Monday, July 23, 2012

Soul's Kitchen

   What is it about storytelling that mesmerizes us and also spins us into a vortex of imagination? Paulus Berensohn is a potter, a journal maker, a dancer, and an extraordinary man. This weekend I attended a workshop on a mountain in North Carolina where Paulus led an equally extraordinary assembly of book artists, writers, and visionaries in creating handmade journals and telling our stories.
Paulus, author of Finding One's Way With Clay
   A film crew from Australia came from the other side of the world to make a documentary of our friend and mentor... who recently won an award from the Smithsonian Institute as a phenomenal teacher... as he lead one of his workshops on making and keeping handmade journals.  In addition to leading us in making pastepaper,  covering book board,  assembling our folded papers and sewing the coptic bound books.... he had each of us spend time in front of the camera (and our fellow workshop participants) telling our stories of (what we considered) our significant life's work. Yet, we all had to include how this one man changed our perception of the world... and most importantly of ourselves. There were plenty of tears.. as well as laughter and love, dancing and accordion music, delicious food, and communion of spirit.

   If you are interested in reading more about Paulus, read his book Finding One's Way With Clay or one of the many articles written about him. Also, there will be an "online Journal" of the filming quite soon and eventually the documentary will be available. As soon as I have information, I'll post it on this blog so you can see more.

   Paulus initially called our workshop "Soul's Kitchen" and that is what I have named my book of the week for week 29. Soul's Kitchen is the book I made in this incredible 3-day workshop.
Pastepaper and a photograph of orchids for the cover....
All the journals of Soul's Kitchen
Holding Zan's doodle "Everything is Indeed Reaching Out to Everything Else"
   One of our workshop participants shared her 30-foot piece that started as a doodle and became a poem, a symbol of transformation and an incredibly beautiful piece of artwork. Her own journals were equally beautiful. She taught us all how to make a string ink painting. I made a string ink painting in my own Soul's Kitchen. It's easy to do.. just dip a 6-inch length of string into a cup of ink, then hold it over the paper and let its end lay in a curl over the paper.. then drag it across the paper. But be sure to relax! and let go of your need to control the string.. just pull it ...maybe dance a bit as you do!
So fragile when we begin to grow...
On the last day we gathered in a sewing circle and sewed up our books. Paulus calls the needle the "silver sword."
Joy, Paulus, and Debra in the sewing circle...
Our classmate Joy led us in singing the song, "When I Was Young." I wrote the words on the very first page of Soul's Kitchen. 

When I was young
I was the sun-
shone through the trees
onto the ground.

When I was young
I was the mountain-
knew all the birds
had my own vision.

When I was young
I was the river-
flowed through the mountain
down to the sea.

When I was young
I was the ocean-
held all my friends
throughout the end.

I am I am. I am I am. I am I am. I am I am...

   So over a lifetime, our small group has come to know the importance of keeping a beautiful journal, our Soul's Kitchen, and living a poetic life with all the dreams, poems, blessings and challenges recorded there. And thanks to Paulus, each of us has felt compelled to share this with others, as I am with you.
Pastepaper page of Soul's Kitchen