Ellie Willingham joined us last year, making quite an impression with her heritage craft exhibit. She’s back again this year, with new work and fresh insights for those who think a maker festival is all about high tech. The first makers were those who made do with the things nature makes available and Willingham gives a great look at this part of the maker community.
GCMC: Who are you and what do you make?
FF: My name is Ellie Willingham, and I make all kinds of things out of fur! Everything from hats to costume accessories to clothing, if it involves fur, I can make it! It started out as just a small hobby, but as I became more involved in the fur and trapping communities, my work has since been featured in a number of outdoor publications, and on display at the National Trappers Association’s convention in Michigan last year. I am a very avid trapper, myself, so many of my products are made from furs that are locally harvested.
GCMC: What do you make and why do you think it’s important or useful?
FF: I just love the art of fur crafting. I see it as a way of preserving the natural beauty of these animals into something that will last forever. Fur is also the absolute warmest thing you can wear in the winter!
Also, natural fur products are much more sustainable and environmentally sound than synthetic faux fur, which a lot of people don’t realize. But in reality, natural fur is both a renewable resource, and entirely recyclable and biodegradable, even after its been processed and tanned. In contrast, fake fur is made from petroleum based products and will never decompose in our lifetimes. So if you want to “go green”, it’s actually better to go with real fur!
GCMC: What are you bringing to Gulf Coast MakerCon?
FF: I am bringing a variety of my fur hats, costume accessories, and other items to display, and most will even be for sale! Recently, “soft mount taxidermy” has become something popular, and I will be bringing a couple of these as well. Soft mounts have a rigid taxidermy-mounted head, with the rest of the body stuffed with fiber fill so it’s plush and poseable. They are really unique looking and fun to bring around to events. Lots of people even think they’re live animals when you carry them around!
GCMC: Will folks be able to do anything at your booth?
FF: You can take pictures with my soft mounts, of course! Or try on hats, learn about different types of fur and crafting techniques. There will be lots of hands-on things to explore at my booth, so don’t hesitate to stop by!
GCMC: Why should folks come out to a maker festival?
FF: Because there’s a little bit of something for everyone! Even if fur isn’t your thing, there’s robots, technology, inventions, art, gaming, and more – I don’t think its possible to get bored at a maker festival!
Neither do we! You can see Ellie and makers of both high and low tech marvels at Gulf Coast MakerCon on April 18th!