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Autumn is such a magical time! It's time for comfy sweaters, warm drinks and pretty colors. Speaking of drinks, a beautifully decorated mug may surely add to the joy of savoring our favorite hot beverage, so it’s worth choosing wisely.

Searching for autumn-inspired creations, our attention was caught by the work of Mihaela Cheșcu. “When I create, it is characterized by color and cheerfulness,” says the artist whose first encounter with polymer clay was over nine years ago.

Mihaela taught herself the art of modeling polymer clay. “I am a self-taught artist,” she reveals. “Because of this, I learned to improvise a lot. For example, especially at the beginning, when the necessary tools were not accessible to me, I had to adapt tools from other fields. Even now I work with many manicure tools. The modeling part came easily, almost instinctively. My first creations were small pieces.”

Looking at Mihaela’s creations, her dedication for doing an exquisite job is almost palpable. From the choice of colors to the fineness of the edges, every detail is taken care of to fit harmoniously. “I avoid using silicone molds as much as possible,” says the artist, who loves the process of transforming a shapeless lump of clay and watching it take shape using just her hands and a few modeling tools. “I'm the type of artist who prefers to create every curve with the knife, so it takes time to achieve the desired result. I like to give each piece my full attention.”

Because most of the time her works are custom orders, the artisan likes to say that she brings dreams and desires to life. "Smiles on command” is the way the artist’s sister describes Mihaela’s creations. Sometimes it's a challenge to do custom work, but Mihaela likes challenges because they push her out of her comfort zone.

When she’s choosing the theme to work on, nature is often chosen as a source of inspiration. Mihaela is also inspired by the world of children and animals. “The autumn leaves were inspired by a walk with the neighbor's dog,” she says. “The wind had picked up after the rain and the driveway next to the building was littered with leaves. I picked up a leaf from the ground because I liked the color. It still had green on it, even though it was late fall. So, I decided to keep the leaf and make earrings to wear as a memory. And now comes the improvised part: I used the leaf from nature to leave a mark on the clay. Then I worked out the details.” Since then, Mihaela has only used leaves from nature for her projects. The individuality of each leaf makes every piece distinctive and unrepeatable.

Long walks through autumn days also brought the inspiration for the mugs. The idea was born after gazing at the wind lifting out the leaves, in combination with the students coming out of school. They were playing with fallen leaves on the driveway. That is why the girls on the mugs have a bouquet in their hands and a carpet of leaves at their feet.

Besides being her full time job, claying for Mihaela is a form of relaxation, stress release and healing. She loves what she does and that brings her joy and fills her life with a sense of purpose.