Addison Walz: The Thoughtfully Considered (Soap) Maker
Born in NYC, Addison was raised in Rome, Italy. She has always been interested in objects and processes, form and function. Studying sculpture eventually led her to textiles, and of course then soap. Over the last decade, she experimented with weaving structures, fibrous materials and color (mostly natural), and found a common thread: no matter how much she attempted to transform materials, they would always prove their innate power that would dictate how one was allowed to manipulate them. The core of her interests is a reverence for material and exploration of the tension of art and design, craft and utility. She founded Mater Soap in 2016 with a desire to continue this playful focus.
“The first time I made soap it felt like I was in the early myth of Mount Sapo, in ancient Rome, where some claim soap was discovered by “accident.” As the story goes, after a sacrificial pyre the fat of animals mixed into the ash of the flames, and with the next rain the river was full of suds! I fell in love with the simplicity of soap in its formation and purpose: with every use it disappears a bit more until it has fulfilled its simple duty. An object of perfect utility.”
PP: How did you first discover plant-based medicine?
AW: My father is a dedicated believer in alternative medicine and when I was sick as a kid, he would put five drops of an essential oil blend meant to boost the immune system, down my spine, starting at the sacrum to the neck. To this day, I almost never take aspirin- always peppermint oil on my temples, the nape of my neck and under my nose; for stomach aches- Tarragon, ginger, fennel; Sore muscles, mood stimulants, skin issues… the remedies are endless.
PP: What is one of your key plant-based medicine rituals?
AW: I think my favorite daily rituals is preparing a batch of tea and refilling it so many times, throughout the day, to the point of total dilution when it barely tastes like tea. I usually drink soba, kukicha, or mint.
PP: Do you have a cultural or ancestral connection to any plants?
AW: I can’t claim cultural or ancestral connection… Mostly taught and learned due to health and personal interest. My father really instilled a “questioning” of western medicine (mom died of breast cancer and dad has crohns!) so I was raised using the power of plants to treat the bodily ailments as a way to fill in the gaps of western practices. I would say that my most beloved plant (the most curious one) is mugwort. My most used is Lavender, for it’s incredible skin benefits. My favorite scent is vetiver.
PP: What is the one plant/herb you can’t live without and why?
AW: I love Artemisia Vulgaris (Mugwort). It is a weed that grows all over the North East (even pops up in the cracks of industrial Red Hook, NY) I use it in one of my bar soaps, but it has so many great applications: digestive, skin, dream enhancer, spirit protector and pain relief. I also love Chamomile, it is the soother plant and I always need soothing.
PP: Can you share your favorite self-care practice?
AW: I have never been a very good self-carer and I need to remind myself to take care all the time. I think my favorite self-care practice is when I have a new Mater product sample session in the shower. I bring bar soaps, liquid soaps and oils all in the bath and use them all. It’s an incredible excess but it’s really fun. It forces me to stay in there for a little longer than usual. Also, I love moving my body, nothing too organized, mostly just biking all over and rollerblading. I guess I love to glide and find a lot of therapy in that.
PP: How do you like to use PP in your daily routine?
AW: I take a full dropper of Good Day in the morning. It really helps me settle my chaotic energy in the morning and focus on my tasks. When I get into bed I usually do a bit of knitting or rag rug braiding and take a full dropper of Good Night. It tastes so good… I love the addition of valerian and poppy to my CBD.
PP: What is one organization you think people should know about and support?
AW: Herbal Mutual Aid Network, a true grassroots organization started by two incredible people Yves and Remy, getting free plant-based care to Black people looking for support. It is an incredible resource!
Also, The Parole Preparation Project. I have been a volunteer with them for almost 3 years and it is the most political work I have ever done. The applicant I worked with for 2.5 years was just released from prison after 25 years and it was the most joyous and difficult thing I have ever been involved in.