My name is Michelle Weddle, and I am the owner, creator, and designer behind Waterstone Succulents. I live in Houston, Texas, and above all, I am an observer and contemplator, prone to making things when words wouldn’t otherwise do justice.
All of the items in my shop are cast from carefully constructed molds of different succulent species with very strong gypsum cement. It’s a process that allows me to recreate the unique form of one particularly delightful specimen many times over. To me, they are treasured relics, comparable to a pristine white sand dollar or the shell of a sea urchin.
I am fascinated by the tenacious and beautiful ways succulents have adapted to the extreme environments where they thrive. Succulents are masters of survival; their “succulence” is defined by an incredible ability to store water internally, conserving it for times of drought. Their lush, plump leaves become the visual antithesis of what common sense would tell you is a physical impossibility, given their environmental circumstances. They are one of many examples in nature where a species gloriously overcomes tremendous odds.
I wanted to create something entirely new that wouldn’t suffer by comparison to the live plants. I faced many obstacles along the way, and solved one by one until reaching the final product. I believe it’s the pristine whites, luminous metallics and playful neon colors that set my creations apart. As soon as I began applying paint, I said to myself, ‘Ooo, now you have something!’
Although it seems obvious now, it never really occurred to me that so many people would appreciate these for the fact that they physically can’t die. You can’t over or under water them, or provide them with too much or too little light. That level of appreciation was a pleasant surprise.
Etsy, to me, is an opportunity to come up with an idea, produce and sell it without having to bother opening a storefront or face the reality of not making a profit for the first few years you’re in business. It allows for an unprecedented level of creativity in handmade products, and a means of making a living.
I’m quite a perfectionist, so I never put out anything for which I would make excuses. I have a healthy understanding that nothing handmade is ever perfect, though. My experience of owning an Etsy shop and buying from others reminds me that it’s the little imperfections that make handmade items so special. You can’t be an artist without having an appreciation for both the great abilities and limitations of the human hand in craftsmanship.
All photographs by Melanie Ellis.