I've been reading this very interesting book...
It's the subject of a panel discussion I've been asked to participate in as part of the American Craft Council show that is coming to Baltimore, February 24-26.
I LOVE the ACC craft show and have attended every opening Friday for the last 15 years. In fact, it's the one place that I not only arrive on time, but I get there 20 minutes early. I don't mind standing in line in order to be one of the first people to travel down aisle after aisle of amazing artworks: textiles, glass, jewelry, beading, furniture, rugs, baskets...you name it. And the quality of the workmanship is amazing.
Sometimes I find a treasure, but mostly I attend with notebook and pencil...taking notes and writing in a fury of inspiration. When I was working, I used to play hooky just to go.
So I was delighted when I was asked by Celeste Sollod to read The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal and to participate in her discussion panel. Celeste is a blogger and writer on Baltimore books, authors and literary life and has shown past interest in my pieces inspired by books like The Giving Purse (The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein), The Right Alice(Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol), and Traveling (Breakfast at Tiffany's).
Celeste gives a great synopsis on this post of the book...but ultimately, it's a memoir that traces a collection of Japanese netsuke (small hand-carved sculptures that are used to hold money purses to Japanese kimonos) back through five generations.
The family was a huge Jewish European banking family on the level of the Rothschilds as far as their wealth and influence. But during the Nazi occupation, all of their fortune was lost and all that remained was the collection of netsuke.
It's a very thought provoking book and it leads me to think about our "stuff". Which of our things end up being family treasures, worthy of safeguarding and passing down through the generations...and which things are tossed or given away for lack of a caretaker. The stories of who bought them or made them and what inspired them to do so tends to be lost too often along with the person's death.
It reinforces the need for us to include the stories of our works along with the pieces that we create. Should my needlework pass from the hands of my family for lack of interest, perhaps there will be someone else out there who desires to be its guardian for a while.
And they will be much more likely to care for the piece if they know a little more about it.
We can only hope, right?
I wrote a guest post for the ACC blog that touches on this subject in a different way, Stitched by Hand, which you can read here.
The American Craft Council has recently launched a whole new website with lots of special interest stories about artists, craft and all things made by hand. It's worth checking out. And if you live near Baltimore, Atlanta, St. Paul or San Francisco...consider attending one of the shows.
And I highly recommend The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance. It's a great read.
Happy weekend everyone and thanks for all the interest in my Needlebook E-course. If you signed up, you'll be receiving an email from me today.
An excerpt from Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal:
"How objects are handed on is all about story-telling. I am giving you this because I love you. Or because it was given to me. Because I bought it somewhere special. Because you will care for it. Because it will complicate your life. Because it will make someone else envious. There is no easy story in legacy. What is remembered and what is forgotten? There can be a chain of forgetting, the rubbing away of previous ownership as much as the slow accretion of stories. What is being passed on to me with all these small Japanese objects?"