The art of clay has always been a subject of great human interest. Especially when it comes to that, Bengali’s interest gets suddenly infused with a lot of complicated sentiments, that comes straight from our heart. This might happen because of the fact the clay and pottery have been an imminent part of our cultural heritage. This specific form of art has helped to create multiple small and medium enterprises in our country. In recent days, modern art enthusiasts have taken up working with this on a new level. Although the key ingredients for this line of craft are slightly different from the ingredients of pottery, the passion, dedication, and effort are exactly the same. Monaf is one such beautiful line of day-made ornaments, which reflects the beautiful infusion of modern art and individual interest in adorning. The creative pair of hands that are responsible for giving these malleable ingredients an aesthetic life belongs to Mouna. Today, we will know about the tidbits of her small business alongside the details of her art journey.
Content Editor: Rifah Nawar
IG handle: @parchmentstains
Q. Tell us a little about your creative journey, how and when did it spark a start?
What can I say? I guess it was within me from the beginning. I remember I had Drawing Classes in my Primary School and my drawing teacher used to ask me if I took other drawing courses elsewhere because of how good I drew at that age. Appreciation from people around me was a major key for me to really dive deep into arts and crafts. It started from there, some simple drawings. Then I got more into sketching and painting and just about everything related to arts and craft.
A little appreciation goes a long way- Mouna’s life as a successful virtuoso is the perfect reflection of this age-old axiom. Appreciating the smallest works of children and encouraging them to pursue them can play a vital role in shaping up the hidden potential of a child and ultimately help them to flourish properly. Mouna’s artistic self is the living proof of it.
Q. What are your indispensable tools and materials?
To be honest I don’t use any expensive tools per se. Ordinarily, I make the most of the things I find around the house. When I started working with clay, the first thing I did was search my entire house for alternative tools – and I collected from pens to needles to toothpick; anything that I thought could be useful. For example, I use caps of water bottles and pots as a circular clay cutter rather than cookie cutters or clay cutters. For material, I’m more comfortable working with clay because I feel like, with clay, the sky is the limit.
To be honest, we love how Mouna attempts on substituting almost indispensable crafting tools and materials with something very random to ensure a sustainable process of producing her craftworks. Sustainability, these days, has become more like a fad and as much as people like to talk about it, very few people can actually stick to its principles. This is where the products of Monaf are different. Not only is their key ingredient, clay, derived from mother nature but also they endure a procedure that involves recycling materials and products.
Q. Where do you look for inspiration?
Everywhere! Well, mostly Pinterest is my favourite place to get lost in the ocean of inspiration. But as it happens, I constantly find myself looking for colour combinations or patterns in people’s clothes or maybe a wallpaper that caught my eye.
It’s always a wise decision to look into people’s choices to precisely learn about what they would actually prefer in our products. That’s how it becomes easier to learn about the consumer demand and incorporate it within the inspiration into the products.
Q. Where do you see yourself/ your business in the next 5 years? Do you have a vision?
When MONAF was founded, I didn’t anticipate that it would turn out to be the way it did. MONAF is still a pretty small family but the response I got from people only within a few months was overwhelming for me. I started because I thought it’s time I put my works out in the world. But seeing how everyone loved my works, made me think that may be one-day MONAF could be a name the world recognizes. In the next 5 years, I’d like to expand MONAF more for possibilities but keeping the three points intact – handmade, original, aesthetic.
These days it has become hard to find products that are produced from scratch and moulded with hand-made love. To be precise, it is hard to find products that match the calibre that Monaf has already been able to set. We wish that this dainty clay ornament shop of ours reach every big and little milestone.
Q. Among all the things you create, what is your most favourite craft?
The funny thing is every time I finish creating something, I say “I think this is my best work yet”. I can never choose one to call my favourite. But if I really had to choose, I’d say the first piece I ever made for MONAF. I actually never posted any pictures of it anywhere and it was not up for sale because it wasn’t really a good design. But it has sentimental values to me. I made that pair in the middle of the night, and if I just slept that night – probably none of these wonderful things would have happened to me!
Hahaha, and if Mouna had slept that night, we might not have been able to delight ourselves with such wonderful clay-made products! Indeed the beginning of the journey of Monaf is equally magical and sweet. And we completely agree with Mouna; it’s a really hard task for an artist to differentiate his or her own creation.
Q. Other than crafting, what other hobby do you have?
Any form of art soothes me. If I start naming every hobby it would be a long list to finish. In a nutshell, I like exploring my artistic side a lot. Painting, sketching, sculpting, you name it. I like to think that I have a soul of an artist and I’m up for experimenting with anything related to arts and craft. I do like to do the occasional photography too.
When it comes to the hobbies or side-hustles of an artist, they somehow are linked to art! The rule is applicable for Mouna as well. Her personal account is the montage of all her passion ad truly reflects how much she cares about basic aesthetics when it comes to representing various aspects of life before the world: be it her passion for clay-arts or just a tea-moment.
Q. Do you have any special piece of work which holds a good memory?
The one that pops into my head would be the Sunflower pair. That design was midnight “EUREKA!”. The day I shared pictures of that earring; I think was the day people got the ambience that I was trying to put out in the world. It was just a happy day for me; the day I felt like I’m actually doing something that everyone appreciates. I still look back to that day whenever I’m feeling unmotivated and it instantly gives me the energy to do something spectacular.
We know exactly about the piece Mouna is talking about! To be honest, we have been avid fans of her product and thus we’ve been keeping up with her creation for quite a long time. That’s why, when she had first put those sunflower studded pitch-dark circular pair of earrings it immediately caught our attention. Needless to say, we also noticed that it got sold really quickly (and thus we failed to bag those pair of gems).
What is your advice to newbie artists and crafters?
I like to think I’m still a newbie too. But for what I’ve been through and how MONAF was built, the only advice I can give at the moment is – don’t you dare ever give up. Even when all the odds are against you, and you feel like you’re going nowhere; especially then. Don’t give up.
One of the Latin proverbs that we strongly believe in is “Fortune favors the brave”. After our conversation with Mouna, we found another like-minded soul. She’s worked really hard to get where she is and the path she had decided to tread on is definitely not an easy one. Most of the time it happens so that many people take up their passion as their career. But we know successful ventures don’t work that way and so does Mouna. Possible that’s one of the reasons behind Monaf’s wide-reaching fame. We are really glad to be able to see this journey of Monaf and wish to stick by to see this venture grow big and bigger.
Don’t forget to head over to the social media accounts of Monaf and check out her amazing creations! Show some love and support while you’re there <3