Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hands (draft book chapter)

The Costa Rican laborer’s hands may be the roughest hand I have ever shook. The second roughest had was my friend Mikey’s daughter. Her hand was an American cowgirl hand.
My husband is a professor and writer and he has very soft hands. My son is an artist with very long thin fingers. My daughters hands are like a princesses hands, tiny soft and small, waiting for white lacy gloves.
Hands lead our way to the senses. We shake hands, we feed ourselves sometimes with a fork and sometimes we hold onto a slippery mango.
I explain to my pottery students that their hands are their finest tools. The most expensive tool will not necessarily produce the finest pot. You see this as the aspiring young to the clay student asks, “So what kind of wheel or kiln do you use? Or what kind of camera should I buy?”
Through your hands you feel and make artistic decisions with clay. Pinch pots are the essence of all clay making and the feeling, pinching and moving the clay makes it happen whether you are throwing on the potters wheel or pushing the clay around making a figure.

Hands. They tell us a lot about each other. Do you sit on your hands? Do you extend your hands easily? Do you stick them in your armpits? Do you decorate your fingernails and protect them? Can you resist rubbing a babies head? Can you squeeze meat to make meatloaf? Do you point accusingly?

Sensitivity connects through your hands. We find our way through our hands.

Think about a babies chubby new undirected hands before they learn to get what they reach for. The strength of a strong persons hands. And, of course, there are the jokes about the size of a man’s thumb indicating similar matching body parts. Old peoples thin skinned worn hands from years of work becoming more delicate again, telling us to slow down.
Hands show agreement and confidence when we shake. Hands show the clay who is in charge

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