My name is Steve Wintercroft, and I design unique, downloadable DIY mask templates with my wife, Marianne. We live in Cornwall, England, with our two children. Our line is called Wintercroft.
I’ve always made things. As a kid, I made model boats and planes with my grandfather, and I taught myself how to make surfboards when I was a teenager. I went on to study art, design and cabinet making in college, and I was always the guy at the pub making origami frogs from till receipts. After my studies, I worked as a cabinet maker and full-time surfboard shaper — until one Halloween, when an impromptu costume idea changed everything. I had been invited to a friend’s Halloween party, and I was struggling to come up with a suitable costume in a short amount of time. So I raided the recycling bin, sat down with a roll of packing tape and a knife, and set to work building an animal mask out of paper. Everyone at the party loved what I came up with, which gave Marianne and I the idea to make a product that would help other people make masks, too.
When we started designing our templates, it was important to us that our customers have instant access so they could download, print, and start building their masks in a matter of minutes. We also hoped that supplying the templates digitally and enabling people to build the masks themselves would help reduce environmental impact, by eliminating the need for manufacturing or shipping. We opened our Etsy shop in October 2013, and our downloadable mask templates sold almost immediately. Since then, we’ve worked hard to build our business; at the end of last year, Marianne and I both left our jobs so we could work on Wintercroft full time. That was a big step, but it has given us time to develop our skills, test new ideas, and push forward new products.
I surf regularly, and I find that time in the ocean gives me space to organize my thoughts, plan my next project and solve problems creatively. The process of developing a new mask tends to be a long one that involves a lot of CAD and handmade models. In addition to the designing the look of the mask, I also consider functionality and how it will be assembled. We spend a lot of time designing, testing and refining each mask before it goes on sale to make sure that it not only looks striking, but is also easy to build.
I have a strong belief that making things is part of being human – that it enriches our lives and gives us control over the objects we surround ourselves with. Our masks provide an excuse to sit down, get out the scissors and make something. Some people are not naturally gifted makers, but with the right tools and a little guidance, anyone can make something of beauty and value. Even though thousands of people have built masks from our templates, each one is different and bears the mark of the individual who made it. Our plan for the future is to keep supplying our customers with the tools they need to make amazing things. We have some very exciting ideas in development for next year.
All photographs by Wintercroft.