An elder weaver's unique style
I love the handwoven fabrics from Isaan, Thailand: beautiful, distinctive and excellent quality. Recently two women from the region visited me carrying with them hundreds of scarves and shawls.
A stark white bedsheet is the perfect backdrop to lay their treasures. I pick up and fastidiously examine each one and make orderly stacks that understandably only I comprehend.
Examining each piece numerous times, the process takes more hours than I prefer to admit. Throughout my selection I continue to eye one particular group. Yes, I like the shawls in this group, but something is mysteriously off-kilter. I am not willing to reject them, so I give them a special place among the stacks.
The stacks shift as I select and eliminate pieces one by one. The quirky shawls whisper volumes to me. Intrigued, the entire pile remains in limbo.
Not wanting to be sidetracked, I continue. Hours pass and the collection is nearly complete. I attempt to tackle the last pile of shawls unable to eliminate or select even one. Fascinated, I realize I conjured up the weaver's complete persona.
I see an old woman hunched over the loom weaving the same style shawl for decades. Her life was far from easy and even if she once had a passion to weave, it was lost somewhere in time. One of the women blurted out "the lazy artisan!" I know this cannot be true and immediately see the beauty in each piece.
She is not lazy, but tired, distracted and laden with personal woes: an artisan who weaves her entire soul into each shawl. I finally make a choice and purchase the ones she created. Are they perfect? Absolutely not. They are, however, intriguingly beautiful. I see the perfection in the imperfection.
Accepting imperfection allows an opening for the appreciation of the handmade.
Wabi-Sabi: The Art of Imperfection