Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Introducing Marian Smale

Let me introduce to you the wonderful world of Marian Smale's amazing garments from upcycled, vintage or handpainted/dyed materials.
Marian: 'Each piece is made with lots of love, enjoyment and attention to detail. It's important to me that it stands the test of time & wear'.
Sounds like music to my ears.

I had a little conversation with Marian through Etsy and I asked her some questions about herself and her work.

Babongo: What would you like the world to know about you?
Marian: I grew up on a remote farm in a very steep high hill country in NZ with native bush [forest] beside the house and a sense of nature being my closest companion/friend. From there I grew as a daydreamy sort of random creature who was always puddling away outside with the wealth of materials nature gives.....combined with a mum who was relaxed about kids and dirt!She was a great gardener and an early memory is of a little square patch in her garden she said could be mine and I can still picture the plants she let me choose from "her" garden to transplant and get mine started.
I was second of five children and as we grew our father took us more and more to help on the farm [outside school time]. This entailed very long horse rides and wonderful adventures "out the back" as we referred to the further reaches of the farm. Glorious, wild, free exhilarating adventures which quietly gave a sense of enormous empowerment. The contrast to this was my silent, still space where I would dream and ponder and create.
As I write I see how closely to this I still operate. I love contrasts and I'm not methodical in my creative process. Everything I make is some kind of adventure, be it long or short. I often begin with no idea where the journey will go. I value that process above almost everything in life. People come first and I suspect that hidden in everyone is the ability to create. To me it's a key, a thing of wonder and reverence that connects us to the great mysteries of life. A process to be guarded fiercely and nurtured and if one is lucky, to be shared with others. [I feel like this about other peoples creativity as well.]

Babongo: When did you start creating and what did you start with?
Marian: My earliest memory of sewing is of taking part in hand stitching a very small circle skirt for a doll. The fabric I can picture as tiny black and white striped cotton with posies of bright coloured flowers sprinkled across it. I'm not sure how old I was...maybe 4 or 5 years.

One of my darling grandmothers worked as a seamstress and although I don't remember her teaching me I know she was a huge influence. My mother also made lots of our clothes and taught us to embroider and do tapestry as well as sewing on an old treadle Singer sewing machine.

Another very early memory of making was of shaping two little clay birds [the clay was on the banks around the farm] leaving them to dry in the sun and then painting them bright colours with my watercolour paintbox. For some reason I did all this on top of the big concrete water tank that stored the rain water we used. At the end I left them there again only to be sadly disappointed the next time I looked that the rain had "melted" them! I've tried working in clay as an adult but without much satisfaction. Cloth and paint are my favourites and I never tire of experimenting.

Babongo: When did you first discover Etsy and what went through your mind when you did?
Marian: Etsy I was told about by a New Zealand craft website some years ago when I submitted some photos to them. I looked once but thought it very far away and at that time didn't have the computer confidence to have a go! [I didn't go further with the NZ one either]. I had remembered Etsy without looking again until when I joined.

Babongo: What are your dreams for the future?

Marian: My dreams are to live in the country again [I am currently living in town till my last child finishes school] and devote my time to creating and having a self supporting business on Etsy. Spending time with good friends and my family, doing some gardening, swimming in the sea or river in summer.