Tsunami survivors create beauty from brokenness!
Lorelei VerLee—Executive Director of CWOW
Seventeen years of my childhood were spent in Japan and every summer we vacationed in a beach community near Sendai in northern Japan. I remember hearing my Japanese friend from that area talk about a time in the mid-50’s when a tsunami lifted up the house she lived in and moved it several feet over while she was in it! She was so scared but she and her family survived. How could we know that decades later in 2011 another tsunami would come that destroyed tens of thousands of homes and swept thousands of lives out to sea. My heart stopped when the 7.2 earthquake that shook for over five minutes was announced on our news. Part of my family still lived there but even though they were in Tokyo, hundreds of miles from the epi-center, they felt the unimaginable impact. Suddenly everyone knew Japan would never be the same. I found that to be true on my visit in January and February two years later. As kids we were used to frequent earthquakes and knew the rituals to follow but when you combine the magnitude of that earthquake along with the subsequent tsunami and radiation leaks, people felt extremely vulnerable and powerless. Every aftershock revived the tension closely held inside. Their culture does not lead them to express emotions easily.
On this trip I was able to visit Ishinomaki, one of the most severely devastated areas. On the way there I went right through Matsushima where the nuclear plants still have major radiation concerns. I drove by large areas of land with nothing but weeds where hundreds of homes had once stood. I saw the school where families had run for protection but it too was flooded by the ocean waters. The stench of rotting fish, people and garbage that lingered for months had dissipated but the spirit of the town carried a lot of pain.
In the midst of this disaster scene I was invited into a small art studio in a home where smiling Japanese women of all ages sat on their knees on the tatami floor around a low table. They were part of a cooperative named Nozomi, meaning “Hope” and whose motto is “beauty from brokenness”. Colorful, broken pottery shards had been salvaged from the rubble washed back up on shore and their skillful hands were creating beautiful pieces of jewelry from them. They began by grinding the edges of the shards to eliminate any sharp edges and carefully attached attractive bales or findings. I was amazed to watch them carefully match the colors of the shard with beads that they hand tied into place around a necklace. They looked for complementary designs and shapes for sets. They carefully chose the names of the designs in honor of someone who survived the tsunami or in memory of loved ones who did not. Then with each finished product they proudly signed an artisan card that they knew would connect them to a woman who would advocate for them around the world.
Creative Women of the World is delighted to partner with this amazing group of women. We want you to know their stories, not just of their tragedy but of their courage, their strength and their creativity. By purchasing their artwork you have the power to let them know they and their loved ones will not be forgotten.
Yuzu Necklace 1
Fresh-water pearl strand with sea-foam green pottery shard pendant.
Yuzu Necklace 3
Fresh-water pearl strand with Imari-style blue & burgundy pottery shard pen
Nodoka Necklace 1
Beaded and leather cord necklace with blue flower design pendant
Nodoka Necklace 2
Beaded & Leather Cord Necklace with elongated blue and brown pendant
Nozomi Ring 1
Adjustable, silver-toned ring /white pottery shard with red flower design
Nozomi Ring 2
Adjustable, gold-toned ring with navy pottery shard with blue flower design
Nozomi Earrings 1
Blue pottery chard on gold-toned french ear wires.
Nozomi Earrings 5
White pottery chard with red leaf design on silver-toned french ear wires
Nozomi Earrings 7
Sky blue pottery chard on silver-toned french ear wires.
Yuzu Necklace & Earring Set
Gold Tone Fresh Water Pearl, Gray Pottery Neclklace and Earing Set
Tomoko Necklace & Earring Set
Gold Accented Gray Pottery Pendant Necklace with Matching Earrings
Misaki Necklace & Earring Set
Silver Accented White Pottery with Blue Leaf Design Necklace and Earrings
Rumi Necklace and Ring Set
Silver Tone, Necklace and Ring Set Features Blue and White Floral Design