Art Talk with Mic von Moltke, Artist and Creator of Creative Basket Handbags from South Africa
There’s something about handmade bags that’s quite incomparable. Just like these creative basket handbags—simply gorgeous in every detail. Join us as we talk with the artist and creator, Mic von Moltke, about her inspirations and creative process for her artwork.
Musa Creativa Magazine (MC): Tell us about yourself and your work as an artist.
Mic von Moltke: I should probably start with my parents emigrating from Amsterdam to Africa at the end of WWII. I like to say that I was ‘born in passing’ in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe as shortly after I was born, we moved to live in Uganda and then Kenya. Due to the political unrest in both countries at the time, my parents decided to emigrate to South Africa when I was six years old. Driving from Kenya to South Africa through the endless savannah plains of veld grass dotted with the green acacia thorn trees, contorted rock formations, and wild animals. Local people, sunny skies, and seeing tons of local crafts alongside the roads are what probably formed my sense of design. This has stayed with me throughout my life. I love beautiful things, and I am especially drawn to beaded crafts and baskets.
I enjoy working with mixed media and have worked on numerous different art projects. From handcrafting paper, painting and embellishing terracotta pots with African and Indian motifs and handcrafted beadwork, to making Jewellery. Although I don’t have any formal training in art, I have always been passionate about creating beautiful things. My interests lie in interior design, gardening, cooking, and crafting–and take a very artistic approach to all of these. There is nothing more rewarding for me at the end of the day than to step back and see what I have created. It is my way of showing my love to my friends and family and also feeling good about myself.
MC: What motivated you to start your business?
Mic von Moltke: I was not specifically looking to start a business; I just had the urge to create. It turned out that people actually liked what I was creating–my embellished Gootchi Handbags! Gootchi Baskets have blossomed into the décor range, the BYO (bring your own) wine bottle range, and the von Gootchi range (handbag with a removable scarf or wrap). I am sure that it won’t stop here as I am always finding new ways in which to embellish something!
MC: How did you first start the creation of these creative basket handbags?
Mic von Moltke: Funny enough I was working with my sister-in-law on a line called ‘Oh Baby’ for her Party Décor Hire business, and I was creating baby décor items. All of the items that I made had pom-pom’s, wooden beads, tassels, and garlands on them. Hundreds of poms later, they found their way onto baskets. And then it happened…I was sourcing my baskets through a local vendor from Malawi when I spotted a simple beautiful structured woven reed handbag. I fell head over heels in love with it!
This is when I knew I had found my niche to work with basket handbags and could take the art of embellishments to a different level. The key to my design is to use local materials from Africa. Items such as woven baskets, mud cloth, beads, and crafts made by other local artisans. To bring everything together in a curated way. The process of creating a Gootchi Basket is much like decorating a room. You start off with a base and you add layers to the design until you have a pleasing product.
MC: Tell us about the creation process of your Gootchi Silk Tassel & Neutral Fringe handbag. How long did it take to make this piece?
Mic von Moltke: This particular bag is all about strong contrasts of texture and colors. What sets it apart is the use of the earth-toned mud cloth with its striking bold geometric design with colors of black, brown, and ivory. This striking bag is further embellished with a flowing silky layer of long fringe tassel–which represents the long veld grass of the open plains in Africa. Then, there is a layer of coarse jute off-set by soft playful black pom poms and natural colored wooden beads. Peeking through the layers is the beautiful woven texture of the basket itself.
The creation of each Gootchi bag starts off with an inspiration point. In this case, the earth-toned geometric mud cloth, and then layers of passementerie are added to the design. This is where tassels, trims, local crafts, and pom poms are added to the story to possibly become the star of the show! Before the fun part of embellishing can begin, an inner lining is made and measured specifically for each bag – this is the hardest part for me and takes the longest to make. The whole process of creating a Gootchi Basket Handbag can take anywhere from two to four days.
MC: How is your personality reflected in your artwork?
Mic von Moltke: This is a tough question and it’s actually quite revealing! I am a very structured person; I am very symmetrical in most things I design. Personally, I think it’s important to add a bold statement or focal point to any design whether it be with color or something playful. I love to be surrounded by beautiful things as it makes me happy and created I create to show my love. I’ve discovered that life is too short to ‘blend in’. This is how my personality is reflected in each Gootchi Baskets.
MC: Lastly, what does being an artist mean to you?
Mic von Moltke: Being an artist means the ability to take your story and create something beautiful with it. Something lasting, something to be admired and treasured. It’s when you allow all of your 6 senses to align in harmony, to create your “happy space” for your creativity to flow. The creation of each Gootchi Basket allows me to touch each and every sense. My strongest sense–the sense of smell, starts off with the woven grass basket as this is the smell of Africa! Baskets have this natural earthy aromatic scent. And because our olfactory sense is so close to tasting, sometimes I can taste the sweetness of the grass.
Being an artist means the ability to take your story and create something beautiful with it. Something lasting, something to be admired and treasured. It’s when you allow all of your 6 senses to align in harmony, to create your “happy space” for your creativity to flow.Mic von Moltke, Artist and Creator of Gootchi Basket handbags
Then, I combine the sense of touch and sight. I work with different materials such as fabrics, tassels, trims, wool, arts, and crafts. The many beautiful songbirds that populate the beautiful garden in our Hout Bay home fulfill my sense of sounds as I work on each of my creations. I always work in silence–no music or TV to distract me. I prefer the sounds of nature to accompany my concentration. Lastly, my 6th sense is when I am in a happy space. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the whole wide world! It’s also where the creativity starts to flow because I am where I love to be–back in Africa!
Connect with the artist of these creative basket handbags!
Online shop: https://gootchi.co.za