Dinner, salad, and bread plates

We finished a commissioned order of dinnerware which included 16 dinner plates, 12 salad plates, 12 bread plates, 12 cereal bowls, and 12 chili bowls.  So I wanted to review some things that we learned while making the dinnerware order.

A successful set is uniform, stack wells, and relates to the other pieces in the series.

In order to make uniform pieces, we developed a ‘recipe’ for each piece by identifying the critical measurements in each of the pots.

Prepping and weighing clay

For example – dinner plate:

  • 5.5 lbs of clay
  • Open to 10 inches wide
  • Pull rim to 2 inches
  • Round the rim with chamois
  • Final plate height is 2 inches
  • Trim external foot width to 7”
  • Dry plates slowly with bats/boards to keep the rims from popping up

For the bowls, we measured the clay, opened to an established diameter (inner diameter), pulled to maximum height, opened to final width (outer diameter), and trimmed to a specific foot width.

Dinnerware - Spring Snow Collection

We kept the recipes in the studio notebook.   Initially, we used the calipers to determine the critical measurements.  But after firing, we ‘tweaked’ the recipes.

Starting with the same amount of clay and monitoring the critical measurements helped ensure uniformity.  Julie made a throwing gauge that really sped up production.

The commission was for 12-16 pieces in each set, which proved to be the real challenge (once upon a time, making a set of 4 seemed challenging!).  In addition to all our measurements, we made extra pieces of each pot so we could assemble the best matched set.  Nonetheless, there were still variations – after all, the sets were handmade.  We did a survey of the dishware in our kitchens and realized that manufactured dishes have variations too.  Julie and I defined acceptable levels of variation for our sets.  And, I think we were successful because the dinnerware is uniform, stacks well, and makes sense together.