SHOW OF HANDS

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By found­ing Mud Aus­tralia in 1994, Shel­ley Simp­son ( pic­tured above) pi­o­neered the dish­ware in­dus­try’s re­turn to its ar­ti­sanal roots with her el­e­gant min­i­mal pot­tery. Here, she shares her phi­los­o­phy.

Q WHAT DID THE DISH­WARE MAR­KET LOOK LIKE WHEN YOU STARTED OUT?

Back in the early ’90s, table­ware was highly dec­o­ra­tive, phys­i­cally heavy and vis­ually busy. There was a real gap in the mar­ket for some­thing hand­made, sim­ple and time­less. I wanted to al­low the food to be the hero.

Q WHY IS HAND­MADE SO IM­POR­TANT?

My en­tire busi­ness is based on hand­made – I can’t imag­ine do­ing it any other way. Cus­tomers con­nect to the hu­man touch in our prod­ucts. The slight vari­a­tions and ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties pos­sess warmth and char­ac­ter.

Q TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR PROCESS.

Each piece be­gins with clay im­ported from Li­mo­ges, France. Our team adds pig­ment de­vel­oped and mixed in-house in slip form for colour depth. Next, they cast, hand fet­tle and trim each piece. Clear glaze is then ap­plied to the in­te­rior, while the ex­te­rior main­tains an eggshell fin­ish af­ter fir­ing, a process by which we heat each piece to 1,230°C to vit­rify it. From start to fin­ish, each item takes 48 hours and goes through 10 pairs of hands.

Q WHAT’S YOUR GUID­ING PHI­LOS­O­PHY?

Our fo­cus is on cre­at­ing a work­ing en­vi­ron­ment and com­mu­nity we en­joy with­out get­ting dis­tracted by what other com­pa­nies are do­ing. We like to con­nect peo­ple with the process.

Q WHAT IS YOUR GREAT­EST AS­PI­RA­TION FOR MUD AUS­TRALIA?

To build an en­dur­ing busi­ness that can out­last us.

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