Whether you've reached this blog willingly or by force I'm happy to have you here.
ersi marina's workroom is always open to the public, even when I am not in. Sometimes I need to sleep.
And to paint.
And to play with my four cats.
My name is Ersi Marina and I live in Spain though I was born and grew up in Athens, Greece. I kept it all very Mediterranean.
This blog is a means to share my work and snippets of my life, as well as to be in contact with you all. I hope you'll enjoy your visit.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

the stitch itch

Right now I am very happy, I feel so happy that I am smiling to myself. Yesterday I enrolled to an online course on contemporary embroidery!

I found Karen's blog quite by chance, so much so that I can't remember what drove me to it in the first place. But what a fortunate discovery that was! I am increasingly interested in fabrics and textile art, and when I saw that she will soon begin an online course on Embroider - Embellish - Create I knew I had to go for it.

I haven't embroidered anything in years. When I was little and the world was a different place (where more women had time and felt like creating wondrous treasures with needle and thread) one of my aunts taught me a couple of embroidering techniques. Maybe three. I have forgotten them all. I still keep some of my 'fabulous' works of that time: a couple of cross-stitched cushion covers, a table runner (I think it took me six months to complete) and the best of them all, a small runner? table cover? made with a technique I can't translate to English (if anyone knows how it's called, please leave a comment, I'll appreciate it):

I can't believe I made this! My aunt made the centre stretch of intricacies though and I can only take credit for the surrounding whatever-its-name-is.

Now what really engaged me about Karen's course is that it's about contemporary embroidery. My idea is to go on from there and incorporate embroidered fabrics in works of abstract textile art. Deconstructed cloths and designs, torn fibers, inclusion of paper - embroidered, painted, printed - and a long etcetera.

Karen's work is amazing and I think you'd love it too, whether you're interested in embroidery or not. It's a treasure trove of beauties. The course will start on 1 May and I can't wait for it to begin. I think what I learn there will have a major impact on my work, a whole new orientation. It means so much to me now, that I don't understand why I never took this path before.

I now have to buy the materials: fabrics, needles, an embroidery loop, a waste canvas... I am not going to write down the whole list here. It's just that I'm so excited about buying these magical objects! Will they turn me into a stitch witch? I certainly hope so.


Thursday, 22 March 2012

the days we never had

With a mixture of relief and perplexity, I am finally sending my 'burlap and feather' out to the world, as from now ignoring its alias and calling it by its final name: the days we never had

The feeling of relief is easy to understand. I was able to finish a work that has been torturing me for weeks. I put in the final touches, photographed it and carefully put it in a drawer where it will stay till it is eventually sold. Phew! That's a load off my mind.

The feeling of perplexity comes from the fact that the outcome is not what I expected. What do I mean? If I made this, how can the outcome not be what I expected? I have already written about this working process in previous posts: burlap and feather and work in eternal progress. It has been an intense, complex dialogue of sorts, and the work had too much to say. It sent me on a trip to my past, my childhood even, and smacked me on the face with bits and pieces (shreds?) of things that never were. Absences. Losses. It made me think and think again about each and every element of the composition, its meaning and its function. And my 'me' of today had an idea of how this work should progress and how it should look at the end.

The work had a mind of its own.

I meant to include more 'contemporary' elements like the hand-printed text on paper and the black & white photograph of the thorns, to break the romantic overall effect and create a greater contrast between past and present, nostalgia and reality as it is. I couldn't. I found no place for them, either on the composition or in my mind. I finally gave in and settled for what the days we never had wanted to be. A bitter-sweet statement with the accent on the sweet.

The actual artwork is 36 x 25 cms (14.4 x 10 inches) and it is mounted on a 47 x 31 cms (19 x 12.3 inches) piece of quality handmade paper.

I also used two pieces of deckle-edged, heavyweight handmade paper as a background for the composition itself. Both papers are roughly hand-stitched together with coarse twine. They are not meant to be perfectly parallel or adjusted to each other.

The feather became a symbol of love: soft, fragile and lovely. And dangerously prone to flying away! It is held in place by a strand of textured yarns and threads, that embrace it and tie it down at the same time. Haven't we all felt this way sometimes when we are with our loved one?

The burlap is the rough (yet beautiful) surface of our lives. Shredded at the edges, as our feelings and emotions can be torn on occasions.

The buttons are a symbol of everything firm and secure, the things we can rely on not to become unfastened.

The three white flowers are made with layers of white cotton fabric (underneath) and interlining, that I afterwards stitched together around the centre. If my work were titled 'Days of Wine and Roses', they would be the roses.

Even now, as I look at it, new questions and uncertainties come up. But it's finished, I can feel that. It says things about me that I'd probably rather not reveal (like that darn romantic side of my character) but I need to respect that. I don't like my nose either but I have to carry it around with me anyway :)

So this is the final version of this almost never-ending story - you can now find it in my Etsy shop - and I wonder what you think of it. Does any of the inner turmoil come through to the viewer? I'd really love to hear what you have to say.


Saturday, 17 March 2012

work in eternal progress

Hey there! Is anyone online on such a sweet Saturday afternoon? I'm not sure it's the best moment to blog but I'll do it anyway. I'll share with you the process of my work on 'Burlap and Feather'. It's not finished yet, so I'll keep that provisional name for practical purposes.

One maddening problem I almost always have when I create is that I am not satisfied with just making something nice or pretty. (Except, probably, when I work on my series for 'the young'.) No, I also need to know why I am making that particular piece and what it means to me. Where it comes from. And it's not always easy.

Understanding the meaning of each work also influences the materials I use and the overall composition. The trouble with Burlap and Feather is that I started out influenced by the materials, the fabrics, in this case. I was not the one guiding the process but I was being guided by it. That was all very well till the question popped up: why am I centering this work on fabrics? If this is more than just a decorative piece, what is the deeper reason for the presence of fabrics in it?

I haven't really found the answer yet but I did come up with a few more questions that may be pointing to the right direction. A sequence of free associations: fabrics - cotton - laces - house linens - home - family - affection, etc. This is my free association and it is not necessarily meaningful to everyone.

The thing is, I have no childhood experiences of fabrics and laces around the house, my mother hardly knew how to sew and had no time for crafting and needlework. She was a doctor and, since my parents divorced when I was two, coping with her job and being a single mother were demanding enough for her. So there are no memories of playing with fabrics and threads and buttons when I was little.

Why on earth do I need to do it now? Well, maybe to compensate. Maybe it is that part of me who wishes she had a stay-at-home mom with time and energies to play with me and teach me how to sew -among other things. I'm not sure this is the answer but it probably is or is close enough to it to help me take this piece a little further.

I stitched the background papers together using coarse twine and gathered the materials I initially planned on using: a recycled silk ribbon tinted in vintage tea shades (on the upper left) and a skein of textured yarns and threads (upper right). I also added a couple of white lace fragments I have been playing with lately.

I uncluttered my work surface and used a length of yarn and thread to 'wrap' the feather. This way, the feather is tied down and embraced at the same time. Don't we all feel this way sometimes when we are with our loved one? The feather could actually be a representation of love: something soft, fragile and lovely. And dangerously prone to flying away!

The new elements that appear on this last picture are still temporary. I did sew the three buttons in place but they can be easily removed and the tiny holes would be easy to disguise. I think the buttons will stay though, and so will the yarns that hang from them. They feel right. The white flowers on the right are just resting on the burlap and are free to go at any moment. I'm not sure they belong here but I like them. I made them with overlapping layers of white cotton (underneath) and interlining.

Work on this piece is so slow it exasperates me. I think I'm scared of it. That means it does stir things deep inside me and if I am finally capable of expressing them through art it will be quite a feat!


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

my little orange

I may as well state right away that 'it' is not mine, 'it' is not so little and 'it' definitely isn't an orange!

This is Naranjito (pronounced naranheeto), Little Orange in Spanish, and he is a street cat that I have been taking care of for the past couple of years. I love him dearly. He is handsome, he is intelligent and he is cuddly. He lives near my apartment and I take the five minute walk to his territory twice a day, to take him dry cat food and also those canned delicacies he relishes. Mmmm...

Not only does he recognize me but my car too! He probably knows the sound of the engine, because I really don't think he can read my license plates.

Little Orange went missing for almost ten days and I was losing all hope of seeing him again. That made me really sad, unreasonably sad and worried. I know that foxes roam the outskirts of the village at night and they are very bold. The may come within 20 metres (about 60 feet) of a human before they deem it wise to turn around and trot away. Because they trot, they don't run, they won't bother!

But my Little Orange showed up again yesterday afternoon. I was overjoyed to see him and I bet he was too, since he got an extra special ration of food! I think he's moved to a not-far-away house yard where there are many other cats (more than 20, they tell me!) and he probably feels safer there.

It's good to know you are fine, my little treasure, even if you choose to come by once every ten days!


Tuesday, 6 March 2012

burlap and feather

As soon as I wrote the title of this entry it made me think of 'Burlap & Feather, Private Investigators' or 'Burlap & Feather, Attorneys at Law'. But no. This is just the temporary title of a new work in progress and I have no idea what the final title will be or what the work will look like when I finish it. I am trying to convince myself that I will finish it though.

Burlap & Feather, Torments, Inc.

I usually bite off more than I can chew and this is oh, so painfully true as far as learning new techniques is concerned. Living in a very small, rural town does not help things either. Specialised workshops and courses are hundreds of kilometres away. Schools too, obviously. So there are many techniques I need to try to learn online: calligraphy, book arts and textile arts are the most important at this point. Learning alone at home is not so much fun either and this is an additional difficulty.

My original idea here is to stitch the two pieces of paper together with loose X-shaped stitches that will allow for that narrow space between them. And I am piling up other pieces of fabric and embroidery to add to the composition. I am trying to make a bizarre piece of deconstructed embroidery (that's the best adjective I can think up for it) and it's a crazy task. That may be a good thing, if I can come up with something satisfactory, since I like the idea of 'crazy' or 'irrational' seeping into my work. The feather will probably stay where it is but not necessarily kept in place the way it is now. And the square patch of patterned cotton will be in there somewhere too. I'll stitch it in place when I know for sure where it belongs.

This is my usual working process. I start with a vague idea, one that appeals to me, and take it from there. Or maybe I should say that it is the arwork that guides me on from there. I need to observe and listen to it, try to 'see through' it and discover what it is trying to say to me. It's a dialogue-in-process and the artwork has so much more to say than I do.

I hope I'll soon be able to post new photographs of the process or the finished work. Oh, and the definitive title, of course :)


Thursday, 1 March 2012

the tree and the city

Hello e-ve-ry one! I can't tell you how pleased and relieved I feel right now. Not only have I been able to create something new, in spite of my stubborn and frustrating creative block, but I am also writing a blog entry about it. So once again Alice in Wonderland is so very right: this is getting curiouser and curiouser.

the tree and the city

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I often buy one thing or another on Etsy, mostly supplies for my own work. I try to be wise and not overspend because, as most of you know, the temptation is great. Anyway, I have a long list of favourite shops and a short list of favourite favourite shops. And I must say I owe the inspiration for this artwork to one of my recent purchases: the Seafoam Recycled Silk Sari Ribbon from jmozart.

I was just playing with the ribbon, flattening it with my fingers to explore the fascinating secrets of its details, when the feel and texture of it suggested the idea of a tree trunk. So I took a piece of Khadi paper and placed my 'tree' right in the middle. The wonderful thing about inspiration is that, when it finally comes, I don't even have to think what I'm doing. My hands seem to know more than my mind does. So I immediately hand-stitched it in place. I had no doubts about its position and no doubts that I would know how to complete the composition.

When these magical moments occurr, I feel positively able to fly! The only reason I don't is because I need to stay on the ground to finish my work :)

So the following step was to paint the blotty forms of the buildings. I used acrylic gesso to add some texture and reserve white spaces at the same time and, once dry, I painted over it with acrylic inks. The outline of the buildings and everything else sewn onto the paper was hand-stitched using embroidery threads.

This is the upper part of the tree trunk where, while still feeling the ribbon, I discovered this wonderful patch of a different colour. Like a reflection of the sky. Can the sky be reflected on a tree? Well, it obviously can.

The roots are a bunch of threads I shredded from the ribbon. I also shredded the white gauze covering the buildings, to make it even more vaporous and frayed, like a thin veil of mist. I thinned some eco-friendly, acid-free pvc glue with water to help keep the roots and the gauze in place, because they are too sparse to hold them down with stitches.

And we're back at the top. I really like that aqua/teal sun/star thing on the sky. It makes sense.

I hope you like my little 'tree and the city'. I listed it in my Etsy shop yesterday. More works of textile art will follow. Mixted media, really, because I don't want to stop using paper as a supporting surface or other, non-fabric materials either.

Thanks for dropping in, I'd love it if you commented what you think of this!

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