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Short Stories: Clam Shell Book

Sep 9, 2012

by odelae handmade and vintage goods

Here at Etsy, we believe that the story behind an object is often just as fascinating as the object itself. Short Stories is our series dedicated to telling the tales behind extraordinary pieces found or created by Etsy sellers.

Here’s odelae on her beautiful creation, the clam shell book:

The clam shell book was conceived during a walk on an ocean shore in March, 2011. The view: A roughly pebbled beach laced with whiplike bull kelp, a scattering of pearl-esque clam shells and the soft curling of stormy blue waves. In my mind: the tragedy of the Japanese tsunami  and the dreaded spread of the toxic waters across the Pacific. How to negotiate the seemingly healthy waters on my side of the ocean with the nuclear tragedy in Japan was strongly riding the waves of my thoughts (and still is). To me, the ocean and the life within is a giantess mother — so nurturing, powerful, healing and deeply moving. I hope to give something in return. My response is the clam shell book — an offering for all the ocean provides.

The act of sewing the broken halves of the clam shell into a book embodies a return to wholeness and relationship: two shells connected by a moving body of paper; two lands connected by the waves of the sea. I believe those who reside on the other side of the Pacific are not so distant or different from myself. We really are one breathing, thinking, loving body of people who depend on the health of our waters for sustenance.

Like the ocean, the clam shell book adapts itself to the beholder. It shifts its storyline from person to person. For some it is a tale of love lost or a memento for the passing of a loved one. For one French storyteller it holds magic and the weaving of words. For lovers it is a gift to their beloved on their wedding day, symbolizing the joining of two paths. And for writers and artists, it morphs into a small library of quotes or a gallery of pigmented compositions. But for me, it is a totemic vessel. I lovingly cup it in my hands, breath in its faint saltiness and paint the blank pages with my mind, offering up my prayers and promise for our future.

All photos by odalae.

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