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Maker Spotlight: Merel Eisink of Willow Creative

First and last name

Merel Eisink

Where are you located? 

Netherlands

What is your day job? 

I am a full-time maker of costumes and costume parts! It’s a pretty broad job description for me, I do everything from making full costumes to sponsored items on machines and materials used for making, earn money from making content, and photoshoots and commercial gigs for videogame studios.

Usually about half of my work week is spent making my Etsy orders, I sell a lot of 3D prints, digital patterns and costume accessories there, all designed and handmade by me. The other half of my days are spent planning and making my personal costumes, sharing the progress of those on social media, and fixing/upgrading my 3D printers, designing new 3d models and patterns, or a commercial gig if I have one at the time. 

Do you attend a makerspace/fablab/hackerspace?

I started using a lot of machines that I didn’t have, or didn’t have the capacity for at a FabLab at my local university, where I also graduated with a degree in Game Art. But now I have my own makerspace with more than ten 3d printers and a large lasercutter in my own house! There’s barely anything that I need to outsource, and generally I like to find some way to be able to do everything at home.

Website | facebook | instagram | twitter | Etsy 

What kinds of stuff do you make? 

I’m that person that’ll make the kind of insane costumes you see steal the show at any comic con or viral page: I make huge animatronic wings, LED lighted swords, animal stilts, animatronic monster costumes and intricate detailed costumes using modern techniques such as 3D printing and lasercutting. I complete any project with more costume techniques such as sewing, electronics and foamcrafting, and keep learning new techniques or discover new ways to use 3D printing to tackle a certain problem. 

All my projects are approached digitally: everything gets sketched out in 3D using a 3D scan of myself, before bringing it to the real world. That way I can undo anything before wasting material!

I experiment with a lot of costumes so others can be inspired to try out or use that certain approach for their own project, and to try out what kind of costume parts I can make to sell to other makers to create their own costume project.

btf

How did you get started making stuff?

In my teens i already enjoyed drawing and crafting things a lot, but it wasn’t until I learned of fantasy and rennaisance fairs where I realized I could craft things to wear, and show it off to people who loved doing the same thing. Videogames were my main hobby at the time and as such I mostly started building costumes from videogames, and I choose a degree in Game Art, which taught me a lot about 3D modelling. 

I started using 3D modelling for my craft, and also used craft to pick and build my school projects and eventually everything combined into my job today, when I realized I could sell my makes.

What is something that you’ve made that you’re really proud of?

My most recent costume, Illidan from World of Warcraft, combines many of the things I love to do: it has animatronic wings, large horns, giant LED weapons and 3D printing, and I’m wearing my own design of digitigrade animal stilts to give me demon legs!

What is next on your project list? 

My next project is an armor set from Monster Hunter: I’ll make the Safi’Jiiva armor which has many intricate details and is completely lit up with LEDs. Most of it will be built using my lasercutter, so that’ll be the first costume project to take my lasercutter to the max.

what is something you’d like to work with but you haven’t yet? 

For my future projects I really want to work more with special/pratical effects and special effects makeup that you see in the movies, such as prosthetics and latex bodysuits. My ideal project to get more into this subject would be Kerrigan, Queen of Blades from Starcraft 2.

Any advice for people reading this? 

Follow makers on social media and get inspired by their projects! And if you decide to tackle one yourself, break it down into steps and do a ton of research.

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Senior Editor for Make: I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity of the masses! My favorite thing in the world is sharing the hard work of a maker.

I'd always love to hear about what you're making, so send me an email any time at caleb@make.co

View more articles by Caleb Kraft