Saturday, July 24, 2010

Why Duende, if not for Joy?

Duende has been on my mind this week, as I find myself surrounded by Spanish things. There was, of course, the World Cup win. I'm participating in a cool blogcandy challenge on Floral Fantasies, where the blogmistress is cruising the Med and taking us along vicariously.
Today she's in Galicia, and I'm looking forward to following her down through Andalucia, birthplace of myself and, coincidentally, Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca, the poet who brought the concept of
duende into the international consciousness.
As creative concepts go, my favorite would have to be
duende. It's an ancient Spanish word that has come to mean, roughly, "soul" as defined in American Blues and expressed in Jazz. Deep, deep Soul: the pain within the pleasure, the joy within the struggle. More here.
When I think of the perfect physical representation of
duende I think of castanets, the hand-held percussion section of flamenco dance. Since it's not very likely that I'll get my chance to be a castanets carver journeyman, I decided to make a little book out of paper. For inspiration, I had Jean L. Connor, one of my favorite poets of all time. The last poem in her newest book, A Hinge of Joy (Passager Books, 2009), contains the fantastic line "Why castanets, if not for joy?" and I've had the idea for this book since the first time I read it. She never ceases to inspire me.
Here's a quick look at my final castanets book. It's actually a little smaller than actual castanets! I'm going to change the final design to be the correct size, but for now it sits happily in the palm of my hand.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

I was able to concave the paper slightly by using an easy dry debossing technique. The book just didn't look right completely flat. Notice the ribbon choice; anything not Spanish red and gold didn't look right either!


  1. what a lovely concept. I've not heard of it before but it resounds. And a beautiful project to celebrate it!

  2. This is lovely! Will it sit in a prominent place in your home? Very nice! Did you make the pattern up by yourself??


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