How a Ceramics Master Makes Plates for Michelin-Starred Restaurants — Handmade

How a Ceramics Master Makes Plates for Michelin-Starred Restaurants — Handmade

(upbeat music) – It’s super exciting to me, that our company is sending
300, 350 pieces out the door, every day to a lot of the
world’s best restaurants. Lots in the US, Canada,
South America, in Europe, we’re in Australia,
we’re in Middle East now. Occasionally, I’ll try to figure out how many people eat off
my plates every day. Quite a few. (dramatic music) We operate almost the
same way a kitchen does, we come in early. You know, what are we making that day? We call that our menu. Start up with the prep, the clay prep. Make sure you have the right
amount of raw materials. Getting the stages ready. So there’s definitely like
a rhythm to every day, a lot of teamwork and
coordination necessary. And communication makes
us feel more connected to the world of restaurants
that we are so interested in. We run our clay through our
pugmill, which de-airs it. Over time, certain types of rock under certain conditions of pressure, and moisture, and heat, they
decompose and clay is formed. Tiny, flat little particles, and that gives them their plasticity. The way they stick together with water is something that humans have
used for thousands of years, doing what we do. We take the canvas texture off the slab, ’cause if we left it on there, the back of the plate would
have a canvas texture on it. So now we’re gonna lay out our plates. All of our different shapes
are marked on this pastry ring. When we make 10 1/2 inch
dinner plate, we put it there. When we make a salad plate, there, so this is our guide
for our forming people. The three kinds of clay are earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. Earthenware is generally still porous, it’s like terracotta pots. Porcelain is more of a pure form of clay, and it’s similar to stoneware. It’s higher-fired, it’s very
hard, very low absorption. We work with mainly stoneware,
more of a harder product. Less porous really does
help for dinnerware, and it gives us a beautiful,
durable finished product. (knife sharpening) Each mold has a corresponding blade. This is made of plexiglass,
and this is what shapes the face of the plate. So we have over 50 shapes
that we can make here. I’ll design a plate,
then I’ll make a drawing. These are made of plexiglass,
so I cut these out, and I’m constantly kind
of reshaping these. This is a blade that
would’ve made the molds, ’cause you can see the
exterior, you can see the foot. This would make plates. You can see how I kind of
designed the thickness. Yeah, so, and then it’s
all adjustable too. So here’s a coffee cup, like here’s a blade that
forms the inside of a bowl. So we make all the molds here, we make all the templates here,
we make all the blades here, that’s what allows us to not only make a great amount of pieces per day, but to make a great
variety of pieces per day. (upbeat music) Now I’m just looking at the gap here, to get the plate the
thickness that I want. Smooth side down. (slow instrumental music) With the restaurants we work
for require a consistent, and a uniform product, because
they’re running a restaurant. One of the hardest things that
you could ask a potter to do, is to make hundreds of
nice uniform plates. When they see that they
can have a uniform product with, you know, a nice bit
of handmade variation to it, that’s kind of what a lot
of them are looking for, and that’s what we do. I took my first ceramics
class in ninth grade. It’s the kilns, the firing, the glazes, the smell when you walk into a studio, it just hooked me right away. There’s a bit of a void on my rim, but if I just give it time, gradually the clay will move,
and compress, and fill that. See that, now that void is filled. I see a little bit of
air bubbles in the clay. But even that, just a
nice steady pressure, it won’t wanna move when I fire it. A lot of other processes might leave a bit of a memory in the clay, which can kind of come
back during the firing in the form of warpage. It’s important to really take
your time with this pressure. That clay is all really
compressed and happy. (calm instrumental music) There’s something beautiful
about a handmade plate, where each one is gonna be one of a kind. We leave kind of just the
minimal amount of handmade touch, and that’s always enough. The first really big job was the NoMad Hotel in New York City, so this was an order
of about 6,000 pieces. I was pretty much working alone. I actually outsourced a
lot of the work to Ohio. One piece they couldn’t really
do well, was the coffee cup. While they were finishing production, I was back here stressing out about how was I gonna
make them 400 coffee cups by the time they opened,
which now seems like something that would be really easy for us. But that was what led me
to the jiggering process, Which is the process of
placing a mold onto a wheel, then you have an arm
with a template attached. And that’s what has really
opened up doors for us, in terms of being able to do the entire collection ourselves, the entire thing here. Let it dry for about an hour to two hours, then it gets to this stage
where it’s called leather hard. It’s still wet, but firm and workable. And we trim the rim of
the plate, very important for durability to have
a thick rounded edge, not a thin edge. All you’re doing here, is you’re making the exterior
of the plate look good, ’cause that’s gonna be unglazed. You want this to be
pretty, like, flawless. So after we finished the NoMad, all I really wanted to do
was kind of take a month off, but their sister restaurant Eleven Madison Park need new plates, so that was kind of a one, two punch. The Eleven Madison Park stuff we did in our studio here, 100%. That was a pretty amazing look, and I think doing that job really helped the handmade dinnerware
movement kinda take hold. Because Eleven Madison Park
was using handmade stoneware, all the sudden, lots of other restaurants were really interested in it. There was kind of a line
of restaurateur and chefs, waiting to work with us and talk to us. Now we’re in about over 250 restaurants. During the bisque firing,
which is the first firing, that’s about a 24 hour process. The heat is removing all the water and burning off any
remaining organic material that’s in the clay to about 1,800 degrees. (upbeat music) (bowl rings) This is the bisque inventory, so this is all of our dark clay. This is all of our toasted clay, so we could take stacks
of bowls outta here, glaze ’em up, throw ’em
in the kiln tonight, and they’ll be ready for
the restaurant tomorrow. (air blows) Glazing is kind of the
most important step, because if you screw that step up, there’s really no way to save the piece. Glaze is composed of
clay, glass, and flux, and then some colorants or
other minerals to give it color. And you can vary the proportions of those to give your glaze more of a matte look, more of a shiny look. The key to glazing without
having a lot of defects show up, is having good bisque. If you have little
voids in your clay body, that could cause pin holes in the glaze. If you have a dirty piece of bisque, the glaze might not stick. It’s all about just getting it even, then I wipe it just to give a little more crispness to that edge. You can see how fast it dries. The second firing, which is
up to about 2,200 Fahrenheit, heat and time are working on the piece to melt that clay, melt
that glaze, fuse it all into one really strong product. The maturing temperature refers to the right
amount of heat and time that a clay body requires for it to melt and become a durable ceramic product. Stoneware and porcelain
will shrink 12 to 14%, from when they’re wet to when
they’re a finished plate. Well we buy clay that is
formulated to fire to cone six, so this is cone five and cone six. This is before, this is after, and these measure temperature and time. So every firing, we have probably at least a half a dozen of these
scattered throughout the kiln to see just how hot or cool the kiln is. The glaze firing is
about a 14 hour process, and that is to 2,200 Fahrenheit. It’s going through so much heat, melting, and vitrifying, and
maturing all the minerals that are in the clay. This has been fired to
1,800 and had glaze applied. That glaze is still powdery and loose. Once this is fired again, this is what’ll come out of the kiln, will darken down to this. There is still a fun aspect
to opening the kiln every day. There’s our matte green, midnight moss. This is our barista espresso cup, which has a perfect curve at the bottom. This is my biggest plate. – [Producer] How big is that? – 13 inch. My philosophy as a designer, is I like to let the materials
really speak for themselves. One of the most important things
that I think about always, how does the food look on it? We’re trying to think like
a chef, look at their menus, look at their past experience. Not only, you know, have we built up a level of knowledge about what we do, and about how restaurants
operate, and what they need, we’ll also be here in five
years or 10 years down the road, and they’ll still be able to get the same 10 1/2 inch Coupe plate with dark clay and a certain glaze. Now the responsibility is more on us to keep creating a really good product, something unique, locally made, handmade, and something they
can’t get anywhere else.

100 thoughts on “How a Ceramics Master Makes Plates for Michelin-Starred Restaurants — Handmade”

  1. Fun fact: the human hand is the best tool in the world and this video proves it. The human hand created everything from tools to machines into buildings.

  2. Isn't this about 10 minutes longer than most Millennial Documentaries? How are they going to make it all the way through?

  3. do you have any idea how many plates ive broken working in the restaurant industry lol this video is making me nervous just thinking about it

  4. Imagine what his output would be professionally if he got rid of that full-fish format staff — replace those slow, useless creatures with men and the entire world could be eating off your plates!

  5. I had a class like this in high school, unfortunately the rejects would also be in my class and would ruin the experience. I wish kids weren’t forced to go to school if they didn’t want to just so the ones that do can focus more.

  6. Ceramics Master?….. Julia Galloway is a ceramics master. this guy runs a studio where plates are cut from slabs and throwing a done with a dye. lol this is a joke

  7. The western world are really stuffed when a cup maker makes the news… the western world is going to collapse like what happen in China after Tang Dynasty

  8. I wonder if after automation really takes off, that it will free up resources for more of us to pursue stuff like this – hand made items simply for the sake of them. If we can figure out how to take care of everyone, we could have a real renaissance on our hands.

  9. I'm a dishwasher, and I totally just recognized where all my plates and bowls come from!

    Props! This is awesome. I'm gonna wash more thoughtfully now <3

  10. handmade


    Learn to pronounce


    made by hand, not by machine, and typically therefore of superior quality.

    so i guess it aint hand made

  11. As an advertising bit for this guys successful business, it’s well done. As a docu-short about making pottery this was very artfully shot! I have much esteem for artists who make functional things from natural inputs.

    I look at my plates now and see “peasant discs”. 😯

  12. As a potter I would think it would be depressing to turn the art of wheel throwing into an assembly line using molds. It’s an honest business and I’m glad to see hand made ceramics in peoples homes and businesses. For me I’ve gotta stick to one offs and short series of pieces to stay engaged.

  13. He is almost past the point of handmade if he innovates any more. Almost a full on commercial factory already and won’t be any different then the ones you can buy at the store soon

  14. beautiful plates, but the food that gets put on them looks like what someone would come up with if they were told to create something gourmet to feed to a pigeon

  15. Nice to see someone working at, and enjoying what they're good at and care about. Instead of just slaving away because otherwise they'll starve to death under a bridge somewhere.

  16. anyone notice this guy hired 20 women and not a single man? and i guarantee he creeps on them constantly, definitely getting predator vibes from this guy.

  17. Why would you ship pottery from other countries instead of buying it from your local population? It's sadly ignorant and unsustainable. This pottery is also not even totally handmade, which is terrible and non unique.

  18. Congratulations on your LOST ART business. I am a retired 30 year Food Service distribution sales & marketing executive. Selling tableware was a big part of products I sold. Wish many times that there was someone like you to utilize. Great story.

  19. all that bla,bla…about simple plate???in a restaurant i don't care how does'it look the plate or a food itself .what's important to me is the taste!brainwashed people that don't distinguish reality from advertisement.

  20. You cross your legs like a girl. Who wants to buy anything from a guy who acts like a girl? Sit like you got a pair. I would never make a good Leftist.

  21. Pure cheats and these go for high price when there is REAL hand made stuff that gets frowned on. How is this michi,in star quality? No effort in thid whatsoever pure cheaters and plates are crap.

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