Interview with Marin of Embercraft
Tell us a little bit about yourself! What do you love to do?
I think it goes without saying that, as an artist, I love all forms of creating - even before I discovered leathercrafting, I would spend every moment of my childhood making art. It's more of an identity than most careers, so often I have a hard time thinking of the other elements that make "me". But it's a goal of mine to create space in my life for more than just productivity, so here is a little list dedicated to that practice:
- I am 26 years old, based in Boston, MA, and a hardcore winter-lover
- I'm an extrovert, so quality time with my friends and family is one of my favorite things in life, and one of the things I've been missing the most throughout this pandemic time.
- For my mind and body, a long walk can cure-all. Sometimes I enjoy packing a bag and going for a spontaneous 10-mile hike through the woods and parks near my house.
- My partner and I recently adopted an adorable little one-eyed black kitten and named her "Odin". She's now the love of our lives, and she helps me remember to take breaks by meowing at me until I play with her.
- My daily yoga practice keeps me sane and centered throughout the beautiful chaos of running a solo business.
How did you first come to leatherwork?
I've always been enchanted by magic, myths, and history. So as often as I could throughout my childhood years, I would attend Renaissance Faires, conventions, and festivals, and marvel at the costumes adorning the other guests. Their clothing somehow made me feel transported to a different world - like we all existed in an intimate pocket of space and time. I fell in love with this concept of world-building and visual storytelling and started to pursue this passion through making costumes. This led me to discover many different materials and skills. I taught myself patterning, sewing, corsetry, prop building, woodworking, and eventually I stumbled upon leatherworking. I felt like leather as a material brought together all of the themes and concepts I had spent my whole life chasing. It was love at first craft!
What's the story behind Embercraft Creations?
After getting more and more into leathercrafting as a teenager, I started working as the Costume Director for a theatrical summer camp for kids. I think this opened my eyes, and I realized that I could actually turn my work into a career. While studying at Massachusetts College of Art & Design, I decided to start showing my art to the world. I chose the name Embercraft Creations because of the fire I felt when I craft, and to symbolise the phoenix-like story of crafting new life out of remnants of the dead. I began selling my work at small LARP events in summer of 2018, and opened a small shop on Etsy soon after. However, it wasn't until the end of 2019 that I finally took the leap and started running my business full-time. I haven't looked back since.
What do you think people can learn from working with leather? Or what do you hope people who interact with your work experience?
I think working with leather, or any natural material gives people a deeper appreciation for how much we rely on our natural world. Leathercrafting was one of the earliest ways we as humans began to shape our natural materials into tools. It is tied to our origins, and I believe that learning leatherworking and other ancient skills help us connect to our deep roots.
As well, I think it's important for people to learn how their clothing and accessories are made. When we saw the rise of big-box stores and 2-day shipping, we also lost the connection to intentional handmade practices. With that brought more wasteful habits. I think that when people take the time to learn a craft, they become more motivated to buy from independent artists and craftspeople, or they perhaps decide to fix an old shirt rather than toss it in a landfill. Spreading this knowledge and nurturing these ideas in the next generations is one of the ways we can set our planet up for success.
Virgo Sun, Capricorn Rising, Aries Moon. I find that my Moon drives my passion and abundant creation energy, my Sun lends me the organizational tools and critical eye needed to run a business, and my Rising allows me to find a sense of purpose in my work and gives me the sense of belonging to my craft (even if it ends up turning me into a workaholic 90% of the time...)
What do you love about working with runes?
One of my favorite things about working with the runes is how often they communicate to people in need, even if the person isn't familiar with the meaning behind them. I recall many times in which I've crafted a bindrune for a customer just based on three runes that they felt energetically drawn to, and the meaning behind the bindrune ended up being exactly what they needed. I've even had customers tattoo their bindrunes on their body, because they felt like guides or lifelong talismans. I think runework is one of the more intuitive crafts - You learn the most by opening up, and allowing them to guide your hand.
What's something about you that I wouldn't think to ask?
Ironically, one of the things about me that surprises people the most is my love for running a business. There's a stereotype that artists only want to make their art, and they hate the "numbers" side of it. But math was actually one of my favorite classes in school, and I'm very geared toward analytical thinking. I'm grateful that I get to mix my days with both creativity and problem-solving, all on my own schedule. It's truly a dream job!
Sign up for Learning the Art of Leathercraft with Marin Cenwein here.