21 April 2006


I know only slightly more about this piece than you. It cost me $5 at the world's greatest hidden treasure spot- Goodwill. It stands approx. 18 inches tall and is made out of cream-colored marble. On the bottom is a sticker reading "Handmade in Kenya." And it is HEAVY. Don't drop it on your toe when you're dusting the living room.

We've been having fun titling it, examining the workmanship (something museums are not so inclined to let you do with your hands, but in your own home...), and making up stories about what's happening and who carved it.

Ellie says the title is, Creation. "God is the big one and He is forming me out of the clay."

Rebekah calls it, Finding Each Other. "If somebody is in love but then they are broke apart and then they find each other again and embrace."

Untitled abstract art is great. You can interpret to your heart's content. So...


10 April 2006

He Is the Potter

* This is the pottery instructor at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center in Frederick, MD. All the other pieces pictured are generously supplied by my own in-house potters.*

The topic of Honor. It's got a lot to do with pottery, you know. "How?" you ask...

Well, imagine being a potter. If you've ever attempted to throw a pot on a potter's wheel, you know it's not the easiest thing in the world to do. When I threw my first pot in junior high, I was so frustrated that I literally wanted to THROW my pot. Out the window. I swore I hated pottery and would never use a potter's wheel again.
My problem was that I didn't understand any of the subtleties of wheel thrown pottery. Somehow I thought I could whip out a gorgeous decorative bowl in no time. All you have to do is sit there and mash the clay into shape while the wheel spins around, right?

Wrong. You can't man-handle the clay into a perfectly round bowl or cup. You have to learn to feel the clay and how it behaves in motion. You have to sense the rhythm of the spinning wheel. It requires a gentle touch, in which just the slightest push or pull can have a major affect on the look and shape of the clay. You have to understand centrifical forces and how to harness them to work for you rather than fighting against them. Small moves equate to big changes in the form on the wheel. One push or pinch too many, and you've impaled your lovely coffee-mug-in-the-making. Too shy with the pressure, and the clay does nothing but spin and fling slip all over the place. You also have to know how to position your hands and arms (and your entire body actually) in order to get the clay to pull into shape you desire. It takes patience, practice, and lots of clay.
Because the first 20 pots you make usually end up on the recycle heap.

My Potter is a master craftsman. There is no man-handling about him at all. As the clay in His hands, he watches me spin on the wheel round and round, watching life whiz by at a dizzying pace. He knows my consistency, for He's the one that mixed and wedged me on the worktable. He has a vision for my final shape. My usefulness, my beauty, what I will contain, what I will someday be able to pour out.
These are things I can't even fathom as I sit in the center of the potter's wheel. I feel like the life is being squeezed out of me. He's poking me, scraping my sides, dousing me when I'd really rather be dry- thank you very much. Setting me on the shelf with a plastic bag over me. "Am I finished yet? Is this what I'm supposed to look like? Gotta say that I feel a bit rough around the edges. Not a lot of color or splash that I can see. Are you sure this is what you want me to be like? Surely sure? For sure for sure?"

My head bobs and weaves while I try to focus on the things around me. They're spinning, whirring, not making any sense. I can't get a bead on my surroundings. But I find that when I quit trying to focus on the horizontal and shift my focus to the vertical, I look straight up and see my Potter. The frenetic blur surrounding me only highlights the crystal clear image of my North Star. My Creator. My Source. The One I honor.
He's smiling and humming, covered in clay up to His elbows. He seems to think things are going well on this spinning plate of mine. And all other things are as they should be... just a blur.

04 April 2006

Homemade Cathedral: The Beginning

Notre Dame Cathedral- Paris, France

Ok, so we don't have 158 years on our hands, but I thought it'd be fun to build a cathedral so the girls and I could understand how the "people of yore" used architecture to honor the Lord.

I have been attracted to the beauty and grandeur of cathedrals and abbeys for many years, and have had the marvelous opportunity to visit several of them while we lived in Europe. To me, there are few things as exciting as human hands put to work for the honor and glory of God. Cathedrals represent creative vision, a true labor of passion, craftsmanship at its finest, and Biblical teaching at its most varied and beautiful.

Chartres Cathedral- Chartres, France

Can you imagine being the chief architect, knowing that you will probably not live to see your vision completed? Imagine yourself a resident of the cathedral town. Year by year observing the progress as you go to the market and the boulangerie, knowing your tithes and offerings were helping to create a place where generations of Christians would come to learn the truths of Scripture and worship the Lord. (Ok, it's a bit of a romantic twist on the realities of the Gothic cathedral, but I'm prone to romanticism.)

These awesome feats often took over a century to build. War, disease, lack of funds, lack of materials, lack of workers, lack of engineering and architechtural know-how...
And since our family doesn't have a century (but we've still somehow managed to come up with our fair share of war, disease, and all the rest!!) we opted to skip the stonework and go the cardboard box route.

Westminster Abbey- London, England

Step 1: Get the word out to all the relatives that we're looking for large cardboard boxes. Check with our local freecycle group. Ask the produce department at our grocery store for their leftover pumpkin, watermelon and pomegranate boxes.
We ended up with several huge moving boxes, an appliance box and a pumpkin box. (Thanks Mom!)

Step 2: Draw the floorplan of your cathedral.
As you draw, sing this song so you can remember the main parts of a cathedral.

(To the tune of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes)
"Apse, choir, transept, nave- transept, nave.
Apse, choir, transept, nave- transept, nave.
Flying buttress, gargoyle and the rose window.
Apse, choir, transept, nave- transept, nave!"

Step 3: Paint a whole bunch of butcher paper with gray paint to look like stonework. Because you don't want to spend eons trying to cover over the pictures of pumpkins and the writing on the cardboard boxes, this seems like the next best option.

Step 4: Get your handy husband and his new power saw to help cut out the windows and doorways for your cathedral.

Step 5: Take a break to host a tea party for your friends. More on our cathedral construction to come.