There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Friday, September 4, 2009

feats of clay

STILL HEARING the call of birds, it was interesting to discover that some believe Jesus produced miracles at an early age. "According to the legend, the main source for which is the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, the child Jesus, playing one day in the mud, took some of it and modeled it into birds. When he clapped his hands, they came to life, and flew away."*

CERAMIC BIRDS (made of fired hand-formed clay or molded clay slip), although not as delicate and not always as colorful as their blown glass counterparts, are still a beautiful addition to the decorated tree. My ever-increasing collection of bird ornaments contains all sorts of shapes, sizes and materials. I usually prefer the German glass ones, because they delicately perch on top of tree branches (attached with metal clips). Ceramic birds make a statement all-their-own. They can be washed or glazed with color, crackle-glazed, or clear-glazed with natural clay tones showing through.

IN TALKING with my coworker and good friend Peggy (who is a talented photographer and visual designer), she mentioned how much she liked my previous post about birds. She said she always thought of birds as messengers. Indeed, they are. They seemed to be tuned into the rhythm of the natural world much more than we humans are in our industrialized existence. Symbols, legend and lore involving birds are endless and timeless.   

IF NOTHING else, birds are our companions to nature in its purest state. And they are reminders of what it is like to always be able to take flight, even if only in our imaginations—a miracle in itself. 

FLYING FREE |  These porcelain clay ornaments (top, right) were found in three disparate places. (From top, to bottom), a crackle-glazed bird ornament from Kurt S. Adler bought at the Tannenbaum Christmas Shop in Omaha, Nebraska; in the middle is a handmade bird bought from an artisan at the Inman Park Festival in Atlanta; at bottom is a ceramic bird ornament from the Martha Stewart Everyday collection at Kmart.

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland

MEDIEVAL MYSTERY | (Left) In a church wall painting (probably dated from the 15th century) at Shorthampton Parish in Oxfordshire, England, the infant Jesus is held by his mother on her right arm and holds one of the clay birds out to another child on her other arm (probably Jesus' half-brother James).*

*Information from the web catalog (Medieval Wall Painting in the English Parish Church) of Anne Marshall, retired Associate Lecturer, The Open University in the U.K.. Photo by T. Marshall. 

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