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Featured Artist: Hannah Martian from Of Mars

by EBlack on December 20, 2013

HM-OM Coat 9Publisher’s Note: This week’s Featured Artist is truly out of this world. Hannah Martian, from Of Mars, has been passionate about fiber for years and has been cranking out beautiful crocheted pieces since she was a teen. Hannah makes it a point to create fiber works of art that are full of color, texture, and last but not least… SWIRLS! It was a pleasure to speak with Hannah and discover more about some fiber art that could only be “Of Mars.” 

Spin Artiste (SA) : Hello there Hannah, thanks for talking with us today. Tell us how you became a fiber artist. What’s your fiber story?

Hannah Martian (HM): I’ve always been into crafting and handiwork, but I really took to crocheting. I taught myself how to crochet at age 14. No one in my family knew how to do it so my learning process was full of trial and a whole lot of error. HM-OM Top Close Up2I crocheted on and off for about five years before realizing that I wanted to do more than just casual crafting. I started making stock for my etsy store in early spring of 2012 and opened up shop in September of the same year. Since opening I’ve shifted my focus to more freeform stuff and have really been enjoying it. I started spinning yarn in January of this year. I’d say that I am still a beginner and look forward to learning about more fibers and spinning techniques.

SA: The switch from a casual crafter seems like it was inevitable for you.   How do you stay creatively inspired?

HM: Generally I bounce between three and six different projects at a time so I don’t get burnt out on any one thing. If I ever get stuck anywhere on one project I’ll just move on to another so it keeps things interesting. HM-OM Flower TopIf I ever just don’t want to work on anything I’ve got going on either I’ll generally just make a bunch of random scrumbly bits or flowers in random colors for future use. I always like having at least a small pile of pieces in various color ways on hand.

SA: What a great idea, to hop between crocheting projects to keep them fresh. Speaking of crocheting, you mentioned that it is an obsession of yours, but you recently started dyeing and spinning. How has crocheting moved you into other forms of fiber art, and what has your experience in dyeing and spinning been like so far? 

HM: Crocheting has introduced me to other fiber artists and yarn spinners and those artisans inspired me to get into dyeing and spinning yarn. I was inspired to start dyeing and spinning yarn after seeing the work of HM-OM YarnChopstix Waits and buying Pluckyfluff’s book Intertwined. So far my experience with dyeing has been pretty hit and miss. I don’t have a very good dyeing space right now so I haven’t been able to dye very much at a time or experiment with different techniques. I’ve enjoyed spinning yarn and am trying to work my way up to spinning more bulky art yarns. My experience has been very positive.

HM-OM Glovers and HatsSA: Great to hear. I’m sure now, with about a year under your belt, you’ll really start to know your way around your wheel. I know you live in Nashville, TN. Have you always been a Nashville girl, and how has living in Music City USA influenced your fiber art?

HM: I was born and raised in Florence, AL and moved to Nashville for college. After moving to Tennessee I became a lot more interested in crocheting and started doing it a lot more. I became much more of a fiber person as well and started using more natural fibers in my creations. Since moving here I also shifted my focus to freeform crochet, which is almost all I do now.

SA: Your fiber creations are so fun and vibrant. I know you use both new and recycled materials. What motivated you to use recycled materials, and what is your favorite medium?

HM: I’m just a few months away from getting a degree in environmental science,HM-OM Blue and Purpel Tops so I’m primarily motivated by my own views on recycling and environmentalism. In addition to these views though using recycled materials is a great way to get high quality materials at a very low price. I once found a white Angora bunny sweater at a thrift store for $5. I was able to get a few thousand yards of beautiful yarn that I could then dye any color I wanted to for a great price.

SA: Oh, I love to hear of the fabulous thrift store finds!   Knowing your background in environmentalism, your display of natural elements in your pieces makes so much sense. It is so great to hear about your passion for the environment and how that is reflected even in your artwork.  Many of your fiber pieces are full of beautiful fluid shapes. HM-OM Coat 6Tell us more about your use of motion in your designs.

HM: I was first inspired to do freeform after seeing a lot of Irish crocheted lace, which also has a lot of motion. I like using a mix of both large and smaller motifs with lots of swirls and tapered lines. I just think it creates more pleasing shapes then some blockier elements. Slip-stitch embroidery over finished elements can also add a lot of interest and movement to a piece. Mainly I just like using a lot of swirls.

SA: What can you tell us about your studio space?

HM: My “studio” is basically the left side of a couch in my living room and a wire rolling rack filled with yarn. I also have a closet filled with other yarn and fiber. It’s a cozy workspace that often takes over my other furniture, but I like it.

HM-OM Self 1SA:  I like to think of it as my nest!   Way to make the most of what you have. Now that you are an avid spinner, what wheel are you using?

HM: I use an Ashford Country Spinner 2 and I love it! I bought for its specialty in making bulky art yarns and am really looking forward to exploring its capabilities.

SA: Can’t wait to see where your spinning explorations take you. What has been the most significant lesson you have learned during your years of fiber art work?

HM-OM Vest 4 WaysHM: I guess the most meaningful lesson I’ve learned is that you don’t need patterns to make pretty things. For awhile I was really stuck with the whole pattern thing and it was only after I broke out of that that I really think my work was able to grow and become more interesting. Since exploring more freeform work I’ve also become a lot better at specialty stitches.

SA: I love that your pieces are so unique. Tell us, when you begin the creative process on a piece are you thinking of yourself, your customers, your muse, or everything at once?

HM-OM HeadbandsHM: When I start a project I mostly think of how I would like the piece to look with whatever color combination I’ve chosen. Certain yarns look better than others crocheted into different motifs, so I give a lot of thought to that as well. With that being said, I never really go into a project with a good idea of how it’ll turn out. I like allowing the piece to shape itself during construction.

SA: It is amazing to see how many pieces have a mind of their own and seem to form themselves in the process. Who is your crocheting hero?

HM-OM PonchoHM: Oh man… it’s hard to choose just one! There are so many people who have beautiful work, but I’m just going to name a few who I’ve been a fan of for a while now! As far as freeform inspiration goes, I just love the work of Heather Lightbody (Girl with a Hook) and Prudence Mapstone. I also love the large-scale art pieces and installations of Mandy Greer.

SA: So I have to ask, how did you come up with your business name, “Of Mars,” and how does it reflect your art?

HM-OM Coat 8HM: I was given the nickname “Hannah Martian” several years ago, so my shop name really stems off the whole Martian / Mars thing. My work has been described as “out of this world,” so I feel that Of Mars is pretty appropriate!

SA: Yes, I would say so, great story and creative name! Which do you prefer, dark or milk chocolate?

HM: Milk chocolate

SA:  Thank you so much, Hannah!  I love your work and hope to own one of your pieces some day.  Readers, Hannah has a Facebook page and an Etsy shop so be sure to like her page to keep up to date with what’s she’s doing and see more of her fabulous work.

Thanks to everyone for showing a lot of Spin Artiste love to Studioweit on Facebook last week…we have a winner for the surprise fiber giveaway and it’s Kathy Withers from Unique Designs By Kathy!  Kathy I will send you an email to coordinate getting you your prize and I promise nothing too weird…:-)

I’m going to take a little vacation from Spin Artiste till after the New Year.  I will be blogging over at www.fiberygoodness.com next week so I won’t be totally out of touch with the internets!  It’s been a great year here though…from the amazing experience of the Leather and Lace Challenge Yarn Auction…to Spin Quest…to launching the Journey to the Golden Fleece…to many wonderful Can You Spin This? posts…I am very grateful that people read this blog

Lined up for early next year, I’ve some great artists to feature, some crazy and fun Can You Spin This? posts coming, more Battle of the Bobbins…and yes, the Secret Stash Game is coming back in the spring.  If you’d like to be a fiber sponsor, please drop me a line at thespinartiste@gmail.com.  Have the Happiest Fibery Goodness Holidays possible and I look forward to seeing you here in 2014! 



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