The inspiration behind South African ceramic studio Mustardseed and Moonshine? Flowers. And not just in a loose, abstract way – but rather in the most detailed, involved way possible. So much so that each and every Mustardseed and Moonshine piece is handcrafted with a real flower on hand to serve as a guide, to fully illustrate the intricacies of a petal, a leaf, even a stamen.
Now, if there is anything that fascinates us, it is the step-by-step process behind a craft in an artisan’s studio. And what a process it is: Just one Mustardseed and Moonshine piece takes seventeen different pairs of hands over the course of fifteen-plus days to create.
The first step: Mixing clay, and then cleaning and drying said clay before rolling it very flat and very thin.
Next comes the cutting: One of the forty local artisans employed by the studio will cut and mold individual petals, leaves, buds and more from the flat clay.
Then, the newly formed botanical details are pressed together to create one whole piece, which is then sponged (a process that removes fingerprints, rough edges and other unseemly smudges) and fired to form an unglazed ceramic piece (known as a bisque).
Each piece is then painstakingly hand-painted before receiving the final touch of décor: The Mustardseed and Moonshine decal. A final firing is in next, a process that takes three days, and then the high-shine glaze is added.
After the piece has been cleaned and the rough edges evened, it is fired once more before being packaged up, and sent out around the world. Now, tell us: Could a real blossom do that?