Amelia Garcia

Amelia and I met at a marbling course held at Ruda Studio in Madrid. I had already gone ahead and texted her to see if there was the possibility of marbling on fabric, and taking advantage of the occasion and acting as the class know-it-all that I am, I imagine I asked her what extra papers I had to bring in order to make the most out of the course.

I was in awe of her overwhelming personality, her professionalism and her technical knowledge. We spent the day learning and creating together with the rest of the course and we took the opportunity to run some tests on fabric :) After the course I could only think about marbling, I closed my eyes and saw spots dancing, moving and opening, endless color combinations, dripping, combing… I couldn't get it out of my head for a few days.

We had just started the brand and I had the need to develop the hypnotic technique that had left me mesmerized and make a collection of hats using this technique. I knew this was complicated... The preparation of the fabric and the materials was complicated, but nothing stopped us...

After hundreds of calls, emails and multiple artistic and logistical consultations, Amelia came to Madrid with her knowledge and while we were preparing the studio: cmc, textile paints, ox gall, material to light up the fabrics, drums of different sizes, buckets, (one that they had to make us to fit the size of the fabric...
Anyway, we hadn’t even started and it had already become chaotic. At the same time we were also finishing the construction of our showroom and painting studio and conditioning it to optimize processes as much as possible.

Construction workers were still working and kept walking up and down the studio on the only day we were able to work before the pandemic exploded... But one is cautious and no one stops her from working, and even less if we’re two! With the desire we had to get dirty and do crazy things, we ran away to Asturias before the world shut down and closed during the months of the health crisis.

We traveled to my parents' house in Asturias, with a van full of everything we needed to be able to produce the collection of marbled hats.
I remember the first night, very scared and still strangers at the time, we were looking at the fire and Amelia said "you could you kill me tonight, we really don't know each other at all", and I said something like, “yes, I could but not before marbling hundreds of meters...” We’ve been friends ever since.

But this is not just a story of friendship, it is too of art and creation. We were stuck in the garage throughout the pandemic. We got up early and spent weekends working. We even ordered more materials to be able to dye the fabrics used for the hat linings. At the time, everything was closed and we wanted to add color to the back of the hats. After doing a Domestika course, we ordered some dyes made from turmeric, mealybugs and other plants that we crushed, cooked, submerged and with which we dyed tens of meters of cotton.

This is a summary of the months we spent together.

I had to add context before showing you our latest project together….


Tell us a little about yourself, your studies, your career...

I was born and raised during the pre-internet years in Murcia and, even though we had a TV, my older brother always took the remote away from me, so I had no choice but to develop my imagination. As a child I was very restless; I painted a lot, I took photos with my father's cameras and my favourite TV show was Art Attack.

It was always clear to me that I wanted to study Fine Arts, but as a teenager the city was too small for me and when I finished high school I preferred to choose a degree that was not in Murcia to be able to go out and live abroad. This is how I ended up studying an Audiovisual Communication Degree in Valencia, where I learned a lot about cinema, made many friends and juggled a thousand and one jobs in clothing stores and fast food chains to be able to travel.

During my last year I went on Erasmus to Poland because we had an agreement with a University of Fine Arts and that's how I redeemed myself a bit. There I experimented with video art and traditional animation techniques such as rotoscoping, to which I dedicated my final project. I ran away to Berlin many weekends, which was very close and I remember it as one of the best years of my life, being very precarious, free and capable of anything. On my return I went to live in Madrid and studied Design and Photography at IED, I found the ideal support for my photos on paper and I embarked on the world of Photobooks. This connected me with bookbinding and in turn with marbling. With the books, I co-founded an independent publishing house, attended a lot of fairs and even won a few awards.


Your day to day... your concerns, your references... your dreams...

My day to day has changed a lot since Elio was born. He is still small and is very focused on himself. At the moment my life is a bit about surviving, putting out fires and work work work.

During my free time I am always looking for new things to study or learn and I also think a lot about working as a museum assistant again.

In the future I would love to be able to combine what I do with a creative job that would allow me to travel and meet lots of people. I wouldn't even mind living in another city or leaving Spain for a while. Being in the Studio is great, but it gets a little lonely sometimes. My references come from very different art sources, I obviously really like fashion, design, architecture and cinema, but my references are also my artist friends, creators, and mothers. All of them independent and eager to achieve their dreams.


How has your experience of working with Romualda been :)

It's going to sound exaggerated but Romualda's hats have turned my life around. To begin with, it was the first time I was going to paint on canvas and not on paper, and what's more, on those dimensions of a canvas! We spent several weeks in advance planning everything, there were many things to do and Cris had put her trust on me. I went to Madrid and they welcomed me into their studio as another member, we even celebrated my 30th birthday together. The pandemic was upon us, so Cris came up with the idea of running away to Asturias, I had never gone, and although I did not know the Romualdiños very well and was afraid of the virus and my family, I did not hesitate and went with her.

I wasn’t wrong, Cristina was not a serial killer, infact she turned out to be an incredible artist and even more incredible person. We spent weeks of the pandemic painting and listening to "La Weyes Blood" and Nathy Peluso. I felt super lucky to be locked away doing what I love most, but never not being aware of the horror going on in the rest of the world while we tried to make the most of a situation that was working against us. Our attitude was, “if the world stops, we won't.” I was very happy, the hats turned out amazing and I gained a lifelong friendship.


How Elio's arrival has changed your life, your way of seeing the world and creating

Elio has been a revolution. He makes me evolve every day, mutate, improve and see the world differently. Not only has he changed the way I look at art, but also how I look at life and even how I look at myself. Before, I looked more at the aesthetic or functional aspect of things, Elio has taught me to understand art as a (super useful) learning tool, everything is surprising, I see another reading in everyday things, he turns everything into a game and gives life another meaning.


How did you get started with these magical marbling/binding techniques and why? Do you see a relationship between them?

Of course! First came the binding. I started in 2015, this was around the time I arrived in Madrid and started editing my Photobooks. I felt the need not only to design the inside of the pages but also the cover, choose the materials and ultimately do it myself with my own hands. I remember walking past the door of a bookbinding workshop on Calle de las Fuentes where I was welcomed in by María Manso. María would later become my teacher, my Mother in Madrid and a reference as a bookbinder, teacher and person. She later opened up her own workshop El Taller del Libro, which is on Calle Calvario and is where I worked until I left Madrid in 2020.

The marbling came hand in hand with the bookbinding, at the workshop I discovered a collection of old books, I became a member of the National Library and fell in love with the watered paper of the front covers. At María's workshop I met Montse Buxó, the best marbled paper painter in the entire world. I did some marbling courses and started painting for fun, since then I haven't stopped receiving commissions and giving workshops. Although marbling is a technique historically linked to books, today we can find it in many different mediums and with more contemporary shapes and colours.


What is the job you are most proud of? What are you working on now?

It's hard for me to be proud of my work because I'm a perfectionist and when they're finished I always think they could be better. Although this was many years ago, I am very fond of Dear, the first Photobook I dared to publish. Obviously today Dear would be very different, but I see it as very authentic piece of work into which I poured a lot of my soul.

I always juggle several projects at once, some of which are personal and others which are for brands or small commissions. Right now I have just finished a series of marblings that I am going to launch for Mother's Day and that are called La Mère but I am also preparing a workshop with Alhambra beers for April and a collaboration with a very cool client that will come out in summer.


Tell us about your creation processes...

I don't have an exact formula, it's always something I don't expect that ignites the spark of the idea, it can be anything. From a conversation, a sentence that I have read in a book or a visit to the botanical garden. It also works as a catharsis, as a form of liberation or a form of expression of something that I need to let go of.

Then I look for a meaning, I like projects that have a story behind them, that convey an idea, that have discourse and meaning.

I give shape and color to that idea, I lock myself in, I make a thousand color palettes until I find the tones that represent what I want to say. In the water, the colors are seen differently as on paper and you are not able to see if the ink opens or closes a lot, so I often have to do many tests until something resembles what I have in my head. This is usually a long and introspective process, but when I find my way afterwards it becomes incredibly liberating. I can be immersed in this process of painting for days.


You are also a great teacher and photographer, where does this come from?

My father is a teacher and photographer and he has always transmitted his passion to us. To be honest, he is more than a photographer, he is a magician and illusionist.

One of the first memories of my life is related to this, I was very little and I remember that at home my father would lower a blind and would turn a room into a dark room. We could see the street inside our room and because we lived at street level we could see little people walking on the roof and everything upside down, that is how the principle of photography works, and it marked me deeply.

I also remember that at home we had two bathrooms and my father turned one of them into a photography laboratory. My mother was very angry, but we loved it and we took photos and developed at home with him.


What is your most precious asset?

I am lucky to live in the house that belonged to my grandmother. My grandmother, who was also called Amelia, Amelia Máximo, was a pianist and had a lot of style. Although many things are no longer here, some of her (and my great-grandmother's!) objects still remain, such as music sheets, boxes with little things or notebooks with notes in them. There is one in particular that is my favourite and reads "For a year full of good hours". For me these objects are amulets, I feel that my ancestors are taking care of me through them and they remind me of where I come from.


What music do you listen to while working?

All genres are played at the studio. I have days where I feel like Chick Corea, The Dave Brubeck Quarter, Bebo Valdés or Buena Vista Social Club. But others I feel like Rosalía, Ralphie Choo, Gold panda, Soko, Sigur Ros… I also love Patty Smith and Leonard Cohen, although lately the mad cow and the tete parrot have been playing a lot.


What is your favorite print from the Jugo collection and why, and your garment?

It is very difficult to choose, but I love the Adros, Ritos and the Vayas. I think it's genius that with "simple" horizontals and verticals you have been able to create something so beautiful and with such depth. I am a big fan of less is more.

I really like the Assilah and Essaouira dresses because they are garments that transport you and make you dream. More than clothes, I see them as pieces of art that you put on and make you levitate. To me, depending on what I'm wearing, I feel a different energy and I see those dresses as very special. I also love the Amalfi and the Fiji because of the Japanese style and I find them very comfortable and practical for day-to-day looks.


Which or what would the hat of your dreams be like?

I have always thought of hats as avant-garde or something groundbreaking. Think that, in a city like Murcia, wearing a hat is being a freak, wanting to attract attention. For me hats are related to fantasy, I have seen them in story characters like Alice's Hatter, Willy Wonka but also in historical figures and in art. I recently heard a story about the bird of paradise that Baltasar wears on his turban in a painting by Rubens and that also made me think about how the hat was used to communicate and to contextualize something from the time. I don't know what my dream hat would look like, but it would definitely have to be something with a lot of magic. I've been doing a lot of matching things with Elio lately so it would be great to have a matching hat with him <3


Also anything else you fancy…

The only thing I can add is thank you for doing the precious things that you do and for trusting me and my work. It is very nice that brands with such projection bet on the work of small artisans, on manual processes and give priority to quality and sustainability. But above all, congratulations to you because behind this big brand there are even bigger women.


Thanks to you, you are the BEST!!!!!!!!

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