March 18, 2019

Cristina in the studio

At the beginning of the 3rd year of my Ceramics degree at Cardiff Met my lecturer Natasha was approached with a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with a local chocolatier.

The chocolatier was due to open her shop in the next few months and was hoping to collaborate with a ceramics student to produce some objects that would suit her specific needs. Because of the strong link with food within my practice I jumped at the chance to take on this live project!

Vicky owns and runs Cocoa Therapy in Barry, the shop she opened after working all over the world perfecting her technique and developing her style. She hand-makes each chocolate herself and creates very striking and beautiful chocolates.

Some of Vicky’s beautiful chocolates displayed on one of my platters.

We arranged to meet and discussed ideas and any specific needs and requirements she had in mind. She wanted several objects, the first being a ceramic drinking cup that she could serve hot chocolate in and also sell. She wanted a simple elegant shape but with character and style. She also wanted a design without handles as she wanted the customer to hold the cup with both hands for a comforting feel.

There was also a saucer to go with the drinking cup with space for a chocolate to sit on the side – normal saucers don’t have enough room for the chocolates and they end up touching the side of the hot cup and melting.

The final item was a platter which had slight grooves for chocolates to sit in and not slide around. The platter would be used as a centrepiece on which to serve the chocolates.

Working on the chocolate platter

I decided to use plaster moulds so that I could make the same forms consistently and to a high quality. I have created a platter that I originally carved in plaster and then made a mould of it.

The platter has space for 12 chocolates and an organic but elegant feel to it. It fits the chocolates well, and we are just playing with the final design and colours. For example, at our last meeting she decided she preferred porcelain as the clay body as she particularly liked the finish of unglazed high fired porcelain.

We’re also playing with some different colour combinations and application techniques that resemble some of her chocolates, but that will create contrast. The drinking cup is coming along well – after a few tests we decided the original shapes were a bit too narrow and not comforting enough to hold, so I am currently amending the cup form along with the saucer.

At the moment we’re working to get the colours just right.

There will be a few more tests and experimenting with colours until we achieve a final cohesive design that compliments her brand and that we are both happy with. It’s been a very enjoyable process so far and I am very excited for what will come of our collaboration!

Watch Cristina and other Cardiff School of Art and Design Ceramics students demonstrate their Surface Decoration skills: