Lela Witherspoon creates beautiful resin art, a well as headbands, stickers, jewelry, and other lovely creations, as Moonlit Made. Her colorful creations splendidly combine natural elements with Moth and Myth paper specimens. We recently had the opportunity to chat with her about her art, business, and commitment to sustainability. We hope you enjoy this interview, getting deeper into her motivations and process!
We love that you use eco-friendly packaging and vegan sourced materials! What are your reasons for prioritizing sustainability, and do you find it challenging to do so?
It’s a tough one, because I’m under no illusions that resin is “eco-friendly,” sadly. It is for me an art meant to last a lifetime, and I try and come at it respectful of that. (Although I have been playing around with the “Eco-resin” brand, which is 80% plant based.) But when I got bit by the resin bug, I fell head over heals in love with the process, and I’ve done my best to find areas to bring sustainability to my business.
A big way I’ve done that is with shipping. All my packages are biodegradable, including any tape I might use. I use recycled tissue, or reuse padding from packages I receive. I also don’t go in for all the extras, like little bags of candy, not because I don’t want to, but because it was an easy way to cut down on waste.
I started vetting all my suppliers for being vegan, because I am vegan, and my art supplies are just another extension of that. I didn’t know much about the process to make these things to begin with, and animal testing is so pervasive and disgusting, that I just started emailing people without too much thought. And that’s lead to a lot of mean emails back from companies that are disdainful I would even ask. I just ignored those companies, and purchased from and shared info about companies that responded back positively. And that’s a big reason I’ve loved your brand from the start, you are openly vegan, and just a wonderful, guilt-free, art supply option.
Were do you find your inspiration?
So much of it comes from the moment itself, it’s just play, I live for it. I have all my supplies at my fingertips, and while I usually have some ideas, I really just love going at it. The themes in my pieces usually come from the main centerpieces, like beautiful moths from you, or decals I’ve designed. And all the additions, the glitters, pigments, and florals, they’re like painting in that moment.
What’s your favorite part of your creative process?
With resin is always been the final reveal. I deeply love the pours themselves, that creative time and intense focus. But there is a heavy serotonin buzz that comes from that final peel out of the mold.
Lately, it’s also been the fun process of designing my own molds. It’s a long process, taking it all the way from a sketch on paper, to peeling a finished piece out of a mold I dreamed up. But it’s incredibly satisfying. My husband helps with the mold making, so it’s a team effort.
I’m also getting in to ceramics again, practicing so that I can incorporate it as a part of my shop. I’m madly in love with wheel throwing, and sitting down at my wheel gives me a meditative sense of peace.
Do you experiment while creating, or set out with a plan?
The way I work with resin is a layered process, and a lot of it does take some planning. So as much as I love to “paint” with moths, florals, and glitters, that is one layer of many, and so it’s really a mixture of play and planning.
Your work is so vibrant and uplifting! How would you say that living in San Francisco and being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community influences your work?
That’s the sweetest, thank you! I live outside of San Francisco, and living in the Bay Area is fantastic. But the town I live in specifically is a little conservative, and last year was the very first year my town had a pride celebration. Don’t get me wrong, I love my town, but I’m really grateful to be a part of the budding pride community here. I’m really looking forward to October and this years pride celebration, I got offered a booth, and I can’t wait to be a more visible member of our community. As a pansexual woman married to a man, on the surface I pass for straight. But being open and loud about who I am is important to me, especially because I’m a teacher. (I teach art at a local high school.) So of course my art is an extension of that, and gives me a concrete reason to spread pride and openness locally.
We think it’s great that you share tips and tricks on your account! How do you think members of the arts community can best support and encourage one another?
Sharing my process is extra important to me because it gives me a chance to talk about safety. While epoxy resin has been around and used creatively for decades, it’s really reaching its peak now, and not enough is being said about working with resin safely. You can buy kits geared for children in craft stores. (Which is deeply horrifying.) As resin cures, it off gasses fumes, and should only be used wearing full protective gear and in properly vented spaces. (Properly vented for me turned out to be outside.) So sharing how to dome, or my process for making ears, doubles as a chance to talk about safety, and the teacher in me prioritizes that.
But the perks of creating at a time where resin is at its peak, is that its an incredibly innovative community. But that innovation doesn’t exist in a vacuum, we learn from each other. Instagram is full of amazing artists making amazing things, and it’s incredibly inspiring. I’m just grateful to be a tiny part of that.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Just a thank you to you, Moth and Myth, I love what you do. You fill a niche the art community has for quality moths and butterflies that are sustainable and cruelty-free. I’m grateful for that.
To learn more about Moonlit Made, and for avaialble pieces, please visit their socials and shop!