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. Art, heart and dedication. Creates a beautiful, and lasting utilitarian expression of the food industry just to fall into the hands of some clumsy dishwasher or busboy and shatter.

  2. 5 years und you'll still be there right? Countdown running, in 5 years this will be on Youtube's Recommended again, then I'll check if you still exist or automation took your jobs.

  3. The design reminds me of my dads first set of dishes, even in design, but his is 40 years old if not more. its nice when you can put your dishes in the oven

  4. I hate this guy. He's like a personality cult leader who happens to be running the most inefficient manufactury ever. All in the name of art? or whatever this guy tells himself so he can sleep at night. I would feel bad for his employees except that they likely feel incredibly proud and grateful to work for such a successful genius as himself.

  5. I loved ceramics in high school. Loved ceramics in college. Was told that I shouldn't get into it professionally but watching this.. it just makes me wish I was in this industry. I want to be sitting there making all of that.

  6. it's really cool seeing the guy who makes these plates! now i feel bad when the servers at the restaurant i dishwash at throw these plates around like they're made of rubber

  7. A famous Japanese potter was in a gallery in New York back in the 80s demonstrating his skill and selling his wares during a rare appearance outside of Japan. When one of the select invited guest commissioned an urn during the show. As he deftly completed the piece the artisan was asked by the patron, "You made that in 5 minutes, how is that worth $500.00 hundred dollars?"
    To which the artist replied, "It took 5 minutes to make, but a lifetime to learn."

  8. I'd be surprised if he isn't looking at scanning his blade library and saving it digitally. All could be re-created using 3d printing if any were damaged.

  9. problem is that that stuff is available only in first world countries due to cost. i live in greece and my father had a pottery workshop that provided our pottery all over the world. now with the economic crisis pottery became too expensive for people and shops here. even tourist shops in greek islands prefer to buy 1 euro plates from china that are absolutely crap and dont prefer a handmade – handpainted plate , a work of art , beacuse that plate can cost up to 15 euros to be made. and one thing that my father told be about his passion is that in pottery 1+1 never equals 2. you can make a plate today and repeat the tha same way tomorrow and the result will sometimes be different. a wonderfull art and what a great way to make a living of! good job on your work, pretty good stuff. we made the same quality stuff back then. search for Achaia Handicrafts Hatziyannis to see what great stuff we made in our workshop

  10. I would be interested to know which "star restaurant" uses ceramic plates? Here in Europe, a star restaurant uses porcelain/china of course, and at home I wouldn´t uses anything but fine china from the Nymphenburg manufactory, Munich.

  11. Really nice film about really nice looking pottery. I just doubt it'd be pleasant to drink from a cup that's rough on the outside. But it looks nice.

  12. how the f*c* did I go from the "Ayo we got a burger, with cheese on it" tik tok video immediately to this video about a michelin-starred restaurant

  13. OMG….THIS was SO informative…..something I hadn't given much thought to. Thank-you SO much for showing us the depth of the process to make these exquisite pieces.
    I'm just blown away.
    Your techniques for 'simplifying' multiple uniform multiple pieces are pure genius.

    I love it when I learn the degree of complicated issues behind things we completely take for granted.
    Totally enjoyed this video.

  14. It looks like a typical manofactorum, pre-modern industrial style. I kind of expected a bit different video. This is okay too.
    Kind of nice to watch.

  15. Beautiful video, no doubt about it, but I'm also shocked at the inequality found on the different corners. Here in India, this is looked down upon and you get beautiful good quality ceramic/clay coffee mugs for less than 300 rupees (about 6 dollars). Hope people someday will value handmade hardwork more than mass produced Chinese imports.

  16. I'd love to have some of these in my kitchen, but it's probably one of those "if you have to ask you can't afford it" deals. If I'm wrong, by all means let me know.

  17. This is amazing to watch! I remember making a clay bowl at school many years ago and the desire to get into clay work has always been there since. One day I hope to start doing pottery

  18. It would be nice to mechanize the production of earthware products in such a way that you could change the process to instantly reflect design changes and so the automated process introduced minor variations to imitate handcrafted products.
    Handcrafted products typically look nicer but if they are actually handcrafted their price makes them inaccessible to most people.

  19. I took pottery learned from some of the best potters in Alberta. really cool need to get it going again… I love clay…. Beautiful stuff dude

  20. Got to say the plates make the foods look better – DO NOT make them taste better…. Why pay for top $ when you can spend much less…. unless you have the $ to throw around….Michelin stars restaurant charge top $ for their meals…they cannot charge cheap …because that makes their foods cheap …so they spend top $ for ceramics to make eaters ….feel that their foods worth that much

  21. Beautiful product, great vid.  (But haute cuisine not for me, nothing to beat a nice big plate of FOOD which I can enjoy chomping down.)

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