Wednesday, October 26, 2011
When I was little and used to spend a lot of time swimming in tidal pools, one of the things I really had to watch out for was what we call, "Wana" or Hawaiian Spiny Sea Urchin (pronounced "Vana" with a "V"), Oweeeee should you step on one! Luckily I never did because locals claim that the remedy should be urinating on the area affected. Or is it rub meat tenderizer?...or is that for treating a sting from a Portuguese Man-o-war? I forget...which is what happens when I don't return to Hawaii often enough. But forgetting is probably a good thing because neither are medically appropriate!
Wana, in its natural environment, can sometimes be hard to see when you are in the water. After all, they are dark with dozens of long, sharp black spines and sometimes are practically invisible against the black volcanic rock in which they live on. Resembling a porcupine but can be as large as a hedgehog, they are not only situated in holes, but on the surface of the reef just where you think it is safe to put your bare foot! In some places, no matter where you want to put step, there is Wana. It was always troublesome from me because with my near sightedness, they were hard to see. I could swim far out to a reef, but if I had my contacts in, I coudn't open my eyes under water to figure out where it is safe, and if I didn't have my contacts in, well, I still couldn't see and I always had the heebie jeebies when I had no choice but to blindly put my foot down. They can look very intimidating, especially knowing the pain they can inflict when the spines become embedded into your soft flesh.
When alive, their symmetry is not obvious, however when dried, their hardened shells can bleach out naturally and become a dull color of olive, brown, purple, red, white or light gray, and their endoskeletons display eccentric rings and circle patterns. They become transformed into objects of beauty.
My latest of the Hawaiian Quilt Series is simply called "Sea Urchin." Rather than just one, each fleurette is actually four sea urchins with the center representing the underside of the urchin where the mouth is located. There are many different kinds of urchins, and very much like my Hawaiian Ginger pattern, I'm pretty sure this won't be the only sea urchin design I will be creating.