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  • April Gavin

Diversity vs. Conformity

Love empowers diversity. Fear empowers conformity. I saw this sign at the encampment at the University on/off-ramp. The statement hangs out in my head and think on how many times I've allowed fear to inform my life. Did I turn towards conformity to relieve my fears? These days when I feel fear, I ask myself instead what would it be like to not be afraid. Oddly enough, diversity shows up and I no longer feel afraid. Curious if this statement opens any thoughts for you.


Earlier this month, I made myself new curtains. But, not any new curtains...

I've been teaching myself batik and felt ready to try the process on a larger functional piece. First step was to dye my muslin this lovely yellow. Second step was to draw my design on the fabric. I used a Japanese pattern that I've always admired and recently learned how to do. Using a canning jar lid and a fabric marker, I drew the interconnected circles. The fabric for these curtains was about 44" inches wide by 60" long.


I then waxed the entire fabric using soy wax using a biscuit cutter. If you ever try this, start with smaller amounts of wax. Too much wax gets messy and remember you have to remove it all.


Next step - I painted this lovely brown dye on the fabric. The waxed parts resist the new color. It was fun to this outside with the birds chirping all around me.


After the dye cured, I then had to remove the wax. This is not as easy as books/you tube videos made it sound. I ironed out the wax between two paper bags with many changes of paper bags. Then I washed the fabric in hot water. Then I cleaned wax out of the washing machine. Zero fun but it needed cleaning anyway. Then I ironed it again. The finished product is lovely and I'm proud of the work, but the fabric is pretty stiff and still has a yummy waxy smell.


I'm already planning to do another set for the living room. Practice does make better.


The changes we're all going through both with the pandemic and the call to work on the elimination of racism create this weird mix of anxiety/hope for the future. A lot of this work has been physical like the toppling of statues. Not entirely sure, but I bet Germany doesn't have statues of Adolf Hitler to remind them that he existed. Why do we need statues of Christopher Columbus or Jefferson Davis?


One of the more obscure statues to be forcibly removed was Francis Scott Key. He used a tune from an old English song about getting drunk and debauching virgins, slowed it down, and wrote the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner on top of the tune. The song has real problems musically, historically, and oh gosh all sorts of problems.


Were I president, I would change this national anthem to something way more pretty and appropriate. Submitted for your approval, Buffy Sainte-Marie's version of America the Beautiful. She took the original tune, slowed it down, and added her own lyrics. Give it a try.


More coming soon!



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