When I started this blog I wrote a declaration of intentions. It included a mention about me publishing mood boards of things I find inspiring, but it never really happened.
I probably didn’t have a compelling reason to publish one. Since I started weaving this has changed. This old habit of mine has taken a new purpose. So here I come mood board on steroids.
This is the inspiration story behind my hand woven tapestries from the Beach Collection that you can find in Carousell (only in Singapore) and Etsy. It includes the images and videos that gave shape to my weaves but also the stories that they evoked. Enjoy!
Behind the scenes
It all started in my first weaving workshop at Hili Studio. I kept some purplish yarn from that day because it reminded me of the curly jellyfish tentacles I saw in Johanna Basford’s book Lost Ocean.
I think jellyfish are fascinating creatures. The one thing I wanted all the tapestries of this collection to have in common is some reminiscence of them.
This mesmerizing footage of a Portuguese man-of-war is from National Geographic. It’s worth checking the entire article but just this video will give you an idea of how mesmerizing I find them. The Portuguese Man-of-war is feared and terrible. It’s sting described as hot knives, but it’s actually not a jellyfish. It’s combination of 4 creatures although commonly refereed to as a jellyfish because its similar shape. Out of all real jellyfish, the most deadly one is the Box Jellyfish.
The Beach Collection mostly reflects my love for the seaside
The sights, textures, the sensations and my own experiences and memories inspired these 4 pieces. First I made Il Bagnio (the bath) then Jellyfish, Waves, and finally Sand (that’s still in the loom as you can see).
Il Bagnio (The bath) – A cherished memory
Growing up, the first bath of the season was a moment of anticipation. It was like a ritual. First walking down the streets in Marbella from my family’s old apartment to the beach. Then running as fast as we could on the burning sand to reach the safe zone, the part that’s wet and cool.
The freezing cold water of the first bath was always a shock. In shades of green with shimmering baby sardines here and there. The foam and the smell of fish. The occasional piece of fisherman nets and ropes from the boats that get washed to the beach. The white skin of the winter exposed for the first time to the sun. Sand everywhere. Wet, dry.
That’s what I tried to summarize in the weave. Green and white meets with shades of beige. It’s a sharp and quick moment, the lines are mostly straight and It’s a small weave with a small fringe of tassels or ryas.
The choice of Italian for the name is simple because I did some of the weaving listening to Pavarotti sing La Donna e Mobile from Rigoletto. If you have never seen this please don’t miss it, and look into his eyes!
White sand beach in Thailand. Now I go here more than to Marbella. It’s just closer to SG.
I was never a Yankee Candle fan until they gifted me this one. Now my house smells of beach
Green waves, white crests, dry sand, wet sand.
Inspiration behind Jellyfish
If you don’t go under the sea you miss half, if not more, of the beauty of it. The creatures that inhabit the under water are just mind blowing. The tropical corals, the fish, the non fish, the plants… they all have shapes that are round and very organic. Which I love. But there are also dangers out there.
Many years ago I was snorkeling in Nusa Penida near Bali, taking a break from diving with the mantas. I took my suit off and jumped to the water. The currents in the Bali area are unpredictable and very strong. In a matter of seconds I was surrounded by small pinkish jellyfish. I swam to the nearest boat (not mine) fearing for m life and getting at the same time small little stings ALL OVER my body. Including my face. It felt a bit like Marlin in that scene from Finding Nemo. I missed the last dive of the day obviously.
These Jellyfish were tiny but they can be some of the deadliest creatures on the planet. It’s no surprise they have a tendency to depict Aliens with shapes that resemble a jellyfish. They are creepy, lets be honest.
This guy below could be in any alien science fiction movie. The ones in the middle are actually from the movie Arrival. And who doesn’t remember the box jellyfish from the movie Seven Pounds? Scary. Fascinating but scary stuff.
Nature is beautiful and cruel. Jellyfish are really vulnerable physically so they have to defend themselves with strong neurotoxin. If you want to find out more about Jellyfish have a look at this article from howstuffworks.com. They are incredible creatures of imposible shapes and colors so they make great artistic inspiration. Just got to google images and type Amazing Jellyfish.
I wanted this Jellyfish weave to be long and thin and to hang from a piece of coral I found on the beach. So that it will be like a jellyfish and it will also have a jellyfish in the centre. What I didn’t want is to go full on with the colors, I wanted it to be very neutral. I imagined this weave hanging on the outside wall of a white beach house with a porch on stilts. Next to a mobile made of drift wood and coral pieces. Like those American movies.
Tentacles with little feathers. How beautiful is that!
Lake of the harmless jellyfish in Kakaban, Indonesia
Inspiration behind Waves
The sea has always fascinated as scared me at the same time. It was not until I did snorkeling for the first time that I lost part of my fear. It was the not knowing what goes on under the water, not being able to see, that drove it.
Truth to be said waves scare me. I love looking at the see from a hill or a cliff (I’m not scared of heights) or from the comfort of a bed or a sofa, but I will never go into the water if the waves are high or strong. Call me chicken.
Waves – Part of the Beach Collection. Available on Etsy and Carousell
The wildness of big waves inspired the shapes of the tapestry. I found myself staring at them and losing track of time in two recent occasions. In Tramore in Ireland (hometown of My Lovely Boyfriend The Troglodyte) and in Gansbaai in South Africa, a spot for whale watching.
High tide in Tramore Beach
I wanted to make the waves in the weave a little softer. Not like the rough Atlantic or cold Antarctic sea. The colors of the tropical beaches and corals in South East Asia inspired the selection of greens and blues and the softening for this tapestry.
Beautiful shot of green waves
Probably a retouched photo of some mushroom but did the job.
Inspiration behind Sand
Shaped and carved by the currents, smothered by the constant flow of water or wind. Ever changing, solid and fluid at the same time. I think sand is really beautiful in whatever form it takes. I love when it makes swirly patters with different colors or when it’s shaped in waves or ripples.
The inspiration for this one is very straightforward, but it was not so easy to execute. Choosing the colors and the shapes to make a harmonious but intricate combination, one that traps the eyes, took hours or work. But it might be my best piece so far.
I kept the tassels long and the tapestry short because it resembles more of a jellyfish like that. Curly tentacles all the way in this Beach Collection!
Oil paining of sand waves
Sand waves when the tide goes low
Beige and reddish sand mixing
Finally the Antelope Canyon in Arizona, USA is one of my biggest inspirations. Also one biggest regrets in life. The fact that as a teenager I decided not to go down the canyon because it was too much exercise kills me… Jesus! what was I thinking!
I hope I have the chance to go back again some day because I think it’s one of the wonders of Earth. The shapes, colors and textures. They all inspired the Sands weave too.
That’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed the first Inspiration story post.
Coming up next, the inspiration for Fisherman takes us to the south or Ireland.