Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Value of Flaws

I’ve had an awakening to the value of flaws today.  After my inquiry yesterday, my neighbor who is a renowned fiber artist suggested, “Maybe you can just see the beauty in the aging of the linens, not worry about the holes and just hope they hold together for the next 25 or so years.”

I went ahead and took the linens to Beverly Cleaners in Old Town, where I spoke to the owner, Susan Kim, who has undoubtedly seen a lot of damaged material over the years.

She studied the number and size of the holes and with certainty recommended against the expensive reweaving in favor of patching the holes with material from one of the damaged napkins using a sewing machine.  The cost for patching a hole will be $6.  Reweaving would have cost $35.  So I left it all with her and told her to patch it up.  I probably could have done this myself, but I figure she has had a lot more experience than I have and the price is definitely right.

What I realized was that if I made those holes completely disappear, that part of the history of the linens would be lost, as though it never happened.  As much as I don’t like to admit to having mice in my house, the story of the hungry mouse adds a richness to this cloth which has been around for probably about 80 years.  Patched and stored more securely, I’m sure it’s good for another 80 years.  I’ll now have to write up the story of the patches and include that in the box.

It’s actually true of many things and even our own bodies that the flaws are what distinguish us from one another, the things that tell our personal history.  Just scanning my body,
-- I feel my titanium hip on the right side,
-- My tongue touches the back of my fake tooth which replaced the one I broke in a fall in Norway,
-- I see the faint scar on my leg where I landed on a nail when trying to jump hurdles in the 6th grade,
-- I see the tooth marks from an angry dog on my face from when I was just a toddler,
and so on.

I’ll bet each of you can name at least as many distinguishing features on yourself.  So why shouldn’t the tablecloth retain the flaws left by the mouse, all the while still being beautiful and quite functional?


Blogger Terry said...

Oh, I am so happy that this is the conclusion you came to. I have seen wonderful old linens and old quilts with patches on them. The patches are fine and part of the history. We stayed in a b&b in Germany many years ago. The sheets on the beds were beautifully hand-embroidered along the top edge. The embroidery was old and faded, but still lovely and the sheets were also patched many, many times. I was so glad they had chosen to continue to share the beautiful embroidery, even though it meant using old, patched linens.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'd imagine it's not going to be perfect, that you will have some an idea when you look at the linen. Even if you can't see the where, you'll know it's there. Most of my scars are barely visible to anyone but me. I wouldn't want to lose them, though.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Imperfections are beautiful! :)

9:45 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

I like this conclusion!

3:34 PM  
Blogger Merle Sneed said...

One thing people consistently do to mess up valuable collectibles is to try and restore them.

Flaws are both expected and add character.

9:44 PM  
Blogger bulletholes said...

That poor mouse! He must be starving.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Bulletholes -- I'm pretty sure he was the one I trapped in my kitchen drawer. He was pretty scrawny.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd be scrawny too if all I had to eat was table linens.

I think "imperfection" is a subjective and relative concept. I love knowing that our living leaves its marks on our bodies and souls! A sort of time-lapse record of experiences, lessons learned (or not), and a life being lived...



12:53 PM  

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