October 1, 2013

Rabbit's Elixir of Longevity Vessel

“And that’s why you’re dying,” a doctor said to me recently after a diagnosis that was based on a dubious technique. I didn’t jump at those words and I’m not sure if it was because it was a relief to finally hear words from someone else’s mouth that had been circulating around in my head for the past two years. Could anyone be this symptomatic and not be dying by slow increments? Or perhaps I was not moved because of the doctor’s technique of determining that I had radiation exposure by having me hold my right hand on “the cure” drops while holding my left hand in his right hand and watching a gold chain held in his left hand spin in circles. I just couldn’t take it very seriously. Really. I suspended a gold chain from my own left hand later in the privacy of my home, sans “cure drops” bottle and it spun in circles just the same. And I seemed to recall that this suspended chain spinning technique was also superstitious technique for determining the gender of a baby in a pregnant woman. So much for homeopathy. I haven’t entirely given up on homeopathy as possibly having some value but probably not in conjunction with this particular diagnostic technique.

But getting back to death and dying, it occurred to me after this pronouncement about my appointment with the grim reaper that since I had requested that my body be cremated when my time arrives I could be prepared by making my own cremation urn and pit firing it - ashes to hold ashes. So I made a free form vessel using a pukit mold and coiling techniques then added something intriguing on the inside of the vessel - a print from my ancient Chinese stamp that read “Long Life and Eternal Joy.” I liked the idea of my ashes resting on those words. But it was not to be. The bottom of the pot distorted the print when I altered the shape. Then later, as I was applying the terra sigillata glaze to the greenware I inadvertently broke a chunk out of the vessel along the upper lip. Now what? So the piece became something else entirely. I smoothed over the break and created a ladle so that the vessel would look like a soup tureen. It would have to be a non functional soup tureen. Somehow it no longer worked as a cremation urn either. Just what would the ladle be for? To slowly season steaks and omelettes with my ashes?

As I finished the piece I thought of the Chinese myth of the magic rabbit making the elixir of longevity for the goddess Guan Yin. He had a mortar and pestle for this but perhaps he could have stored his elixir in a small tureen with a longevity stamp in its interior. So now the piece has a new name: Vessel for Rabbit’s Elixer. And for now I’ll be trying more healing methods, and even had the effrontery to start scheduling exhibitions for spring 2014 should any of these methods actually work.  Or perhaps I could find a magic rabbit?

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