- This is My Hadji Bey
- Eurovision in a Cowshed
- The Boll Weevil 3: On the Waterfront
- A Year in Brocante 11: An Easter Egg
- A Year in Brocante 10: Upscaling and Hacking
- Kevin Pearce
- The Bol Weavil and the Lightning Bug 2: On the Ground
- The Boll Weevil and the Lightning Bug 1: A Home in Ireland
- Love In The Air
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After a mutual declaration of affection, we got married twice or three times, (America, Ireland and kindof France) and have never been apart in 25 years, but once, Himself and myself had an almighty row. It was such a long time ago that my friend Stephen Pearce wasn’t yet walking out with Kim Mai, the woman who was to change her name and become his wife Lauren. I was angry, but I was also a sad girl and Steve came to visit me, bringing two big bags of his wonderful ware, for Stephen Pearce is a potter of renown. <www.stephenpearce.com> “Please” he said “if you are going to have any more rows, just don’t throw pots, because I can’t afford to keep replacing them.”
I hadn’t actually flung any ceramics, Steve was just cheering me up. I wouldn’t – couldn’t – break a Pearce pot. Often, in the family kitchen in Shanagarry, chatting as Steve cooked or cleared, if he came across a dish, mug, jug or bowl with even the tiniest hairline crack or chip, he’d just throw it in the bin. I always felt like sneaking back and retrieving the piece. At home, I never discard ceramics which had suffered bashes from a badly loaded dishwasher (or by a bad dishwasher.) I have tried all kinds of stuff to disguise cracks, fill chips or replace shattered shards, but I am always conscious of the mend, the imperfection.
In my sister’s house last year I saw a small bowl (provenance forgotten) with a chip on the rim which had been so expertly filled and filed and smooth-ed by my brother-in-law Peter that it looked as though it was meant to be, a part of the design. I was hugely impressed and madly envious. Peter shrugged and said that the effect was due neither to his ability nor expertise, but rather a new product called Milliput. I immediately wrote a letter to Santa Claus. At Christmas, I got not one tube of Milliput, but five and as soon as the holiday was over, I opened the cupboards, brought out all the damaged pottery and began to fill in the chips. The results were excellent and even sometimes admired, the pots more than serviceable.
In the early spring I was so delighted to have renewed contact with a girl friend of yore, the American ceramicist Joan Goddard Angwin, that I wrote a blog about her and us <swimtwobirds.com/2012/03/finding-joans>. I told how when she left Ireland to return to the US while still a student, she had left me some of her pots, which have been with me ever since, part of the family chattels through all the moves and phases of our lives. I also rescued a few pieces which Joan was going to abandon on grounds of quality, and they were the ones which I loved the most; pots which had collapsed in firing, or on which the decoration had sloughed off or the glaze gone wrong.
One bowl in particular, I call my wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection, celebrating cracks and crevices and appreciating the intrinsic integrity of natural objects and processes, asymmetry, roughness or irregularity. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty and intimacy. Recently on Facebook, Joan posted a picture of a Japanese pottery bowl, with a golden seam ending in a delta at the rim. The deep fissures in the bowl, which is old and valuable, had been filled with resin and gold flakes, burnished and lacquered. The procedure is called “Kintsugi” or “Kin Zukuroi” which means “repairing with gold.”
For about a decade now, my motto has been “if in doubt…paint it gold.” We have gold ceilings, a gold leather cushion by the wood stove (which always makes the chimney sweep laugh) gold curtains and candle sticks, picture frames and mirrors and gold rimmed table ware. Abandoned birds’ nests and the wish bones after chicken suppers are painted gold….I even begged my dentist to give me a golden filling. (He said “I will yeah” which is the answer to the question “how do you say no in Cork?”.) Because I dislike a patterned edging on the living room floor tiles (taste of previous owners) I painted the offending detail gold. As a result, I have a drawer full of gilding materials; flakes and foils and powders, lacquers, bonders and size.
Yesterday, a golden July afternoon, began the kintsugi of the wabi-sabi. This is a first attempt and it will take some more trial to perfect the technique. For this batch, I used gold flakes, adhesion isn’t great on the base coat as I possibly didn’t leave it to dry long enough, the buffing cloth was too linty and these pix were taken before the end result was lacquered. Next time I will use sealer and foil.