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. Damn, I took pottery and ceramics in college because all the hot girls were in it. He took it for the smell of it, bruh.

  2. I think the people who worked here always have relaxed mind, it seems slow but always have a progress, and the process that really you can enjoy

  3. This is not totally hand made its made with the help of machine and shapers if he want to do competition just visit any Indian Village where there are potters actually use hands and their real talent

  4. 7:50 Im super surprised hes just casually touching the glaze, I went to art school(not for pottery specifically) and as he said its a lot of different chemical mixes. I definitely had a small, and admittedly minior, rash or two from glazing my pieces cause of some sort of allergic reaction to some mineral or component in the glaze. I remember being told to try not to get it on your skin too much. Just kinda crazy seeing him go to town in the stuff or spray it on his hand lol

    Edit: also the pieces are fantastic, love the style and colors 😀

  5. id say westerners are so privileged. There i said it! This pottery are so common and cheaply available from where i came from but there, it was treated as if it was made from top of Mount Olympus. Christian Dior Oblique Tote Bag for instant, can cost thousands of dollars while here – same knitted bag hand made by local can only cost u less than 10 dollars.. sometimes, world works so differently at other parts of the world. Made me wonder if our artisan is either underrated..or they simply overrated idk

  6. People like these makes me regret ever going to college.
    It's not an easy job, I know, but if I chose to be a Potter or some sort of an artisan, the time spent finishing a four year degree would have given me skills to earn a stable living.
    It's so nice to see that there are still people who do things by hand despite the technology

  7. not only the chefs but their suppliers too describe their work as if it it is beyond common understanding.
    wonder how theoretical physicist would describe their work.

  8. I was confused, wondering how does he have so much love for that kind of job, but 9:54 …now i get it. All of the work for that moment make sense 🙂

    cool

  9. LMAO!!!! You have no idea how dose it feel when a Chinese ceramic fan watching this video🤣🤣🤣have u ever been China? u ll see a lot of things like this with very very low price. check it out at 10:22, look at that , just look at that, u see nothing ? fine , u deserve using these things your whole life. Don't get me wrong ,feel free to learn others culture, they belong to the whole world, but just don't crown yourself "Master".

  10. Even in Ceramics 4 in High school we couldn't experiment with these types of molds. I would have been banging out bowls and plates. Damn I missed my calling.

  11. This is beautiful work, I would just love to have a set of any of them… one thing though, I would probably change the stamp underneath to something more elegant to fit the overall look.

  12. This is awesome, the pieces are lovely, and I absolutely applaud the shift to handmade objets d'art in restaurants, but I think this is a little much to call mastery. There are true master potters out there who can produce these pieces without a single aid or guide, and to be frank – many forms much more complex than these. Very well done, well run business, and much respect, but not everything needs to be labelled mastery to be enjoyed.

  13. This looks like all fun and games until you are working in a restaurant at dish or buss and have to lug around, move, and organize plates, cups, and saucers that weigh 40 – 60lbs a stack. To hell with this clattering crockery.
    Thanks Youtube, now I know who to blame. =)

  14. Been watching videos on the demise of companies like Wedgwood etc. with all the cheap stuff on the market its great that places like this exist and survive.

  15. We make something you can't find anywhere else LOL
    Don't tell me the ancient Chinese masters can't make this product better and cheaper!

  16. How much did they pay you for this piece, Eater?

    Chefs make plates work, not the other way around. Bowl radius for really specific soupier dishes is the only way this business will work. You can import the same quality, matching wares for less than half. Especially the smaller-plates/ramekins/cups because it's actually common there.

  17. Ok do you pronounce the "n" in "kiln" or not? My ceramics teacher in high school said it as "kill" and made fun of people who pronounced the N.

  18. As an Ex-KP, I can hear the horrible sound of stoneware going in a metal sink and cutlery scratching it… Ugh. Horrible sound.

  19. Just as stuck up as the michelin star restaurants. There is not much handmade about a machine rolled, pressed in to a mold plate.

  20. I love pottery. Took it in highschool and also as an adult. I miss it but have made some things that I actually use today. I really need to find a class again.

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