I dreamed I was soaking baby clothes in glaze, drying them and then placing them in a kiln. Years later I still feel the dream – I was outdoors on a beautiful spring day, a slight breeze ruffling a nearby stand of eucalypts. The kiln was large and old and green. The glaze was green too as was the bucket. (No doubt there’s an explanation for all this green). I was taking tiny baby garments from the glaze bucket and hanging them to dry on wire coat hangers. As I placed the first dry garment on a kiln shelf I suddenly realised that it would be fused to the shelf after firing —–and that’s where I woke up.
I dismissed the dream as fanciful, a nice idea, but not achievable until a few years later when I discovered Shino glazes. Some are so stable a fingerprint is visible after firing. Maybe, just maybe …..
I look back now and still don’t know whether it was blind faith or arrogance that drew me on……..
I believe my dream was triggered by a subconscious desire to preserve a precious memory. Working in a ceramic medium brings a sense of permanence and solidity, contrasting to the eventual disintegration of fabric and fading memory. The ceramic knitting is fragile and may shatter, but it will not decay. At first glance it appears to be very like woollen knitting, but on closer inspection an unnerving stiffness is apparent.
Among domestic crafts, the making and giving of hand knitted baby garments for the unborn or newborn is especially priceless. Given with a heart full of love, joy and hope for the future, handknitted baby clothes carry a message of love and goodwill from their maker. A baby garment is an object with shifting meanings. During the making, the focus is on anticipation, optimism and looking to the future. Then follows a brief period of use. When the child has outgrown them, these tiny garments remain as memories of a gift, and a gift of memory. Whether kept as family heirlooms, or handed on to friends or the needy, these gifts remain as memories, precious and treasured.