I open the envelope. The pieces fall out like snow on a cold winter’s day. They scatter across the table, a puzzle waiting to be solved.
I pick up a piece, examine it, and replace it, right side up. I repeat the act a couple dozen times. Once they are upright, I begin to create the puzzle’s outer edge. Then the middle begins to fill. Minutes turn to hours, the puzzle is complete. The poor document has been recreated, but not resurrected. My paintbrush shall fix that.
I pick up my brush. It has never touched paint, yet is always creates a picture. I use my brush to dampen thin Japanese paper with cellulose paste, affixing the strip to hold two pieces loosely together. I repeat and repeat until complete.
The document is reattached, but not yet resurrected. Gently, I turn my puzzle over. Again I pick up my trusty paintbrush and dampen slips of the delicate Japanese tissue. This time I seal every wound the precious document has, gently weighting down the freshly mended seams. I do not desire to further wrinkle and weaken this treasure!
Evening comes and I must retire. Overnight, the cellulose dampened wounds re-adhere; the valuable tissue strengthens the battered paper.
Morning comes. Lead weights, blotting paper, and spun-polyester sheets are removed. Again I gently turn the document over. I take my paintbrush, dip it in water, then removed my temporary holding strips and covering the spots with blotting paper.
I finish. I remove the blotting paper. A feeling of joy overwhelms me. Hard work, skills, and determination paid off. The completed puzzle sits on the table staring back at me. It is mended; it is whole; it is resurrected.
Once unreadable, once unusable, I now see the image of an elegant certificate. Elegant calligraphy adorns the middle; some printed, some handwritten. The edges form a patriotic pattern; American symbology mixed with Greco-Roman influence.
With pieces of a puzzle, and a paintbrush that doesn’t paint, I recreated an image of the past. I mended a decorative certificate that once belonged to a politician of a bygone era in my state’s history.
Edit: Evening 12/3/12; I added an image since I originally forgot one. Apologies.
2 thoughts on “A Puzzle and a Paintbrush That Doesn’t Paint”
Nice story about the magic of librarianship.
Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the post!