Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "From Many Emotional Colors"

This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls. It fills the "Batik" square in my 9-1-19 card for the Arts and Crafts Festival Bingo. It has been sponsored by a pool with [personal profile] ng_moonmoth, [personal profile] fuzzyred, [personal profile] technoshaman, and je_reviens. This poem belongs to the Strange Family thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

"From Many Emotional Colors"

[Sunday, November 16, 2014]

The healers had recommended
gentle exercise such as walking
for physical and mental health,
so Genna and Dom went out
at least once a day now.

They were heading toward
Turquoise Reef Beach when
the scent of beeswax reached them.

Dom lifted his head, sniffing.
"Is someone finishing woodwork?"

"I don't know," Genna said.
"Shall we go and find out, or
would you rather minimize
social contact for now?"

"I'm curious, and I'm not
all peopled out yet," Dom said.

So they walked onward until
the beach opened up before them.

A dozen people had spread out
on the white sand with wooden frames
holding colorful lengths of cloth.

"Oh, a batik class!" Genna said.
"I didn't see that on the activity board."

"It wasn't scheduled, we just got
together and felt like doing batik
on the beach," the teacher said.
"Hi, I'm Aisar Mishra. Would
you two like to join us?"

"Dom?" Genna asked,
turning to look at him.

"Sure," he said. "I might
just sit and watch, though.
I'm not ... entirely confident
about my dexterity yet."

Genna knew that it
bothered him. There was
nothing physically wrong, but
sometimes his attention drifted
a bit and made him drop things.

"Batik doesn't have to be fancy,"
she said. "You can just cover a cloth
in wax, hit it to make cracks, and
pour the dye over the top."

"Sorry, we don't use paraffin
here, and beeswax is too flexible
to make crackle batik. You can get
a good crackle from soy wax, but we
didn't bring any today," said Aisar.
"Beeswax is very forgiving, though,
so it won't break if you jostle it."

Genna looked around at
the other artists. "So that's
how everyone is getting
such clean lines without
breaks in the pattern."

People were drawing
tropical fish and palm trees,
then painting the spaces.

One guy seemed to be
writing Arabic calligraphy,
and a girl was laying out
a verse in Dhivehi with
shimmering gold resist.

"Look, they have liquid resist
as well as beeswax," Genna said.
"That doesn't need heating, and
the bottles don't spill easily."

"Good idea," Dom muttered.

"You might consider trying
the seagrass style of batik,"
Aisar suggested. "That family
of patterns is all wavy lines --
you can't really do it wrong."

"I've seen that," Genna said.
"I wouldn't mind making a sarong
like that, if you have blue dyes."

"Cool colors are here," Aisar said,
pointing to a section of table
covered with small jars.

Dom shook his head.
"Maybe something
not so ... bright?"

"Earth tones are here."
Aisar pointed to another table.

"It's easy to make batik with
lighter and darker shades of
the same color," Genna said.

"We have some pre-dyed cloth
for that purpose," Aisar said.

"You don't think this is ...
too depressive?" Dom said,
weighing options in his hands.

"Love is like a batik created from
many emotional colors," Aisar said.
"It is a fabric whose pattern and
brightness may vary. Many of us
like to paint our feelings on fabric,
so there are no art rules here."

"Choose whatever colors
feel right to you today,"
Genna said. "If you change
your mind, you can always
make something else later."

So Dom chose a soft tan fabric
and some brown dyes to work with.

Genna picked a white cloth and
shades of indigo and turquoise.

"There are several styles
of stretching frame, with or
without legs to hold your work,"
Aisar said, leading them to a stack
of unused batik equipment.

They quickly picked out
wooden frames to use,
although several artists
had PVC frames instead.

Both of them set up together,
but Dom faced inland where
a line of beach grass tumbled
green and brown at the edge
of the sand, while Genna faced
the ocean with its turquoise water.

They had just begun tracing
the curved lines with melted wax
when a girl on the far side of Dom
started swearing at her art stand.

Without hesitating, Dom reached out
and flicked the handwheels to fasten
the stand in the desired position.
"There, all fixed," he said.

Then he stared at his hands.

"Muscle memory," Genna whispered.
"Remember, that stores differently
than personal narrative does."

"I guess I haven't lost as much
as I thought I had," Dom said.

"Not where it counts," Genna said.

* * *


Aisar Mishra -- He has light brown skin, black eyes, and short black hair. His heritage is Maldivian, Indian, and Indonesian. He speaks Arabic, Dhivehi, English, and Hindi. Aisar lives on Amilla Vazan, Baa Atoll, Maldives. He has Beach House #601 right next to Assembly Point 1. He loves working with people and inspiring them to try new things. Currently he works as a teacher of arts and crafts. Aisar dislikes cities, though, and rarely ventures into them.
Qualities: Good (+2) Batik Artist, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Inspiring, Good (+2) Interpersonal Intelligence, Good (+2) Teacher
Poor (-2) Not a City Boy

* * *

"Love is like a batik created from many emotional colors, it is a fabric whose pattern and brightness may vary."
-- Diane Ackerman

Due to dangerous currents, Turquoise Reef Beach is closed to swimming. Instead people use it for yoga (including group lessons and private lessons), plein air painting lessons, and other quiet activities.

Batik has a long history. It is a worldwide art, but especially popular in India and some island nations. It can be done with various types of wax including beeswax, paraffin, microcrystalline wax, soy wax, and so on. Another option is water-based resist. A blend of beeswax and paraffin is most popular worldwide. In T-Maldives, batik artists favor beeswax or soy wax over nonrenewable ones like paraffin. Some also like water-based resist. These types of resist create a distinctive style of art with fine crisp lines and no crackling. Common motifs draw on local inspiration such as tropical fish, palm trees, Indian paisley patterns, and the Maldivian pink rose. The flexibility of Maldivian resists also lends itself well to Arabic calligraphy. Batik is widely used to decorate sarongs and hijab scarves. Explore the tools and supplies for making batik.

Examples of batik include Arabic calligraphy, fish, pink roses, a palm tree sarong, and a paisley hijab.

Seagrass is a category of batik pattern characterized by loose, wavy lines that can stay parallel or cross over each other. It is a very forgiving pattern which may be more stylized or more representational. Seagrass may be dyed with a single round (white grass on colored background), two rounds (usually darker grass on a lighter background of the same color), or multiple rounds (colored grass on a different colored background). Sometimes it includes waves. It works both with dip dyeing and with painting inside individual sections.

This site has adjustable batik frames. A wooden floor stand like this one is also helpful, although setting the position can be finicky. Some people prefer a PVC frame, which is often cheaper and very easy to assemble because of the modular pieces.
Tags: art, crafts, cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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