It’s about the light, capturing it and bringing it into your space. It’s about the branch, bringing life. It’s also about original objects giving authenticity. Not much is needed to add these elements to ones living space. But what a difference it can make!
One can usually sense foliage that is artificial, and the feel in a room is different when fresh flowers are in a vase. Likewise, an original object possesses life that a machine-made one doesn’t. Objects made by hand retain energy of the of human that made them and give some of that back when we place them in our environment. Having artisan made things, and art, in my home inspires me toward perfection, but gently reminds me that there is beauty in the struggle to do ones best. As well as marveling at a skillfully handcrafted item, I relish its imperfections. Perfection may never be reached, but along the way there are so many wonderful discoveries to be made. My accumulated objects remind me of the winding path I have been on to the present me. Most often it is those made by hand that revive best and nudge me to keep on climbing.
Just before the big rains hit last weekend (almost 2″ in about as many days), my brother Brad and his wife, Jian, dumped several pounds of gorgeous, golden chanterelles on our doorstep. Without hesitation, I began spreading them out on newspaper so that they wouldn’t get soggy. When I am ready to cook, I begin by sauteing them, or heating them in a skillet to cook off the water they contain. This is a good way to concentrate the flavors. Once the excess water is removed, wine, white or red, can be added to create the foundation of a lovely sauce that can be used on pasta, meat dishes or as base for soup. Just add a little salt and pepper, some butter perhaps, and extend with creme fraiche or sour cream.
I picked up my basic knowledge of wild mushroom preparation from my husband, Nigel Foster, a veteran outdoors man and amateur mycologist from way back. Together we have hunted many a kilo of chanterelles during autumn kayaking trips in Sweden. To this day, I have yet to find a chanterelle in my home state of Washington, although they are abundant in the Pacific Northwest. Every fall, I purchase them for a good price at local Asian markets. Chanterelles are a gourmet treat that can be had for free, if one takes the initiative to seek them. With an absolutely singular flavor, and among the richest sources of vitamin D known, the delicious chanterelle is a signal to me that autumn has arrived. I enjoy them fresh while I can and make sure to dry a few to savor later on in the winter when their prime has passed!
The evolution of the vase range has been organic, with one thing leading to another very naturally. I knew that I needed a larger vase and had been mulling over some shape ideas in my head for sometime. Then, along came “Grammie’s urn” project. That took my thoughts away from a just a vessel for flowers to a shape that required a more intimate involvement. Developing the urn made a fine launching pad for this vase. As mentioned in my last post, I considered Grammie’s femininity and incorporated that into the design. Nipping the vase in at the waist, in an allusion to the female figure, allows the shape to support the flowers. With a classic full bouquet, this could be seen as a warm, overflowing bosom. Is there anything so welcoming as a bountiful floral arrangement?! Like the idealized woman, my new vase is also accommodating. Take pleasure in highlighting the qualities of a few large blossoms. Look forward to spring when this vase can host a bunch of inky blue irises.
Now that summer has passed, casting and drying a ceramic piece takes a lot longer. Then, there is the process of glazing and firing. One by one, as they gradually come out of the mold, I try the vase in a new VIT color. It is always delightful to see a new shape in another color for the first time. Much in the same way that it is a pleasure to see a good friend dressed up in a new outfit, one sees the piece differently and can appreciate another facet of its beauty.
Each piece needs a name and this vase vase will get a one special one. I will call it “Eve”, after Evelyn Nelson Hildebrand, for my own indulgence. But, most will be able to identify the name with the feminine form which inspired it.