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Elsa Mora's Profile

About

Please visit my My blog: www.ArtisaWay.com
And my new blog about paper! www.AllAboutPapercutting.com

Below is my Etsy interview from July 23, 2007


Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).

My name is Elsa Mora and I am 36 years old. I was born and raised on the island of Cuba. I come from a big family and from a mother who worked very hard in awful jobs to raise her 4 children all by herself with a minimun salary. She didn’t have any education but the most important things that I know now about life I learned from her. She always told us that the number one thing that anybody needs is education. The second thing is to find out as soon as possible what you are good at. And the third thing is to make your dreams…

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  • Female
  • Born on May 9
  • Joined April 9, 2007

Favorite materials

paper, wood, fabric, clay, glass, metal, paperclay, felt, acrylic, ink, polymerclay, resin

About

Please visit my My blog: www.ArtisaWay.com
And my new blog about paper! www.AllAboutPapercutting.com

Below is my Etsy interview from July 23, 2007


Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).

My name is Elsa Mora and I am 36 years old. I was born and raised on the island of Cuba. I come from a big family and from a mother who worked very hard in awful jobs to raise her 4 children all by herself with a minimun salary. She didn’t have any education but the most important things that I know now about life I learned from her. She always told us that the number one thing that anybody needs is education. The second thing is to find out as soon as possible what you are good at. And the third thing is to make your dreams come true, not by a miracle or good luck but by hard work and discipline.

I have been married to my husband Bill for 10 years now. Bill is also a creative person, he is a film producer. We met in Havana through his sister Marguerite who I met in Chicago in 1995. Marguerite and I became good friends, she came several times to Havana to visit me but she never mentioned that she had a brother. In one of her trips to Havana she called me because she wanted her “little brother” to see my studio (I just didn’t know that she had been carefully planning this meeting). I thought that Bill was 15 or something like that. But when I opened the door I saw this quiet and handsome easy-going man with whom I had an instant connection. My life has been going so fast since then! I moved to Los Angeles, California in 2001, we had two children (4 and 2) and then there is also my stepson (15) who is my favorite teenager.

Before I moved to the US I had my little apartment-studio in El Vedado, in Havana, close to El Malecon. Havana is such a special place, so full of creative energy and a good sense of humor. That’s the city where I developed an important part of my career as an artist. Lots of curators and art collectors and people from galleries and museums came to Cuba in the 90’s looking for art. I was lucky enough to be visited by some of these groups and that’s how I started showing my work internationally in America and Europe.

What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?

When I was about 6 or 7 years old I remember that I wanted to cut my hair but my Mom wouldn’t let me do it. It is some kind of tradition in most Latin American countries to have very long hair until you are at least fifteen. One day I REALLY wanted to cut my hair and I decided to do it no matter what. So I made this wig out of ripped paper that I put together with glue. I locked myself in the bathroom I put this wig on my head then I took some scissors and I cut the curls of papers in this short style. I was so happy, that’s the first most satisfying project that I remember doing with my hands. I also remember making mud dolls after the rain. I put them in the sun to get dry and then I made them clothes with little pieces of fabric. I made lots of paper dolls for my friends at school, I had this system of making like 20 at the same time and then my friends painted their faces. I also made lots of dolls from mango pits. After you eat the mango there is the pit with this cute hair. You wash the pit well and when it is dry you can paint a face on it and tighten the hair, I had a whole school of these dolls, I miss them so much.

What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?

I always think that inspiration is out there in the air available for everyone, everywhere. It is just a matter of observing and being alert and noticing the world around you. This is something that you develop just by participating in life with your five senses. But if I had to choose one thing that blows my mind that would be people. Think that we are millions of people on this planet, and each single person is unique, even if they are twins. I love different cultures, languages, the way we look, and the way we think and relate with each other.

What are your favorite materials?

I enjoy any material available and when it is not available I look for it somewhere or I try to invent it myself. I have many different collections of the most curious materials that I find, from exotic woods to some new forms of plastic, velvet powder, magnetic powder,…I like to collect them and then one day “Click!” I just use it in something.

What have been the most valuable lessons learned from other artists on Etsy ?

The number one and most important lesson has been to go ahead and open my own store. I did this because other people did it before me and by observing them they taught me that it was possible. I thank them so much for it and I thank Etsy so much for being out there doing its part on making the world a better place.

Why should people buy handmade?

I think that buying handmade is a way of expression and communication. You express yourself through the objects that you choose to live with and with the objects that you give to other people. Handmade objects have a different meaning compared to industrial objects because they carry a human energy. The thing that most impacts people is other people. That’s why we experience something nice when we get anything handmade. When you buy handmade you are not only buying an object but you’re also buying a concept, an idea that has to do with the appreciation of what’s human. By buying handmade you are saying in a subtle way that you care about other people and that you are open for them to bring something into your life, it is an exchange, it is human connection.

What features/services would you most like to see on Etsy?

I dream of this “Etsy international Handmade Festival” in New York. Imagine if Etsy could get that physical at some point. The internet experience will always be the most important part of Etsy but I think that putting together a group of Etsy people in a physical place once in a while would be amazing and it would raise even more awareness about Etsy and about changing the way people buy and sell handmade. I imagine this like some kind of international handmade fair open to the public. I think that it would be a big success.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?

I am an independent artist which means that I work full time in my art. I am always working on something. For a while now I have been having a solo show every year with different galleries that represent my work. This means that I am always busy but I can't imagine myself doing anything else. When the gallery is not in America I travel for the opening and bring my family. Also sometimes I get these invitations from Art Institutes for lectures which I enjoy very much and once in a while I have studio visits from groups of students and that is one of my favorite experiences. I was a teacher for two years in Cuba and I really think that the best way to learn is by teaching. Anytime when you have to talk about your work you need to force yourself to articulate ideas and put them together in a way that make sense. And when you explain things to other people you are also explaining them to yourself which is useful. Now, when I am not in my studio I am laughing a lot, specially with my stepson who is so funny. I am cooking for my family or I am going to the market, I take my daughter to school and pick her up every day. When Bill comes home from work we talk about the films that he is working on, he runs this independent film company that is making great movies. They did “United 93” and almost coming out there is: “The Kite Runner” based on the wonderful book with the same title. I highly recommend: “Talk to Me” (already playing) “Death at a Funeral” (hilarious English comedy) and “Lars and the Real Girl” (great original story starring Ryan Gosling). We spend lots of time talking about movies and watching them. Bill has a great collection of the old and the new ones. We also listen to music in this phonograph that plays 78’s. We love old Cuban music from all the old guys, the ones that were making great music way before Buena Vista Social Club. We like to dance with this music. On the weekends we love to go to flea markets or to the comic store or to some museum if there is something interesting. We take the kids to the park and once in a while we organize something at home with our close friends and have a good time. Every Friday night Bill and I go out for our date (to dinner or to see a movie…)

Read any good books lately?

The Nature of Personal Reality by Jane Roberts. Great book recommended by my mother-in-law who is one of my favorite people. This book is basically a clever analysis about how your own personal reality is whatever you think it is. See this from pg. 4, "You project your thoughts, feelings, and expectations outward, then you perceive them as the outside reality. When it seems to you that others are observing you, you are observing yourself from the standpoint of your own projections."

In ten years I'd like to be...

Healthy and energetic! Everything else comes after this.

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