At least that’s what they call me here in America.  Things have a lifespan.  Mostly it is short because in America, some people want to sell more stuff.   Many feel strange if their stuff is not new.  The best, the newest version.

I must make an argument about this, as I feel trash has something to offer.  Experience.  Wisdom.  The wisdom of the trash.  My maker studied about Japanese tea bowls in school.

tea bowl 1

The Japanese are aware of their long history.  Maybe that is what is wrong with America.  We are adolescents as a country;  we have not been around long enough to be wise.

The tea bowl above is beautiful mostly because of the broken and repaired lines.  It is an old woman.  It has been cupped in someone’s hands for generations;  different someones who felt the heat of the tea inside and warmed themselves.

teabowl with gold 2

Some wise Japanese have gone further with their old and experienced tea bowls.  They have outlined the broken parts with gold, and put them back together. They have emphasized the broken and wise parts.  The bowl says “Look at my history”.


Above is an example of my maker’s work from the nineties.  All of the bodies are that of my maker, and all the scars mark the history of her cancer, and make her a more experienced person.  It is the same thing.

tea bowl with gold 3Above is something new, based on an old idea.  Look at the gold lines.  And look at the substitution in parts of another bowl.  This is building on the history of trash.


Here is my maker’s work, using just broken trash.  This is not talking about experiencing history, it is history as it is old stuff.


5 thoughts on “I AM TRASH

  1. Really lovely. I restore, or remake old quilt tops. In them, I can feel the woman (likely) whose spirit lies in the weft and warp of the fabric, the stitches which hold small pieces together. I honor her, in this way.
    Over the years of my life, I have seen and felt incredible things in or on, otherwise unwanted pieces. Wooden bowls, for example, with cracks – the crack allows any negative spirit to escape and positive spirit to remain, and gather further. That’s just the way I see and feel it.
    Unfortunately, America’s history is one of wars and genocide, particularly of the native population. The truth is hidden, and continues to be so.
    Trash rules. It is a truly creative, pure spirit who makes something from ‘nothing.’

    • Thank you for reading this and for both of your comments (“I am here”). We are the same. Stitches hold in energy. I have known this for years, and it was only very sensitive types who would stop and look at my small work. Even the stitches in your work of restoration are weakly keeping those two planes together until someone like you strengthens the bond again. It is important work.

      Now that our trash has become so topical, so worrying, it seems more contemporary to me to eliminate the middle-man in the image, as I used to say to my students. If the subject is trash, use trash.

      I have a hobby taking old quilt tops which have been purchased at the flea market, and restitching them. Kind of crazy. We are now sleeping under our spring quilt mad of old feed bags!

  2. Dear wise little bowl,
    I personally think you are lovely and I admire your maker and her work very much. However, Waste as a Way of Life is to my way of thinking an aesthetic and philosophic jumping off point. It is an admirable way, but not the only way, to live.

    It makes me uncomfortable to see American consumerism singled out this way. God knows here is plenty to criticize. But now consumerism is rampant in the entire developed world. (You have only to Google Japanese consumerism to see examples there) Today is any country’s culture defined by the finer feelings of their artists, poets and philosophers? From my admittedly limited experience and knowledge, I see no evidence that the concept of wabi-sabi is alive and well in the wider culture of any county.


  3. Pingback: TALKING TRASH | Waste as a Way of Life

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