Tinkering is a satisfying way to spend a morning, albeit yet again, tinkering with the basic design of this blog.
‘Tinkering’ the word originally referred to repairs made on tinware by the ‘tinkers’, travelers in the medieval and the early industrial ages, at the little towns and villages where they might stay in a paddock or on the common land.
Tinkering has come to mean a cross between repairing and improving a broken thing, and sometimes referring to the process needed before an invention can be dragged from an inventor’s unconsciousness.
In my case, this morning, me tinkering with the tags and categories of tags for this blog means hopefully making it better, and hopefully more interesting. Easier to use is another possible outcome. For me though, tinkering is a favorite activity leading to all sorts of new ideas and ways of doing things.
Although I’ve been blogging in various guises for about twelve years, I have never yet blogged on a platform with so many possibilities as this one at this time in its history while my first three years using the WordPress.com platform passed first in a fog of illness, then a year of recovery when my brain wasn’t capable of complex thought. Now though, I finally feel like I can learn again and retain concepts long enough to use them.
You’re wondering how I solved the problem of that broken ceramics project?
Today someone asked me if I could see my life lining up after chemo. It stopped me in my tracks.
I’ve been living in the moment of having cancer and having it treated for so long that plans about what to do afterwards are not on my horizon.
Should they be? I’ve gotten out of the habit of making plans. After all, it wasn’t just cancer that hit me. There’s COVID too that hit the whole world. Does anybody now think they know what is around the corner?
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But let me tell you what happened with that tile.
I was learning to paint with ceramics at the time. My next big project was going to be a 30 cm square tile using all the techniques of applying texture available to me. I’d gotten as far as recessing the sky areas by patient scraping and sanding with the scrubber part of the dish-washing sponge. The applying the three coats of sky blue. In the foreground I’d started the stylized bamboo, and the carving-in of various landforms.
Un-kilned tiles (referred to as green ware) are extremely fragile. I decided to leave it at the workshop for my next class the following week for that reason. Nobody knows how it happened, just that sometime during the week the tile broke.
The pebble insert above was my first idea for saving it. The rest of the class, Carmel, Carole, Sue and several others all made suggestions. If I was to have a band of pebbles, I’d first need to saw off part of the existing bits, top and bottom, then stick the middle two bits on another tile, kiln the whole assembly, and finally glue the pebbles in.
I didn’t like it. No elegance in it. There had to be a better solution, I thought. I took the tile home for the four-week interim around Christmas and New Year and studied it often.
Finally, I realized that the only way to camouflage a break so definitive would be to have more breaks. More pieces.
Did that. Very satisfying. Ended up with about eleven pieces. Was able to highlight a different technique on each of them. I use it as a puzzle. Lend it to people and they call me in the night to ask which piece goes where.
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I think that this puzzling-together of the pieces I am left with after my life broke is probably going to be the way into a new way of being. There will be no lining up of the pieces. How can there be?
I’ve got old bits that need upgrading … my writing and my painting … friends from then, and family, to convince that my new way of being is how I’ll need to be.
New bits … the amount of attention I now need to give to my health … new friends to make and maintain … my grandchildren now within reach to nurture … a new way of gardening to learn …
More new things than old things possibly, and all of them having to fit into a narrower borrowed time.