23 May 2005

What are they for?

I spent a couple hours in the studio this evening during which I finished the half moon vessels that I'd started late last week and made several goddess pendants. While working, I was thinking about web page stuff. I want to write a Frequently Asked Questions list for the website which touches on the types of questions that people generally have about my work. Several of the answers to those questions have the potential to grow into actual articles.

One of the first questions that I get when people see my vessels, for example, is "What are they for?" or "What's in them?" The answers that I give are often dependant upon my state of mind and whether or not the person asking seems like someone who will appreciate my sense of humor. The honest answer to the second question, especially if I happen to be wearing the piece, is usually "Nothing." But the answers that I give are more typically, "Anything that will fit" or "Fragrance or Essential oils"

When I started making pendant vessels, I was interested in small versions of common vessel forms. The vessels were really more symbolic than functional. After making tiny vessels for a period of time, I became more aware of their potential for use in aromatherapy. Now, after years of making them, I'm becoming more interested in artisan fragrances.

Almost two years ago, after the abrupt, heartbreaking end of my first pregnancy, I found myself unable to make vessels for some time. I still struggle some with the idea of my self as vessel. For several months, every time that I sat down to work on vessels, I seemed to confront failure. My own failure to carry new life into the world and the failure of my hands to shape the familiar forms which were a significant portion of my body of work. I began to think of vessels as containers of emptiness. I felt as though I was shaping clay around a void, and as though the void defined both the object and the maker.

In an effort to overcome that inherent emptiness, I began inscribing words on the soft slabs which I used to make some of my vessels. The words, inscribed on the inside of the vessel, would not be visible and, yet, the vessel would not be empty. It would contain a word, a thought, a wish... About the same time, I became pregnant a second time. My second pregnancy, although sometimes difficult and often limiting, ended happily with the birth of my daughter Mica.

Over the last month, I've made quite a few vessels. It wasn't until tonight that I found myself thinking about the vessels that I'd made while working through my miscarriage. I have no way of knowing which vessels have my hopes inscribed on their inner walls, but perhaps they've entered the lives of people who need them as much as I did when I wrote the words on the clay.

I think maybe it is time for me to make some more vessels with wishes written in their walls.

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