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  • janenewaudby

Hey Barbie - check out my spoon!

My Great Auntie Barbie was notorious in our family. She had unfeasably large bosoms, for a start. She was a truly dreadful driver - always putting on her seatbelt when she was half way down the road - not easy with the aforementioned bosoms - she had a lot of accidents. She was utterly unlike all the other the tidy and precise members of her family - being clumsy and incredibly messy. If you stood still in her kitchen, you might stay stuck to the floor. Mind you, she had the constitution of an ox. So whereas other members of the family stayed clean and died early, she carried on regardless. Perhaps due to her intractability, she remained unmarried. My mum loathed her - never quite forgiving Headmistress Barb for bullying her at primary school.

We knew her as in this photo - bright dresses, stout, messy (its me on the right). She really didn't change much until she died in her 90s, around 40 years after this photo was taken. The thing is, I suspect Barb and I are rather alike. Mercifully, I avoided the bosoms and I can cook without poisoning the guests, but we have the exact same passion for making things - jam, jumpers, pots, plates .... journeys....

Along with her sister, Dot, I wish she was around now because she would love where I live now - and the pottery studio. I first tried pottery because I knew Barb had loved it, so I thought I might too. But while she was alive, I still had an office job and she died before she could share the great change. Maybe that's why I have kept her ashes - so she can come along as a part of this journey.

Anyway, the point of this is to tell you about my spoon. Before Barb died, she left me her woodworking tools. Woodworking was one of her many "making things" passions. She would collect and sculpt driftwood and I have quite a few of her creations around still. Making "something out of wood" has been on the list for a while, and since I have "the fear" of smokefiring at the minute, this seemed like a good diversion. I grabbed a piece of silver birch firewood from the pile, and made the spoon.

In two days of messing around, I learned some new skills (the basics), and gained a new love to sit alongside the work with clay. More subtly, I found myself affectionately communing with some of those ghosts that sit in our DNA. It was like whiling away some hours with Barb. I can't say I felt her sitting on my shoulder, but its true to say that we never truly die until we are forgotten, and so Barb lives on with me. I guess each time I work in wood, it will be the same - she will come closer. Its in much the same way that when I see a bird, I see it for me, but also for my grandma Dot.

So to you, this is just a little wooden spoon. To me, this is my first new love and an expression of who I am. I am a person who strives to make beautiful things. I have Auntie Barbie to thank for that. .

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