My name is Maria, and I live in Vigo, Spain with my husband Manuel and my daughter, Alicia. I’m the maker behind Intres. I make trees, houses, towers, planets, fish, ornaments, and also miniatures for decorating, collecting, giving as gifts, and surprising people of all ages.
Some time ago, when my daughter was still very young, I saw an episode of Friends where Phoebe made a dollhouse out of a cardboard box. I loved that dollhouse! Inspired, I decided to design and make one for my daughter. My house was absurd, and as unorthodox as you can imagine, but she liked it. Researching and learning how to build the elements of the cardboard dollhouse made me think, “This is what I like!” And that was the starting point of my life as an artisan.
All of my items have a little story and a reason I created them. I made the Ginkgo Biloba tree after a trip to Lisbon and a visit to its botanical park; the weeping willow was present in my childhood games; the Baobab is influenced by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince; the Oak is the most representative native tree of my country (and also my favorite). I like to imagine different worlds, and textiles are the best way for me to express myself. I design ideas into forms and colors, while trying to be funny and original in the process.
My creative process is quite chaotic. When an idea comes to mind, I have to write it down as fast as I can. I make a small sketch or write down a phrase – something so I don’t forget. Sometimes my designs develop quickly, but often it takes a few weeks. The next phase is the most fun: I run tests, design forms, and create patterns and prototypes. My workspace is full of colors when I am creating – fabrics, thread, and of course, scissors. When I’m satisfied with a design, I take photos and list it in my shop. Sometimes people write to me just to tell me they like one of my items. That makes me feel so high!
When I lost my job in 2008 because of the economic crisis, I looked to Etsy as an opportunity; it was a like a starting line or an open door to showcase my work. Beyond offering me the possibility to make a personal dream come true, it also allowed me to make a living during a very difficult time to find a job. What at first seemed a bit crazy gradually became my reality. I have a world map that I mark with every place I send a tree, and every time I look at it I can’t help but feel surprised. It was unthinkable for me when I started, but now I don’t rule out the idea that, with Etsy, one of these days I might reach the moon.
My creative business has changed my priorities and, partly, my lifestyle. On a personal level, the stress and strain of life in the city – running from one place to another – have disappeared. It may seem silly, but my approach to everyday problems has changed; I face life with more humor.
All photographs by Intres.