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The human being, creature of eyes, needs the image. Leonardo da Vinci

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Imprint: The Thumbprint on the Clay - Luci Shaw

Imprint: The Thumbprint on the Clay

by Luci Shaw 
 
I’m a collector of hand-thrown clay pottery. Around my house I have what I consider a fabulous collection of bowls and jugs and individual mugs, all in subtle earth and glazed jewel tones. I love them all, the look of them, the feel of the shapes in my hand, each of them the result of combining earth and human eye and muscle–some hand built, some from the wheel, some with the thumb-print signatures of the potters themselves on the mug handle or the bowl base. I know where each unique piece came from, from which potter I purchased it, and when. That Galliano Island potter in the woods two years ago. The friend who died last year just after removing his fired pieces from the kiln. My brother-in-law on Bainbridge Island. The why of my choices is nearly always implicit; an aesthetic appeal or shape or function that corresponds to my need, my impulse, my desire.
 
Each of these pieces bears the evidence of intentionality and human art. The thumbprint, like the finger-print, is for me a singular clue to human identity. A thumb print leaves a more powerful impression than a finger print because there is a greater weight of hand and arm and muscle behind it. And that’s only one reason this image carries such energy for me.
 
If each human thumb print is unique, God’s is even more so—the original thumb-print on the universe, seen in the whorls of suns and planets in space, in the nebulae, and closer to home, in the fractal patterns of trees and crystals, of deserts and rivers and oceans, and in the wild profusion of color and texture and design displayed in plants and animals. It’s a creative complexity unmatched within the known universe.