truly valued providing external environments of beauty, mystery and delight, my work could be created LARGE in public spaces.”
There is one I finished yesterday that I will bring to the studio tonight to leave for bisque firing that is of women in motion — and one child, in a ring with a deep open space carved in the center which faces the figures’ backs. A “real” sculpture of this piece would give people of all sizes and ages a place to climb into. As humans moved within and around the lines of the sculpture they would become — for their moments of time in space shared with the piece — a living part of this work.
There’s another small piece I finished yesterday that was inspired by a dear friend of mine’s life. His father died when he was two. My friend has walked a long way through his lifespan without the knowledge of what it would have been like to have shared his life — and therefore his memories — with a father.
There is a little boy nestled on the lap and near the breast of a large, powerful man who looks rather primal. Rather apelike. The father’s left arm is very long. His hand is very large. I know that in the perception of a little boy should he be wrapped thusly in the arms of such a man would not care one tiny twit about the actual “real” proportions of the person who held him so safely, so securely. This (to me) is how such a little boy would FEEL.
So protected. So connected through the love of this man who is himself MADE of earth, grounded upon the earth, wrapped by earth.
Yeah, fall oh ye snowflake warriors. I am preparing to be prepared to endure your collected life upon this earth.
Dare I say “Thank you” for gracing our life with yours as the Pueblo snow song describes?
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