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The Birth of a Marbled Clay Collection

The Birth of a Marbled Clay Collection

March and April flew by in a whirlwind of long days, each filled with its own unique challenges and triumphs. Yet amidst the chaos, there was an undeniable sense of excitement in the air - a feeling that the fruits of our labour were finally yielding results.  

From Dream to Reality: The Final Countdown

The idea of a handmade marbled clay dinner set had been brewing in my mind for years, a dream waiting to be realised. However, the concept was expensive due to all the variables and work involved, it also demanded a significant amount of my time in the studio. So I had to break the development up into stages. During the quieter moments of 2022 and 2023, I slowly began to lay the groundwork for what would become one of my most ambitious projects to date.

Drawing inspiration from both existing shapes and new requests from you, our customers, I set out to create something truly extraordinary - a collection that would not only showcase the beauty of handmade ceramics and spontaneous practices but also introduce something new to the world of fine dining and food presentation, catering specifically to restaurants and chefs. So when the budget and timing finally aligned, I was ready to dive into the production and give it my full attention. 

High in the Sky: A Bird's-Eye View of Inspiration

Departing Sydney one morning in March, as I flew over Western Australia, I opened my sun shield on the airplane window and was struck by the breathtaking view below. The clouds parted, revealing a crystal-clear bird’s-eye view of awe-inspiring landscapes—east of Broome, near St Georges Range and Bandilngan National Park.

"I felt a deep sense of synchronicity between what I was seeing, experiencing and what I was creating" 

Rivers wound through unique geological formations, their patterns and colours uncannily mirroring what I was attempting to create in a dinner plate form. In that brief moment on the plane, I felt a deep sense of synchronicity between what I was seeing, experiencing and what I was creating. Witnessing nature at her best felt like a little nod from life, encouraging me in the midst of this larger project, that I was on the right track. I exhaled a little sweetly.  

Paradise Found: Creating Ceramics in the Land of Smiles

Touching down in Thailand, I was admittedly a bit worn out from the Christmas and summer trading frenzy. Not quite recovered and with a tight agenda ahead, the first step in finalising the collection was ironing out the kinks in shapes, and identifying bottlenecks in the casts that skewed the marbling pattern. This marbling is a blend of four clays—Red, White, Speckled Sandstone, and black—to mirror the natural clay diversity seen in nature. Marbling clay is a mesmerising dance of spontaneity, where the hands of the maker dictate the pattern's fate. 

Experimentation ensued with glazes; the challenge was to enhance without overshadowing. A gloss glaze was a no-brainer for strength and sealing, and that was finalised before I arrived. But for culinary aesthetics, I needed a second glaze option that would allow food colours to take centre stage, but not reflect light like the gloss did. A satin semi-matte emerged as the winner after a series of trials and tribulations.

It’s just the right milky white tint to gently hush, but not hide, the character of the marble, it would also defuse light which is important for food photography and food styling. We also fired ten rounds of a solid matte white over a three month period, with the last trial firing taking place while I was in the studio. But each firing got a little further away form the goal, if anything creating more challenges. After reviewing all the samples of the solid matte white it was time to call it a day on that vision. For now.

With shapes finalised and tweaked, and the glaze perfected, our studio was geared up for production, a four-month process filled with anticipation for everyone involved. Marbling was a first for the studio too. Shape by shape, the collection was getting ready to meet the world. Yet, despite my excitement, a tinge of nervousness still lingered. Will the collection resonate as I envision?

 

Elephant Encounters: Office Views Like No Other and The Final Countdown

My love for Thailand runs deep. Working with Thai ceramists and artists is far from a chore; it’s a joy. The food, the culture, the teachings, and the stunning nature all speak to my heart. Working from Thailand feels like working from paradise most, if not all, of the time.

One morning, on my way to the studio, I stopped by an elephant sanctuary in the middle of a national park. I'd never seen an elephant up close before, and watching a caretaker wash and groom the gentle giant was incredibly calming. As I fed the elephant a banana, I thought, "This is not a bad office view for a Thursday morning.” 

My next visit back to the studio is in the middle of June, to check everything went to plan, to work through any hiccups, and to help carefully pack the collection for shipping. Wow, a two-year journey finally coming to see the light of day.

If you haven’t subscribed to our mailing list, I encourage you to drop your email in there as we are producing a limited number of marbled clay dinnerware pieces in the first round of firing. And if you know of anyone that would benefit from being introduced to the collection and to us, please help us grow by sharing our story.

Next stop: India.

 

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