Ben's Lens: An Interview with Marta Litwiller

Ben's Lens: An Interview with Marta Litwiller

December 06, 2020

If you know me at all you know I am not very good at anything. I am especially bad at cooking, and most of my friends criticize my palette as I am not an especially adventurous eater. I have gone through many phases in life where I made a smoothie in the morning and then got lunch and dinner from a restaurant every day. Ultimately I realized that the amount of time and money I spend feeding myself was becoming a hinderance to my ability to work. My studio is located in a remote area and there are very food options, all of which close by 8 at night. I somewhat jokingly put an ad on my Instagram looking to hire someone to take care of my meal prep. Marta answered that ad. 

[BB] Tell us a bit about who you are.

[Marta L.] My name is Marta Litwiller, I was born in Ethiopia and moved to the US when I was about 6 years old. After living in Indiana for a couple years my family moved to central Pennsylvania where I grew up and my parents live now. I attended college at Lock Haven University studying sports medicine and playing rugby. That was where I met my fiancée, Drew. After college I followed his work around working in restaurants, in home health care and glass shops.

How did you end up at Bat Country Studios?

Through working in head shops I developed a habit for collecting glass, which is where I found Drinking Vessels. I had never thought about buying handmade cups and immediately loved what you were doing. I bought a set of EWGG @edwolfesgotglass rainbow tumblers as well as a mug and fell in love with cups. As I was scrolling on your Instagram one day I saw a story post that you were in need of a cook. I basically dropped everything I was doing and moved across the country in hopes of working for you around July and have been at the studio almost every day since.

It has been an immense help having you at the studio I am so glad you came. We have to know your favorite food!

Hands down my favorite food is Ethiopian food. It can be an acquired taste for some, but for me it takes me back to my childhood. I always request it when I go home and my mom asks me what I want to eat.

Yum! I rarely eat Ethiopian food. What can you tell everyone about my diet?

I would say your diet is pretty basic, you don't like anything too spicy. You start your morning with a smoothie, since you are the smoothie king. Usually for your 2:30pm breakfast you have eggs, toast, and a hashbrown, or a breakfast sandwich. Most weeks I'll cook a fried rice dish with whatever protein we have, as well as a "dressed up" mac and cheese. Bacon cheeseburgers are a regular. For your dinner you either eat leftovers or make a pizza at home with some added veggies on top. I haven't done many deserts yet, but you seem to like sweets as well.

You live in Minturn now after a few months of commuting from Leadville, what can you share about your view of our little town? 

It’s a very cute, in a way quaint town. You have million dollar homes right beside sheds and trailers. I like it because it is not so “cookie cutter”. I can’t say I love the snow, but the town itself is small and pleasant.

In addition to your role as chef, what else do you do around the studio?

First off, I’m more of a home cook in my opinion. I consider a chef to be a person with formal culinary training. I’ve had no professional training but enjoy it. I also clean, organize, help with shipping and packing when I can, as well as shirt printing with the linoleum block. I also do some sandblasting and anything else thrown my way. Recently I learned how to use a Cricut vinyl plotter and create custom stencils.

 

 

Since you’ve arrived here, you have learned new techniques such as sand blasting and silk screen shirt printing. Do you prefer one process to another?

I enjoy sandblasting more than printing shirts, simply because shirt printing can become monotonous and sandblasting is always something different. Whether it is the design, inverted style, or simply the shape of the cup, it’s always changing.

I can appreciate that for sure. What does a typical day look like for you at the studio?

It’s always changing! I come in and clean, then do anything I need to do until everyone else arrives at the studio. When you get to the studio I make breakfast if you’re hungry and then I will either food prep for the week or unpack incoming shipments of cups. I also organize all of our packing and shipping supplies which come and go daily. Sometimes I run down the street to the post office to drop off packages or check our P.O. box.

When you get to pick the tunes in the shop what do you put on?

I lived in Pittsburgh for the last 5 years so I’m partial to Meek Mill, Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa, J. Cole. I also like my punkish music so I usually just throw my Spotify library on shuffle, which is the most random music you’ll hear.

What do I usually choose for studio jams?

Grateful Dead, funk/instrumentals and sometimes rap I guess. I generally have no idea what songs you are playing so it’s hard to gauge what I should play at times ha.

What else can you share from behind the scenes about how my days look?

I’d call it organized chaos. No matter how much you plan ahead something always seems to come up, but we take it day by day. You whistle a lot, and often walk in circles taking calls on your Bluetooth. Some days when you are on a call we will work around each other as I take non-verbal cues from you as to what needs to be done. Sometimes we can work together for 30 minutes to an hour without saying a word to each other. I often need to remind you to eat, which you do around 2-3 p.m.

Absolutely! Let’s take a moment to talk about your role in creating the Trashterpiece. How did that start for you? How did the vision evolve through the process?

 

 

It started with a bin of glass trash but the vision evolved several times. Initially we were planning to do vertical rainbow stripes with a black/white border. Next, there was an idea to layer those stripes. After that, you came up with the idea to do the rainbow spiral with the multicolor border, which worked out perfectly.

What was the worst part?

Sorting the trash, easily.

What was the best part?

For me, it was the fulfillment of finishing the piece while collaborating alongside other people to get a completed project successfully finished together. 

How many hours do you think you spent on that project in total?

If I had to take a guess it would be between 175 to 200 hours.

Hot diggity dog! Now for some cup stuff, and you know I have to ask…How’s your cup collection?

 

 

Sitting at about 15 right now. I have two made by you and four made by Rob @logglass as well as a few ceramics, a @boomer_glassworks shot glass, a @zooted_glassworks pint and some EWGG. I also gifted some to friends, but it my collection is always growing.

Which cups do we use around the studio?

EWGG mostly, but some of Rob’s and Jason Gordon @gordons_glassware

Who is your favorite cup maker?

I don’t know if I can pick a favorite but I dig Emily Marie @emilymarieglass a lot.

Do you have a favorite cup on the site currently? What about since you have been at the studio? A lot have come and gone!

Not a cup, but I love the BiPolar Space Heady Hydrator, I need to add a bottle to the collection.

Not any more. It’s yours now! Who do you want to see cups from that we haven’t carried yet?

Yeah, thank you for gifting that to me, I was blown away when you handed it to me on Thanksgiving. It’s been days since I’ve had it and I still cant stop catching myself spinning it in my hand and looking at it; I always see something new depending on the lighting. It’s easily the most expensive piece of glass drink-ware that I own, so I’m going to have to step up my cup game up now. To answer the original question though I’m not sure if these people make cups but I would pick @erin.bourguignon and @windstar_glass, I also like @mitoaglass.

Do you have a favorite non-cup piece of art at the studio?

I like the mural above the couch by Jeanette Sweetman, I love the colors and the depth to it.

You have met quite a few artists and some collectors in your months at the studio. Do any of those experiences stand out?

It’s easily Willie the Pimp. He is an art collector and glass enthusiast, and he actually happens to be visiting the studio this week but its always chill when he’s around. That dude loves weed!

For the record, Willie The Pimp is a nickname I gave our homie and longtime supporter who lives in Chicago. The name was borrowed from a Frank Zappa song. Do you have any other hobbies or interests?

I enjoy fishing, and am a serious board game junkie, I also spend a lot of time with my two dogs, Ghost and Mardigan, who come to the studio every once in while.

 

 

While Marta has been handling almost all of my meals since this summer, I still maintain my regiment of making a smoothie nearly every morning. They still call me the smoothie king, but for virtually everything else there is Marta. In addition to keeping me fed, she prepares meals for my entire team and visiting artists so that we can focus on work. I source as much of my food locally as possible and try to eat an all organic diet. Cookies don't count. 

Also my sincere gratitude to Marta for all of her hard work at the studio keeping things flowing so that we can deliver the best customer service and products to you. Without Marta's help things would not be running as smoothly as they are. The Trashterpiece would not have come into existence without her. 

Shoutout to R Farmers Market in Avon who took the place of my butcher that shut down. These guys hook us up with local organic produce, and the best meat I can find. I am hopeful that we will be able to grow some of our own produce in the near future and further our sustainability initiative here at the studio.



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