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Saturday, August 25, 2012

An artisan with fabulous surprises in her shop

This is an interview with Martiel a very talented artisan whose shop on Zibbet is called Sewmantra.

Laura:  Where do you get your inspiration from?

Martiel - It is rare for me to look at other fabric artists and take inspiration from them - which funny enough is where most people assume I get my inspiration.  In fact most of my inspiration comes from just walking around and seeing things.  I am an anthropologist by training and one thing that is big for me is observation.  Humans learn and come to understand the social constructs within their culture as well as behaviors from observation.  It is foundational to who we are and how we understand our world and the people in it - everyday is a journey

Besides Yarn, what other materials do you use?

Martiel - I used a lot of yarn as yarn is my primary material.  However I do use lots of other types of material  (cotton, vinyl, polyester, felts, etc.).  I also find ribbon to be in high demand in my studio along with natural fabric dye, thread, buttons and socks.  I am actually in the process of new line of cleaning accessories that uses just that socks.

What is the time range it takes for you to complete the various flowers?

Martiel - For my bouquets, a single flower in the bouquet can take from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on the complexity of assembly and the parts that are required.  The 18 stem calla lilly bouquet takes about 27 hours to make give or take.  This can be shortened up a bit if I don't hand dye the styles (the center yellow portion of the flower).  Some of my more complex bouquets take upwards of 50 to 70 hours to complete.  This is why I ask brides to give me at least 3 to 5 months lead time on their orders so I can have it ready and shipped to them just the way they imagine it.  Plus these bouquets can be unassembled just like real bouquets and the flowers will stand on their own as each flower has their own stem and they are held together with ribbon.  My bouquets make a great keepsake for a bride and the lovely thing is that they don't need to go through additional processing to keep them lovely.  They are lovely forever.

Laura - What made you decide to cater some of your items to weddings such as your veil.  Isn't it difficult to find veil material?

Martiel - I decided to offer wedding accessories and bouquets because my sister in law was getting married and she wanted me to make items for her wedding, so that is how it all got started.  As for veils, it isn't hard to find the materials to assemble veil, it is much harder to put it together, especially the cathedral veils - they range from 120 to 150 inches long.

Laura - Do you use patterns or do you come up with ideas of your own and just go for it (I am referring to your crocheted animal critters).

Martiel - All of my items are made without a pattern.  I am a certified drafter and and because of this or maybe because I have a knack for seeing the spacial distribution, I see the object just the the way I want it to be in my head before I get started.  It's a gift I am thankful for everyday.  But my critter hats are really thought up initially by the people who order them.  They tell me the critter they want and then I make it.  I haven't turned down an order yet and every customer loves their critters.

I just had to post two of these.  

Laura - What prompted you to make several different looks for e-gift cards?

Martiel - I think e-gift cards are the wave of the future!  Personally I think that being able to send a gift card is fun and is a good gift idea for people who are difficult to shop for or hard to please.  I also really love having fun and funky things in my shop - the gift cards are there to make people smile and they are customizable as well.  It's a great solution for people who need a quick gift idea and what's even better they show up in the buyer's email box almost instantly.  I also design individual and gift card packages for other shop owners as well.

Would you like to share your idea regarding fabric flowers by the sheet?  Can you create other types of things with these sheets, like butterflies or lady bugs or any other type of shape that scrap bookers
might like?

Martiel - I haven't been on the ball as much as I would like with making more flowers by the sheet.  But I do love these and they are so cool.  They come in many sizes and I am open to anyone who would like me to design other flowers or even shapes.  They are great for scrap booking, sewing projects and so many other things.

Laura - Where did you get the idea to make such crazy looking bookmarks, they are much more original than any I have ever seen?

Martiel - I have a dear friend who loves to read and I wanted to give her something for a housewarming gift last year.  I wanted it to be something she would use and also something she would enjoy.  No two are alike and even when I try to make them the same, they always turn out different.

Laura - What is reclaimed yarn and how do you find it?

Martiel - Reclaimed yarn is yarn where a garment such as a sweater or blanket is taken apart.  While this can be confused with recycled yarn, it is very different.  Reclaimed yarn is simply taken in it's current form and then transformed into another.  For example, I can take apart a sweater or a blanket and make a scarf.  Recycled yarn is where it is taken apart and broken down to its most basic form (fiber) and then respun with other recylcled fibers or new fibers into yarn.

Laura - I am curious about the hand fan, how can you dye and hand cut the cherry blossoms and does that mean you paste them on the fan?

Martiel - The hand fan is a major undertaking to create.  First I use reclaimed starch fabric which has been temporarily glued to paper, just like printable fabric to create an outline for the flower shapes so that the blooms are all the same approximate size.  Each bloom is hand cut using some very tiny and very sharp scissors that I purchased just to do this one task.  After they are cut out, I use a soy based ink to color them.  When all the flowers have dried, they are then mounted using a non toxic fabric glue and I mount them by hand one by one.  The process from start to finish takes approximately 8 hours.

Considering the length of time and care it takes, the fan as well as the other beautiful things you make is a real bargain .

You can find Sewmanta at the below links


  1. Thanks for the great feature Laura!!

  2. Wow, Martiel, I had no idea how creative you are! I love all the cool things you make! Simply amazing!! I think the bridal bouquets are gorgeous and the knit critters are simply adorable! Keep up the awesome work!


  3. Aww! Joy, thank you!! So sweet of you to leave such a wonderful comment, it just brightened my day!