Journey Through The EarthSeaWarrior Studio

Tonight, Fab’s Vintage Shop features a sale with one of our favorite creatives: The inimitable ursula manaf-pitt of EarthSeaWarrior. Our own Shirley Chan explores her universe.

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Photo: Lauren Crew

While dinosaurs roamed the land and grinning skulls guarded a lamp graveyard, Fab sat down with ursula manaf-pitt, founder and designer of EarthSeaWarrior, to delve into the mysteries of her world. Rainbows shining from crystals and unicorn horns lit the way.

Since its inception in 2009, EarthSeaWarrior has unleashed an army of antique bisque porcelain dolls reborn as planters, mid-century lamps sporting colorful new tails, meticulously carved skulls with a twinkle in their glistening stone eye sockets, and so much more. Its dreamscape aesthetic has seeped into conventional culture through shows like HBO’s Girls, outlets like Free People, and venerable publications like Forbes. Journey with us into the mind of a mad genius.

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Photo: Lauren Crew

Where does the name EarthSeaWarrior come from?

I always feel pulled between two worlds, and I have trouble deciding where to live. The earth and the sea offer different things to me, and I move between the two. The warrior part is to help navigate those worlds. It means fighter, someone who won’t go quietly, but attack that journey.

EarthSeaWarrior features so many fractured dolls turned into something new. Were you mean to your dolls when you were young?

I loved giving them haircuts, exotic makeup, and I’d often paint on clothes, rather than actually have them wearing any. I was obsessed with adding my mark, making them my own. In my mind, this wasn’t mean. They were makeovers!

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Photo: Lauren Crew

Did you hear that? (we all look around)

Dolls commit suicide in here all the time. This building used to be a school for handicapped children, and then a paper factory, then an artists’ studio for painters. The little ghost children get mischievous sometimes, but they just want to play.

Wow, does that inspire you?

Everything does. I get inspired organically. Everything I’ve made has a connection to the world I inhabit. It’s amazing because I learn later that the things I make have a deeper meaning than I knew at the time.

I just learned about Saint Ursula, the protector of young virgin girls who were beheaded by the Huns circa 383. Their bodies are in a church in Germany, while the missing heads were sculpted with stone & displayed in a nearby chapel. In my mind, the bisque doll creations take something broken and give them new life. Sometimes we buy them broken, sometimes we break them, and sometimes they just fall and break themselves. I’ve been making them all this time without knowing about the connection to this other “St.” Ursula. These moments of discovery keep happening to me.

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Photo: Lauren Crew

Amazing! Let’s talk about other inhabitants of the EarthSeaWarrior world. How many unicorns have you kissed?

Only one. That kiss turned into an immaculate conception that brought forth 11,000 virgin unicorns.

 What makes the skulls grin so much?

They like having new bodies and playing pretend with me. I also often like to think the ghost children make them giggle.

How do the vintage lamps like their colorful new tails?

They get turned on and excited when they become one-of-a-kind. We just launched a new OOAK line of color cords. Without compromising the electrical components, this unique dye technique gives them a special dose of color and design that has never been done or seen before. So now each cord also has its own unique personality that compliments the character of our lamps. We at ESW can’t help but wag our tails in excitement, right alongside the lamp tails we created.

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Photo: ursula manaf-pitt

We have to know: do you dream in color or black & white?

Absolutely in color! My dreams are very lucid and affect what I create, and vice versa. Last week I had a dream where my mom was tattooing my entire back (FYI: my mom is not a fan of tattoos). Then, what felt like days later in my dream, I finally got to see what she drew. It was Ursula, the sea witch from the Little Mermaid. She was looking thru a doorknob and on the other side of the door was what looked like a cartoon drawing from Pink Floyd’s movie The Wall. More specifically, it was the scene when Pink is on trial with the worms.

Is that a hint of what’s to come?

It already has inspired new creations, and it seems to keep manifesting into more. We recently debuted a new 2013 collection called Dismembered Enchantments. We’re still creating it, as it’s also still creating itself. That’s what makes this Warrshop studio and EarthSeaWarrior so magical.

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Photo: Lauren Crew

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Photo: ursula manaf-pitt

Notes

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