Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Magical Sea Turtle Kauila

(wax carving~copyright 2010 Melissa Luce)

Living in a freshwater spring, 
Kauila always kept a watchful eye
on the children (keiki.) She loved
the keiki so much that sometimes
she transformed herself into a little girl 
so she could play.

I started working with K back in April, and have been enjoying polishing silver and fixing blemishes on her beautiful silver sculptures. Working with K has been very inspiring and I had/have many ideas about designs. One day, while looking through a magazine, I saw a photo of a baby leatherback sea turtle heading towards the ocean. It looked so vulnerable and brave, and the shape was beautiful to me. I started by drawing different designs and learning more about the turtles--both biologically and storywise. When I heard the Hawaiian myth of Kauila, the magical sea turtle, I knew I wanted to create a sea turtle pendant. 

Then the Gulf Oil Disaster happened, and every day I was getting emails about the difficulties these turtles were facing--all 7 species on the endangered list--now being covered in oil and their nesting grounds at risk. And again calls the story of Kauila, who lived in a freshwater spring and watched over the children. My interest in creating the pendant increased as this magical turtle seemed a beacon for our times. The importance of clean water is becoming more and more apparent as we continue to pollute. We need to nurture the sources of clean water, for our sake and for our children as well as the animals who depend on it.

So I started carving, with advice and tools borrowed from K. I had never carved anything before, and I would practice on spare pieces of wax until I became competent at some aspect of technique. I decided I liked one of my practice pieces, and so took that to near completion (as a leatherback turtle.) But then the design seemed too complicated and I found out that Kauila was a Green sea turtle--a hardshell not a leatherback, and so I began again on the original piece, this time turning it into a green turtle with the characteristic hexagonal pattern. This whole process took several months as life would distract me or I would feel intimidated by the process (and the prospect of ruining what I had started.) And all the time, the sea turtles were suffering for lack of clean water and sand. It felt important to get the turtle finished. 

Well I just found out, the first rehabilitated oiled sea turtles were released into the Gulf today. And I just finished one more pass over all the lines on my little sculpture tonight. We will send the wax to the caster this week who will turn the wax into silver. As soon as it's ready, I will be contacting sea turtle conservation and protection groups to see if they are interested in partnering with us to help raise money for sea turtle protection and research. I'm aware of the Sea Turtle Conservancy,, and Save the Sea Turtles International, but if anyone knows or has personal experience with any Sea Turtle groups, I would be interested in hearing about them.

Thank you and look for Kauila at K Robins Designs very soon,