On first glance, we might tend to think of this as a failed attempt to restore. We might think the pot is beyond usefulness and ought to be thrown out. But if every one of us is going around broken, in varying degrees, does this response indicate that we have this same attitude toward each other...and toward ourselves?
On several occasions, I’ve participated with groups in a simple creative exercise that yielded deep insights into our souls. Art has a way of doing that! Everyone had a paper bag and a terra cotta pot, which we placed inside the bag and then we passed around a hammer...yes, for smashing the pot. We then proceeded to use the provided materials - different kinds of glue, papers and paints - to restore our pots. As we set about this process, it was amazing to discover all of the metaphors that began to flow out of the experience. It was a bit like exploring an old attic and happening upon things once hidden, delighting in new discoveries, being saddened by stirred memories or realizations, and calling out to fellow explorers with each new encounter. We worked on our pots, sometimes in silent contemplation and concentration, other times voicing our frustrations or discovered metaphors. And then we gathered to share our observations and responses to the experience. I thought I had discovered a good number of profound metaphors from the process, but I was amazed and encouraged by everyone else’s observations, born out of each person’s unique story with which they approached the project! I think the possibilities for application are endless.
Here’s a small sampling:
-- I found that, when using white craft glue, I had to hold the pieces together for a while to let the glue set. If I moved on too quickly and tried to mend too many broken spots at once, the first ones would fall apart. Realistically, my fingers could only hold, at most 3 pieces at a time until the glue was sufficiently dried to add more.
-- Mending broken pieces takes time and patience.
-- Sometimes two pieces needed the help of a scrap of paper, glued over the crack to support them and hold them together as they dried. At first I thought this was “cheating”, but then I realized that there were no rules about it, that I had made this one up, about the pieces having to hold themselves together without any external help.
-- There were some pieces that had been smashed to dust, so they couldn’t be replaced, which left holes between the larger mended pieces. But if the purpose of this pot had been for holding candles, then the light could actually shine through these broken places better now than if the pot was still whole.
-- Some people decided not to put their pot back together as it had been, but instead created something new and different, using the pieces to make beautiful painted sculptures.
The list could go on...
You should try it. Find an old pot, or find one at a craft store(they’re cheap). Bag it, whack it with a hammer, pour the pieces onto a paper plate, and set to work on it. You’ll be surprised to discover the metaphors that begin to unfold.
If you try it, drop me a note - I’d love to hear about it!
(Today’s post is part of a series reflecting on my latest painting that I was commissioned to make. To see the full painting, clickHERE. To see images of its creation in process, click HERE).