Although Belgium is a very small country, it took me 4 hours (!) to get to Margot’s house. Sun was present, but the traffic jams even more. Nonetheless it was all worth it to get there! My admiration and respect were already present on day 1 but the more you know about Margot, her approach and her work, the more you admire what she is capable of. Margot Thyssen is a ceramist and always looking for pureness, harmony and simplicity within her work. These elements are reflected in the smallest details.
Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.
Ever since she was a little girl, Margot was surrounded by a creative family. Her grandmother taught her the secrets of hand-and needlework, her mother and uncle were all very good in drawing and painting and it was clear that little Margot was talented too. She started her career as graphic designer but when her two sons were born, Margot became a full time mother. A creative one of course.
Some 10 years ago, during a home decoration workshop, Margot Thyssen discovered the beauty of porcelain and fell in love with the unique features of the material. Life always has its ups and downs. That’s why it is called ‘life’ I suppose. Life hasn’t always been “peachy” for Margot, however she managed to translate all of the power that was in her into an inexhaustible drive and dedication to work with porcelain. Working with porcelain is not easy and requires knowledge and experience. Margot was patient, determined and adamant: she deepened herself into the multilayer slip casting technique for many years, which has now become one of the main characteristics of her work. With this technique, the middle color seems to be ‘caught’ between the two outer layers, which result in very unique and beautiful outcomes.
"Zelfs na al die jaren blijven de transparantie-eigenschappen van porselein me intrigeren"
- Cup & saucer by Margot Thyssen for LECHAPERON -
The grey color on the inside and the grey line on top of the cup and the saucer are made possible by the multi-layer technique of margot. she uses the multi-layer slipcasting technique whereby the transparency of the porcelain comes to the fore. because of this technique, the grey porcelain is ‘caught’ between the 2 outer layers. as a result of the high temperature of the oven and the transparency features of the porcelain, the inner grey layer becomes visible on the inside of the cup and on the surface of the saucer.
That's what it takes
Perfectionism, patience and perseverance are key to do what she does. Besides talent of course. When Margot talks, you can almost feel her modesty and integrity. While talking, it’s beautiful to see how uncertainty, pride and happiness alternate in one single conversation. But in this case uncertainty is needless, as Margot is good at what she does. There is one thing though that concerns her : “Sometimes it is frustrating to feel that not everyone is aware of what is needed to come to one single result. People don’t understand the process, the long working hours that are needed to create the perfect object with my multi-layer technique. Sometimes it takes a year to come up with a new design. You have to create, test and test again because you never know how the porcelain will (re)act when you put it in the oven. There aren’t many ceramists that use this multi-layer technique, because it is a very time-consuming technique. You have to be patient to obtain the final result.”
Beautiful things do not ask for attention. They just are.
Margot explains that she doesn’t like talking about what she does or where she gets her inspiration from. Her work is a result of trying out and searching for new techniques & designs until she is happy with the result. That’s who she is and how she works. Margot isn’t a storyteller. She just loves what she does and is passionate about working with the material. “There is no great story behind what I do”, she laughs. “It is what it is.” The material leads her to new designs. She creates two kind of objects : art and functional objects. “It’s always my goal to make beautiful objects. That’s all there is.”
- The liling ceramic museum in China. One of the places Margot would love to go during a trip to China - (Picture cfileonline.org)
When you receive a product from the Margot Thyssen label, please take the time to look at the box in which the porcelain is wrapped. There you’ll find a Chinese logo… When you think about China as the cradle for porcelain, you may assume that it’s logic to use a Chinese text or logo for a brand. To Margot, it’s different. She has a personal and special connection to China. One of her two sons lives in China and a couple of years ago, she received a stamp with this logo as a gift from him. The Chinese logo isn’t a translation of her name, but it tells something about her as a person. It’s the meaning that counts. “Dong fang Yuè. Only the surname (Yuè = 悦) has a meaning and stands for ‘happy, joyful’.” Margot was so touched by this gesture that she wanted to integrate this into her work. “It is my way of saying ‘thank you’ for this beautiful gift”. Beautiful adjectives to describe Margot Thyssen. Beautiful thought to transfer to someone precious.
De best way to predict the future, is to create it.
In 2014 she received the Henry van de Velde label for the ‘TWINS’ collection. A great sign of recognition for her work as a professional ceramist. The recognition she gets for her work nowadays is very stimulating to continue and to push herself to higher levels. “Applying my technique on bigger porcelain objects would be my next challenge. It is possible. I just need to find a way to make it possible, without having to compromise in what I stand for”.
I’m already sitting in my car, ready to drive back home, when Margot comes running out of her atelier with a mold in her hands. “Look, this is what I meant when I told you about the thickness of the porcelain.” Margot shows me the mold and treats me for a last time on an explanation about one of her porcelain models. That’s what they call ‘passion’, isn’t it?