When I first saw her, it was like someone had captured a piece of art. Her hair was outlined by a halo of the afternoon sunlight. She appeared delicate, like a seed that a light breeze would send tumbling, a great contrast to the solid trunk on bench seat next to her. Hands moving deftly, her attention stayed solely focused on her work. There was no sign that she had heard me approaching; she had not looked up once as I had drawn myself closer to her table.
Only when I stood above her did she speak, mumbling as if she did not want to startle the leaves. “Just a minute, I’ll be with you in a moment.” Her words rang with such solidarity that I wondered where she thought she was now. I heeded her form of a greeting and waited, curious as to what task demanded her undivided attention.
Her workbench may have once been a part of a resting area on a trail that stretched miles and has long since been abandoned to be reclaimed by the wilderness that it once was. Someone once thought that the forest would need to welcome visitor and wanders, but very few people were willing to walk the paths for miles to reach the breathtaking scenes that few knew existed. The only attraction for those who live here was the river, down at end of the mountain trail. It had been the tentative destination of my bored wandering before the girl at the table caught my eye.
She seemed to blend seamlessly into the surrounding nature as if she was made there. With her back to the trail, she sat looking out over the treetops below. I could see a sprinkling of the river through the trees. It was not quite blue but had enough of a contrast to look like a crack in the sea of the usual green. The season made it seem like the cool gusts had caused the tips of the highest leaves to catch on fire. More than twice as far as the river the trees broke again, this time giving way to fields
There were trinkets, all sorted by a seemingly random system, forming an arch starting to her left and continuing to the far side of the table. Nothing was larger than a penny, and each piece was a work of art itself. Skeleton keys that could fit only a fairy door were lined up by their shade of gold or silver finish, and thin wire wrapped into outlines of many shapes such as fish and trees. A natural rainbow as wide and twice the length of my palm of flowers, mostly roses, sat directly in front of her work area. Tiny glass bottles filled with even smaller crystals were dispersed throughout, but there was a cluster of empty vials towards the end of the arch.
Within the reach of her other nimble hand were sheets and strips of paper. The variety ranged from weighty pulp with flowers pressed into them to sheer slivers of crinkled crèpe. Paper gave way to bobbin upon bobbin of lace, some still attached to the thread used to make them.
The materials were matched with a solid working area that was cluttered with bits and pieces from the selection. It was shaped like a landscape picture frame, only with two rectangular compartments on all sides but her own. All of them were open, the small latches lolling back against the doors. One side held matching gold-filigree handle scissor and plier, while another held a watercolor palette in one and a selection of brushes in the other. The long side opposite her had a hollow for the stem of the calligraphy pen I saw among the clutter. The compartments that flanked it had groves and depressions for nibs and jars of jewel-tone inks.
“Alright, there's the last touch.” She put the object of her devotion down and looked up at me. “Hello, nice to meet you. Is there anything I can help you with, or were you just curious?”
“Just curious. What were you just making?”
“I’m making the landscape, but I think I’m done. There is nothing else I can do to it. Do you think it’s too much.” She gestured to the canvas fitted in the middle of her work area.
The painting, if it could be called that, perfectly captured the view we had from the overlook in a burst of texture. Crystals made up the brighter green areas of the foliage, but the dark paint base could still be seen through the lighter transparent colors. Burning tips of the trees were represented by roses in warm tones and were slightly raised off the page. The river was overlapping strips of paper that varied from blues to browns with hints of jades, and the edges of the paper were covered by some of the hanging branches.
“That is amazing, but why not paint the landscape instead? If you can make it with these pieces, surely you could recreate it with a more practical material choice,” I inquired about her medium.
“There are plenty of people that paint better than I ever will. Everyone has something unique about them, I am just one of the lucky ones that found what I should do with mine. There is someone in the world that wants what I can make, and I’m the only person in the world that has combined these materials in this combination to portray this scene. I love this life, even though I struggle to find one of the few that will take my art. This is how I make my living.”
She thrust a business card towards me. It was forest green and riddled with embellishments much like her painting. There were tiny ribbons of gold vellum across each corner, with delicate black script across the narrow strips. In the center lay raised gold words, “The Craftsman” with more minuscule letters underneath. Tiny black swirls fell from the tails of the letters on each end and some formed stems for gold paper roses the size of a water drop.
“Amazing, the writing is so tiny,” I said as I leaned in to take a closer look. “Can it even be read?”
“Here, take it.” She directed me to hold the card, and then she turned back around towards her table. Just a moment later she produced a magnifying glass that matched her other gold tools and handed it to me. It felt cool and light in my hand, as just the lens was considerably smaller than my palm.
The smaller text was an unorthodox description of her occupation: I create the world, not for efficiency, but how I know to make the world I see.
I still have the card. She had every other piece packed into her trunk within minutes of deciding her painting was finished, and then she told me there was no space for the card. Someday, I will use it to find her and show her what I have done. My creations are not as unique as the ones she showed me that day, but I live to stand out from the rest in the way that I want. It does not matter if I am right, just to be heard is enough. She inspired me to use more than what another would use to paint the same picture. We all have our own pallet.
So, when I see her again, I will ask if I can commission a card of my own. How it looks will be up to her, as it is how she makes her living. All I know is that my gold script will say: I describe the world with words used uncommonly, and I used them to describe the world as only I see.