· By Tarleton Walmsley
By now you might be familiar with MAWA Ceramics, the makers of everyone's favorite ceramic one hitters. Sold exclusively at Garden Party, these one hitters are the perfect device for a smoke session because the handpainted art on them already transports you to an alternate world filled with smoking aliens and ladies with giant blue hair. It's like if the B-52s were trapped inside Wonderland and that's a place I want to be.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Jess and Mads in their studio located inside Clayspace Co-op in the River Arts District. It was fun to get a peek into their creative world and learn about their process in detail. Below is a Q&A with Jess and Mads so you can get to know them too.
First things first. What does MAWA mean?
MAWA is a hybrid of our names. Ma for Mads and Wa for Wassil, my last name. We like how it can mirror itself in our logo.
Where are you from originally?
Mads: I grew up in rural Denmark on a small island called ALS. A very peaceful place close to the seashore and forests.
Jess: I grew up in Orlando, Florida… very opposite of peaceful Denmark -close to characters and alligators.
How did the two of you meet? How long have you been creating together?
We met 2 hours after I landed in Copenhagen. Mads was standing in the middle of a sidewalk basking in the sunshine and a mutual friend of ours introduced us and we’ve been conjoined ever since!
Pretty much ever since we met in Copenhagen we seemed to have our creativity restored in meeting each other. It started by making paper mobiles in Mads’ tiny apartment and a never ending art date ensued!
What is the process of creating a new ceramic like for you?
All of our ceramics are hand built which means we do not use the wheel in the process. This leaves an “imperfect” one-of-a-kind feel to every piece. We collaborate on what we want to make but also work independently.
Mads sculpts every piece with great care to detail, then when the clay is dry I take over and add my paintings.
How do you come up with the things you paint?
I have always been a fan of quirky characters/underdogs and can’t seem to help applying these humorous beings into my work. I try not to overthink too much while painting and let the whimsy guide me, which usually ends up being a colorful feminine design.
What do you think about when you're creating a new piece?
We try to create unique forms in every batch and think about the function, the person on the other end holding our work, how it makes them feel. We want to push our creativity and have fun at the same time. We just try to be present in the process and stay curious!
What's it like working with your significant other?
Being able to create this collaboration together is such a dream come true. We have full trust in each other and we try to support each other’s ideas and creativity in the process. We just feel very lucky that we work so well together and are pretty delighted when we open the kiln after a glaze fire. The best feeling ever!
What helps you get creative, especially if you're experiencing burnout?
Jessica: For me, sometimes I just need to zone the heck out and stare at a wall, people watch or take a walk. Then I keep going! Even if you are disappointed in what you’re making, it can end up being something you love or the launching pad to the next idea.
How long have you lived in Asheville? What made you decide to move here?
Almost 2 years! We wanted to be closer to Jessica’s family in Florida but not tooo close. Haha. We heard about the amazing art community here and have just been so fortunate in the new friendships and connections we have made so far. We love it here!
What does a perfect day in Asheville look like to you?
Coffee! Walks in nature, thrift store hunts and tacos!
What's your favorite way to relax/hang/chill?
Jessica: I would say blankets, snacks and movies. Mads relaxes by whittling spoons any chance he gets!
Want to learn even more about this duo? MAWA will be at our holiday party this Thursday from 6-9 with their full line up of goods. Come say hi!!
Can't make it? That's ok, you can shop MAWA here.