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  • Erin Clark

Nothing Without Love

This morning I found an article about quilt artist Yoshiko Jinzenji who built her own house on mount Hiei in Kyoto at 75 years old. One of my ultimate dreams is to also build my own house, perhaps not kitchen first, but certainly the spirit of her endeavour struck me.


She wanted a kitchen she could live in, so she built one. In the photos the article included open shelves displaying an earthen rainbow of hand thrown pottery from a lifetime of collecting from friends and artists. Wood pile, wood stove, dining room, counter tops, fabric in great swaths and wreathes, is the entire house and all in one space. Nothing is hidden.


Except for a tea room, which I learned from the article, is meant to be set apart from the rest of a house. Not just physically, but energetically. Where her kitchen house is built to buzz with friends and life and food and art, the tea room is separate and subdued, a still place to connect to her soul. Before she built a kitchen house, when Junzenji was living in Bali, she invented a process for dyeing fabric white using bamboo.


I quote the article: “Although I said I got white when I first used bamboo dyeing, many people didn’t believe. ‘The cloth itself is white. Is this really from bamboo dyeing?” They asked me this and other questions puzzledly. People can tell red and black, but all of them can’t recognize the white from bamboo dyeing. Nothing can be done about those who can’t. Those who can, however, will see elegance in and get strength from this cloth.”


Those who can, discern. They can tell white from white, fabric from treatment. Do they get strength from the cloth, or from the knowing?


Imagine you are the cloth and the inventor of the dye process. You are also the one who knows.




Song: nothing without love by Ruth Moody

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