Monday, 7 May 2012

House of makers

This is an odd household; very quiet.  At any given time of day the house is usually full of silence, as it is now.  The smells in the house as soon as you cross the threshold are of woodsmoke, herbs and spices, olive oil, onions and garlic – incense sometimes.   There are few pieces of furniture and fewer ornaments, so that the house is partly furnished and ornamented by light, as it floods in across the hills to fill the kitchen at sunrise, and slants crosswise in from the west through the bay window at the front, lighting the big living room where the woodstove is during the summer months.

The people who live here are reticent and far from gregarious; somewhat touchy and needing solitude.  But they are good friends, and sometimes from a room in the distance you hear gales of laughter.  And some of us are musicians; on a summer evening when the windows stand open, often flute music hovers and drifts in the garden, sometimes the piano, or the sound of someone singing.

We have very few guests.  I had a birthday party once, but it was a silent one.  I invited my friends to spend an afternoon of silence, dotted about in the various downstairs rooms and the garden.  We ended it with songs of faith, Grace playing the piano, and sharing the treasures of the silence.

People are always making things here – writing, working on the garden, knitting, sewing, cooking, carving, cutting stone, painting, making handmade paper and hand-sewn books – all kinds of things.

Today Hebe has been putting the finishing touches to a painting for a church.

A saint with a gentle face, showing us an icon of the blessed Virgin and holy Child. 

I like his hands.

It is to be given in celebration of someone’s birthday.

It’s painted on a piece of oak.  Hebe is ambivalent about signing work, but she has left her maker’s mark on the back.


365 366 Day 127 – Sunday May 6th       
 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here) 

I bet you’ve thrown out a few  wire hangers in your time, too.

365 366 Day 128 – Monday May 7th      

This was a good umbrella, but Hastings in on the coast.  The wind blows.  Umbrellas act as sails.  Their owners struggle fruitlessly against the wind as it blows the umbrella’s inside out and twists the spokes.  Pointless.


Julie B. said...

Your daughters' giftings never cease to amaze me. It must bless you so much, Ember. Beautiful work....

Ember said...

:0) waving! x

keitha said...

That truly is a beautiful piece. It sounds very peaceful in your home...

Buzzfloyd said...

Gifts encouraged greatly in childhood and beyond by the allowance of freedom and good resources, and the witholding of opinions. :-)

Asta Lander said...

A masterful icon.

Ember said...

It is peaceful here, keitha :0)

Buzz - I was so much influenced by the monastic way of living, as well as by the Gaskins (and John Holt and A.S.Neill) - and by the Brontes in respect of art provision. I felt I had so little to offer my children, but perceived that the Brontes talent flourished exactly because of the paucity of their resources; it made me see that "nothing" is in fact a valuable thing to give, if it is guarded and left uncluttered with activities and things. You didn't have much really - blank paper, crayons, books, mud, plants, animals, fire, music and the sea :0)

Asta - I think it's fab, too! Technically it's an icon-style painting rather than an icon - I think there are precise rules to icons in both the crafting and the design - but that's right what you say, it is icon-inspired :0)

Pilgrim said...

I think you're right. I just read the book about the monastic hours that accompanied the famous Chant CD, back the 90's. The author has a good passage about scarcity giving rise to the ability to appreciate the sensory world.

Our book club is reading The Hawk and The Dove this month. My turn to choose. :-) I saw your books on the shelf of Baker bookstore in Grand Rapids, MI, a few weeks ago.

Sherry said...

Pen, you are a very talented family! I love the painting. I also love the quiet you described. I love to work with my hands an I love to do it in solitude. I guess that is because I spent my childhood in solitude. Not a bad thing, just hard to find these days.

I love the hands on the painting, also. A very creative way to display Mary and Jesus.

Blessings, Sherry

Ember said...

Hooray - thank you, Pilgrim! Let me know what they (the book club) thought :0)

Hi Sherry - I firmly believe all people are both talented and intelligent - it's just a matter of finding where it is they excel. x

BLD in MT said...

I think most people would be happier if they took the time to create something physical with their time: words on a page, paint on a canvas, food on a plate, seed in a garden, even a note penned to a firend. Making something with your hands is such a delightful and meditative process that really seems to open you up to yourself. Your house is a blessed oasis then!

The last time I tried to use my umbrella it totally turned inside out in the wind. Pretty pointless. I managed none the less.

Ember said...

We even have a road sign for this umbrella problem in the UK:

Donna said...

I'm so glad it's not just me that firmly believes umbrellas have no place in Hastings! Never managed to use one for more than 20 minutes, yet I still get funny looks whenever I refuse the offer of a borrowed one.

You say your daughters didn't have much, but it seems they nevertheless had the best. A good pack of crayons is better than a dozen cheap and nasty packs of oil-sticks, felt pens and pencils that break when you look at them. And books! And mud! Not all children have those things. :-(

Ember said...

WH Smiths pencil crayons were the best, surprisingly - even better than the ones from art shops. I believe we did go through a fair number of packs of felt pens too! :0)