A stack of iron moons, black terra cotta rolled, pressed, cut, fired. Milky white dessert cups arranged in a still life with melon. Sensual and somatic - a poignant balance of refinement and imperfection was present in each detail of this intimate wedding and reception dinner.
Guests gathered for an outdoor dinner. Each table topped with a sheet of white linen the color of cut radish. Each vase held the velvety, pinnate leaves of silver ragwort, clutches of white zinnia and thick rose crowns the color of ginger cream.
The couple wanted their love and appreciation of the fine and decorative arts to be reflected in every aspect of the day. Paper, pitcher and vase were a homage to fine craftsmanship and beauty.
We used a combination of hand moulded Italian papers and vellum for the invitation suite and menus emphasizing the polarity of the textures. The dense, fibrous invitation and reply card were printed with a soft gray ink in a font suggestive of a carefully handwritten letter. The invitations were overlaid with wafer thin vellum printed with drawings of garden roses in gray and wrapped in silk ribbon - an orchestration of texture and tone. Creamy white wax seals impressed with a bee stamp finished the invitations. Envelopes were lined with a drawing of a single rose in gray repeating the botanical style of the vellum pieces.
Texture and nostalgia were integral to the atmosphere. Bread and butter plates, saucers and glasses resembling 18th century creamware enhanced the dreamy ambiance.
A spectrum of gray, cream and white unified the paper details and ceramics. The menu repeated the vellum of the invitation and was printed with a pale, stone gray ink. Focusing on texture and the subtle tone on tone of transition from white to gray was a nod to the beautifully crafted Astier de Villatte ceramics at the table. Menus were placed atop plates with either gilt edges or beaded rims - a pattern reminiscent of ancient Sasanian glassware.
The slow, rich beauty of stone, slate, ash - gray and its association with the passage of time, memory, storms and wisdom. Astier de Villatte starts with black terra cotta, a unique iron rich clay, which is then covered in a moon white glaze. The contrast of the white on black is a ballet of gradation was our inspiration for the invitation colors.
Stillness and grace often radiate from objects turned by human hands. Their contours and textures are captivating and comforting for those who live in a culture surrounded by the uniformity of factory produced goods. We used hand molded paper, deckled edges and a traditional wax seal to enhance the wavy, natural contour of Astier de Villatte tableware.
Hold an Astier de Villatte cup, look closely and you’ll notice the surface nuances, subtle like the hum of life elsewhere. The light, delicate character of the ceramic is mirrored in the thin, translucent vellum of the invitation enclosure and dinner menu.
Envelopes were lined with gray monochromatic rose drawings in the botanical style. Creamy white wax seals impressed with a bee stamp finished each silk ribbon wrapped invitation. Each envelope was addressed in a modern calligraphic script using a fine gold ink that referenced the gilt strands of the Cresus plates.
Tone on tone, roses in slate, smoke and stone on vellum pair with soft gray ink setting the mood for a midsummer gathering at The Velvet Bee Vineyard in Los Olivos, California.
Handmade paper and ceramics are intimately woven into the story of human progress - civilization as we know it would be impossible without clay and fiber. They share common histories of experimentation, refinement, specialization and artistic expression. The tools and techniques of both trades were perfected over centuries and bear the marks of human ingenuity and passion.
Everything that bears the Astier de Villatte mark is made from start to finish by one of several artisans in a Bastille neighborhood warehouse of Paris. Craftsmen employ a combination of ancient, old world and modern knowledge to create a truly unique body of earthenware. Each mug, shaker and candlestick follows a pattern, but like a music composition each performance is transformed in the hand of the artist.
Astier de Villatte could set a thousand tables with the objects created over its twenty year history and yet each one maintains the integrity and character of old-world craftsmanship. Thin layers of white glaze on smoky black earthenware like wild yeast on grape reflect the founding philosophy that beauty can be found in what has been overlooked and forgotten. Platters and chocolate cups become an elegant testament to the passage of time.
The night swells, food is served, wine generously splashes into the clink clink of glasses and all the white platters, cups and saucers go to seed. But there is one last delight: when plates are collected and stacked like parian towers, their inconsistencies, elegant variations and dark moon smiles appear like black stars in a white sky.
Photographs by Cara Robbins Photography | Astier de Villatte objects from Atmosphere Atelier | Stationery by Honey Paper
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