One of my favorite artifacts at Old World Wisconsin sits on a high shelf at one of the Finnish farms. Someone affixed bits of broken china to a crock—including a doll. Were the shards themselves treasured bits of something precious? Sad story. Was someone simply trying to make the crock more decorative with materials at hand? Happier story. Either way, it’s fun to wonder.

I’ve seen similar pieces elsewhere. Check out this one from  the collection of the Swiss Historical Village & Museum in New Glarus, WI.

Not too long ago, I traveled through Door County, WI, and stopped at a favorite cafe in Egg Harbor. I’ve visited several times, but only just noticed the decorative work on a couple of benches and a manhole cover just outside the door.

The pieces are unexpected, funky, cheerful.

I started to go back inside to ask the proprietors the story behind the artwork… but I decided not to. It’s more fun to wonder.

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4 Responses to “Shards”

  1. Arletta Dawdy's Blog Says:

    What fun mosaics…even if the archaeologists might not agree on the old pieces put to such use. At a memorial for a friend, we picked out bits and pieces of her life (keys, library card, pictures, etc) and embedded them in a free form cement bench in a favorite garden spot.

  2. Sue Says:

    I wonder if the creation of those pieces of memory pottery was common in the colonial and frontier era? We recently came across a similar piece of pottery on display at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Williamsburg. It wasn’t particularly attractive per se, but was very moving when we thought of what it must have symbolized for the creator.

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      How interesting! I’ve never seen one from that period. But as you say…we can only imagine what it meant to the creator. At a time when personal possessions were few, it would be a special way to hang on to a bit of something important. Thanks for sharing.

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