Sunday, March 24, 2013

Week 12: Book of Symbols

   This week's book-of-the-week foreshadows the class I will begin teaching this coming week. It even has the same name, Book of Symbols. The book is a simple stiff leaf book with no extra materials or cover... just paste painted mat board pages, book cloth hinges, and my odd language of symbols

Title plate of pastepaint on mat board covers
   The symbols first appeared on my pottery as a weave pattern painted with green underglazes on a black and white glaze background. The weave symbolized life's weave...complex connections and occurrences, always overlapping and working back and forth, interconnected yet independent. Later, blue circles appeared within the weave... symbolizing individuals. Quickly, the blue circles acquired a red dot...meaning the heart. Red rope-like imagery symbolized connection, and a white stripe with close-knit vertical lines meant a barrier. Many, many symbols appeared on the pottery even as I began to write phrases on the bottom of each piece.

 Life's Weave mug
This Book of Symbols is a small catalog of symbols created to decorate my pottery and illustrate my prints. There are no words in this little book... but the translations of the symbols are printed on a small card that accompanies the book... and further along in this blog post. :-) ...that symbol means I'm smiling....

Looking inside Book of Symbols...
Pages of symbols on a backdrop of paste paint... color and pattern
A harlequin pattern in green and black and a red bridge against a turquoise mesh
Another piece of pottery where many of these symbols are used is The Red Bridge teapot.
The Red Bridge teapot
  Although beautiful scenes and garden motifs illustrate much of my work, the symbolism of the imagery gives each piece it's own hidden story. Another personal symbol, the orange lantern, has been so strong an image I often use it as an illustration in both pottery and books. ... And it's the name I've given my print shop, Orange Lantern Press! The orange lantern is the connection between the past and the future. It's difficult to see how to approach the future without a clear view of the past... and the orange lantern shines in both directions.

Orange Lantern

Orange Lanterns in Taipei

  This is what the symbols in Book of Symbols mean:

 Page 1: a blue circle- means an individual
 Page 2: a tiny red dot - means the heart or soul of an individual
 Page 3: a green loose weave - means the weave of life
 Page 4: a white vertical stripe - means transformation
 Page 5: a white vertical stripe with thin close-knit black horizontal lines - means communication
 Page 6: a white vertical stripe with tiny black dots on the edging - means mending or adhering
 Page 7: a wood-grained wavy border stripe - means nature or earth connection
 Page 8: a red and yellow wavy border stripe - means human connection
 Page 9: a window - means vision
 Page 10: a harlequin pattern - means tricky
 Page 11: a red bridge - means overcoming obstacles
 Page 12: a pagoda - means a unified world, or the masses, common folk
 Page 13: an orange lantern - means connection between history and the future

 Most of the time the symbolism in our life goes unnoticed. The contrasts, life journeys and transformations are masked by the mundane, the necessities, the cosmic roar of the information age... We don't see the marks of the ancient cave painters nor understand the murmurs of the poets on the street.. but if we look in our own heart and mind the symbols are all there waiting to be transcribed to our consciousness.

Doorways of a French ruin in a field in France

Humanity has used symbols as communication for tens of thousands of years. Strangely, regardless of the culture or time period, many of the symbols and their meanings are similar.  The symbols below... and the ideas they convey... are still relevant issues today.

                  The Tibetan symbol for creation is a seed of the universe rotating clockwise in the spiral of potential energy.

                    The sign for aum, the Hindu greeting of peace.

Wishing you a universe created in peace.