Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Marc Willwerth. I’m originally from Boston but moved to Oregon three years ago. I’m settled in Portland now and really love that there are flowers that bloom all year round. I’ve been a professional organic gardener for ten years and when my hands aren’t dirty I make stuffed animals out of old stuffed animals
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
I remember making some Christmas ornament out of Styrofoam balls in Kindergarten, it must have been Frosty. One time in college I did sew pink craft fur on the flap of my messenger bag but I didn’t really make anything crafty until I moved to the coast of Oregon and lived in a town where there was nothing to do. Going to the beach and looking at anemones was great in the summer but in the rainy season there was a lot of indoor time. I had just started doing ceramics and was really getting into the idea of making something that took on a life of it’s own.
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
I’ve always been into fantasy creatures. I’m a big fan of the impossible that live in our imagination. As a child I was really into Greek mythology and monsters of all kinds. I guess I was a monster geek. I can remember praying to Godzilla in grade school (I think I was asking him to end a particularly boring assembly!) I like to think that I get my ideas not from my own head but from the potentiality of all things, real and imagined. And I’m just a conduit for them to come into being. Kind of like a midwife for my little critters.
What are your favorite materials?
Well I’m really into plastic eyeballs. I have blue ones, green ones, yellow ones, and brown ones and of course cat eyes and frog eyes. One of my cats, The Giblet, is fond of batting the loose eyes around. So eyeballs turn up in all kinds of weird places in my house. Using recycled materials is important to me. Using the excess from our consumer culture and giving it another chance.
Any tips for selling handmade stuff?
I think the most appealing handmade things are those that are original and that look finished. I think attention to detail really pays off. If you have a good idea, the more you work at it, the better it will become. Items that have a lot of energy put into them take on a life of their own and people interested in supporting handmade can see that. Stick with it though; even if you make something awesome it can take time to figure out the market. If you know it’s awesome then surely someone else will (and they’ll buy it for the right price).
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I’m obsessed with gardening. I run my own organic landscaping company, so I care for and build other peoples gardens as well as my own. I’m really into bridging the gap between the natural world and our hectic modern life. The garden is the place where those things meet, it’s all manmade but it emulates and is subject to the whims of nature. Especially so in the city, where the gardens are little islands of tranquility and shrines to something greater that concrete and cars. I enjoy camping and looking at waterfalls. I like going for walks. I like cooking and I really like eating.
How can Etsy be improved? Any feature requests?
I am really impressed with Etsy and the handmade community it is creating. Being able to communicate with other crafters internationally is awesome. I also enjoy seeing what other people are making. I think it would be cool that when you browse a shop you can see that shop’s favorite sellers. An option to put a short caption on for sale photos would be helpful. And a little photo album, so you can show off other things you make that aren’t for sale.
What is your favorite color?
Leopard print and tiger/zebra stripes.