Spotlight: Mariana Murabito, Textile Artist, Weaver and Embroiderer
In her journey from web and graphic design to weaving, Mariana Murabito discovered the joy of creating images by hand with warp and weft on the island of Mallorca. She creates large tapestries for the wall, but also makes small works of art to wear on your wrist.
How long have you been weaving? How did you get started?
I’ve been weaving for about 6 years and once I started, I never stopped. I was eager for creating, weaving and learning.
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At that time, I had a web development company. I worked in web design for almost 16 years and also as a freelance graphic designer. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with online media, so I decided I wanted to make something more artisanal to balance the rhythm in my daily life. So, I chose a technique that has always fascinated me, LOOM WEAVING.
I bought a little loom to play around with and once I realized all the possibilities the technique offers, I took a 3-month workshop at Openstudio79 (the place where I have my studio now!). It was magical, and when the workshop finished, and because of my interest, my teacher lent me a rigged heddle loom so I could practice. And after a year I bought my own…
What inspires you? Are there recurring themes in your work?
At the very beginning my inspiration came from the place I live in, Esporles, a small village on the Tramuntana mountains in the island of Mallorca. I have to say living here had really influenced my early work. I liked to depict the shine of the seashore, the cliffs, and the sunsets.
So, I started weaving that kind of bright landscapes and that’s also how I started to work with metallics…but I can’t say I have a recurring theme. All the time I’m trying new things that lead me to new shapes and ideas. I’m also a super fan of the Bauhaus weavers. I think those women were amazing and changed the history of weaving forever… definitely, their lives and work are very inspiring to me. Weaving is an ancient craft.
How do you make it innovative?
Actually, I don’t think I have to innovate, that’s the point for me. As I say in the “about me” text in my website, I like to think that I chose one of the oldest technologies used by man, and my wish is that the flame will never die out.
I guess I’m being innovative just by changing pixels and bytes into looms and threads, rush and hurry into calmness and patience. I may sound like a dreamer, but I think we all need to slow down and be more thoughtful…I’m not against technology – I think it is part of the progress, but the point is how we make the most of it in a sane way.
How does your studio organization contribute to your work process? What does it look like?
I have a cozy corner at the loveliest studio I ever dreamed about — I’m working where I took my first weaving class! I’m sharing the place with Tatiana, the founder of the studio. She is a great visual artist and natural dyer, and the place it’s just perfect for me.
I’m surrounded by beautiful and inspiring things. Regarding the organization, I have to admit I’m a bit peculiar with it! I like to have the threads in a certain order, and I need to control where everything is and blah blah blah 🙂 and at Openstudio79 I always felt I’m in my element, because from the very beginning I was given complete freedom to organize my corner. I was extremely lucky.
Are there indispensable tools and materials in your studio? How do they improve your work?
Yes, a few years ago I started making tiny tapestries that later developed into bracelets. They are my best-selling product, so I had the need to improve the production process in order to balance price and profit. I designed a very tiny rigid heddle reed which I printed in 3D; this custom-made tool lets me produce the bracelets in a timely manner. Besides that, I have “tools” that I take from home and that are basic to me (and I guess for most of the weavers as well) such as combs and forks that I use as beaters.
What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes your work stand out as yours?
Because I design wall-hangings and I work on a rigid heddle loom, I guess the result is an extremely thin cloth and that is not very usual on tapestry. Also, I always incorporate a bit of sheen with metallic threads in my work, mainly golden Japanese threads, both in the bracelets and in the big pieces. Even if I’m working with a colorful or a more neutral or monochromatic palette, I always include that spark of gold. Anyway, I think every artist who works honestly will leave their imprint in one way or another in every work.
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, movies? What kind?
Most of the time music. I love music and I’m a kind of eclectic listener…from punk to classical or jazz, it depends on my mood. Every morning, when I arrive at the studio, I listen to a classical radio program called “Sinfonía de la mañana” on Radio Clásica. While I’m planning my workday and making a cup of coffee, I never miss it 🙂 And finally, silence…I could spend a whole morning weaving in silence…it’s like meditation for me. Silence is as important as music.
Do you think that creativity is part of human nature or is it something that must be nurtured and learned?
I think every human is born creative; we are creative by definition. What happens when we grow up… that’s another issue. But I won’t dwell on this – I will be concise and say just YES, we are born creative!
What are your earliest memories involving your own creative expression?
Hahaha…I remember this one quite clearly! I was 10 and I did a very surrealistic drawing in pointillism style for my art class at school. It was completely different from my classmates’ drawings, so I was ashamed of showing it. Then my father wisely told me that I should be confident and believe in it, that the teacher would understand and value the work, and she definitely did, because it was chosen to be shown in the annual school exhibition and I was immensely happy…I will always remember this cute anecdote. Besides that, I think I had always been creative, in my life in general, I mean, solving small problems at home or making something to wear, decorating my place or whatever, I think they are, in one way or another, part of my own creative expression.
When embarking upon a project, do you pre plan your entire endeavor or do you simply follow where your inspiration takes you?
I have to admit I’m extremely intuitive when I’m working. I can draw a basic draft and that’s it, then everything just flows. Of course, I plan the size and the basic color palette of the project, but from there I go where that specific weaving takes me. I always wanted to work on something secure and precise, first making the sketches and so on, but after trying this approach several times I just realized that it wasn’t working for me, so I decided to work more spontaneously, as I feel more comfortable and natural.
Do you focus on one piece from start to finish or work actively on more than one project at a time?
I only work on one big piece at a time, switching to bracelets from time to time so I can let the big one rest for a while. In this way I can refresh my process and movements.
How has your work changed over time?
I see a change in the shapes I depict rather than the texture…I started making very organic landscapes, with soft and curvy silhouettes using mostly light and pastel colors. Now, I’m more into linear and geometric designs. I’m also experimenting with plain and primary colors and reaching contrasting results that I really like. It’s interesting how I implement colors in weaving. It has never been so easy and satisfying to me to make color combinations than with threads, fibers and yarn, especially because as a graphic designer implementing colors was the trickiest part of the process…
If you were no longer able to use the medium that you are now working in, how else would you express your creativity?
What is most challenging about being a textile artist?
Being a textile artist in a hi-tech era!!! Nowadays you can do anything with an app, but not many young people know what a weaving loom is, and by the way, I’m not that old! 😉 Finding the audience that would appreciate the worth in my work so I can make a living out of my weaving designs and being self-employed is definitely challenging, especially when you need to reconcile family life with creative work. Anyway, I’m extremely lucky because I have the complete support of my family. You need to be patient, work hard, and be consistent. It’s a life choice.
Do you sell your work? If so, where can people find it?
Yes, I do. My work can be found at my Etsy shop or you can get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, if you live in Mallorca or come here on holidays, you can visit the studio in Palma, in the lovely neighborhood of Santa Catalina. OpenStudio79 is on San Magí 79. You will always be welcome, and we love to meet our customers personally. Also, to stay in touch with the latest news you can follow me on IG @marianamuravito
Interview with Mariana Murabito posted June 2019
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