Creativity and Pandemic

Jerry Saltz, author of How to Be an Artist, writes, “Isolation favors art.”

It’s true. I work best without human distractions, but isolation isn’t enough. Time, too, is necessary.

Last night, I had time for this: I cut a quarter head of red cabbage and put the chunk into a pan with about an inch of water. I put on the lid and brought it to a boil. I turned the burner down and let it simmer for a while. I ate the cabbage with my dinner.

When I took the cabbage out of the pan, I noticed two things: the patterns on the bottom leaves were lovely on my plate, and the water left in the pan was a rich winey red. I couldn’t let that water go to waste.

After dinner, I got into my basket supplies and teased out a length of quarter-inch flat reed. I coiled it as tightly as I could to fit it into the small pan. The cabbage juice didn’t cover the coil. I added water and set the pan on the stove. I boiled the coil. If I were a better scientist, I could tell you how long I let it boil, but just know it was long enough to see some color happening in the reed and short enough I didn’t boil the water completely away.

When I took it off the stove, I added enough vinegar to cover the coil again, put on the lid, and left my experiment overnight.  This morning I was rewarded with lovely pink reed, the color strong enough to sit between two strands of smoked reed to make a chain pattern.

During this scary time, when my daughter and her family are quarantined and recovering, I will take the gift of time and distraction from what scares me most, and I’ll make a basket.

As they say on PBS’s Gallery America, “Try to put a little bit of art into everything you do.”

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