Hi! I’m Lindsay Emery, owner, designer, and maker of Suite One Studio, a modern, handmade tableware line. The current Suite One Studio collection is made exclusively from hand-formed and wheel thrown, high quality porcelain, handmade watercolor glazes, and hand-painted genuine gold. I began working in clay in 2005, and launched Suite One Studio in 2009. Since then the line has changed to reflect trends in home interiors, fashion, my own aesthetic preferences, and perhaps most importantly as a maker of tableware, food. Although the collection has changed gradually over the years, my central desire has remained the same– to make mealtimes more beautiful. Joanna invited me here to Jojotastic to share a behind the scenes peek into my process and the creation of Suite One Studio products. I hope you’ll enjoy!
Each and every product begins the same way, as an unsuspecting ball of clay. The clay is cut from a large block of clay, wedged to remove air bubbles, and weighed to ensure consistency before it is processed as either a flat slab or thrown on the wheel.
All plates, platters, trays, and primarily flat objects are made with the help of a slab roller. This is a 250 LB piece of machinery that operates by a hand-cranked wheel to flatten the clay between two large, steel rollers. Until recently, each flat object was processed by a small, wooden, kitchen rolling pin. You can imagine that the addition of this industrial slab roller makes a HUGE difference in production capabilities for my growing studio.
These freshly made pieces were created from slabs of flattened clay from the slab roller. After flattening, each piece is cut, shaped, and altered by hand to create a uniquely organic, modern form. Once the pieces are cleaned up a bit with a sponge and water, they sit and dry slowly over the course of several weeks until they’re ready to be fired in the kiln.
After drying, the pieces are fired in the kiln for the first time at about 1,945 degrees Fahrenheit. They are now hard and porous like a brick and ready to be glazed and fired again.
Now comes the really fun part– color! Each glaze is formulated right here in my studio. And formulated is the right word because ceramic glazes are made from chemical formulas. Yup, like the stuff from your high-school-chem-test nightmares. There are molecular considerations, periodic elements, and a whole bunch of letters and numbers hiding behind those pretty, glossy surfaces. A lot can go wrong with a glaze formula, so when a glaze turns out as expected (or in some cases better!) it’s cause for some major celebrating! This board of test tiles shows some of my scientific triumphs!
Once a glaze has been decided upon and applied, the piece is fired in the kiln again, this time to 2,280 degrees Fahrenheit. After the glaze firing, liquid gold luster is hand-painted onto each piece, and you guessed it, the piece is fired again. The entire process, start to finish, of creating a single piece of porcelain pottery takes weeks, lots of high temperatures in specialized equipment, an unexpected use of organic chemistry (which was the only class besides gym that I nearly failed in high school, so how’s that for irony), and a whole lot of patience. But in the end, you have a thoughtfully crafted, heirloom quality, handmade item guaranteed to make any meal more beautiful, so it’s all totally worth it.
I hope you enjoyed this look into the work that goes into the production of Suite One Studio porcelain. If you’d like to see more behind the scenes peeks, come follow along on Instagram! A huge thank you to Joanna for having me here to share my passion and process with you all!