How Traditional Korean Tableware Is Made for Michelin-Starred Restaurants
Kwangjuyo makes traditional Korean ceramic dishes, bowls, and cups for restaurants like The French Laundry and Jungsik
by Terri Ciccone and Eater Video
Kwangjuyo is a ceramics company known for making 3,000 varieties of Korean ceramic cups, bowls, and plates, using traditional hand-made methods that are uncommon today. The company’s approach, which includes shaping the pieces from clay, carving floral designs, and custom glazing, all stem from Korean tradition.
First, the clay is mixed to reduce air bubbles. It then heads to the wheel, where it will be shaped into varying dishes. Once the basic shape is formed, it’s put in a heated area and is dried for two hours before the final touches are added to the shape. Next, hand-carved designs are etched into the clay using traditional methods called Sanggam and Bakji. These techniques are uncommon in modern times, since their processes are too delicate and complicated for machines to automate. The pieces are then moved to a kiln set at 900 degrees for seven hours.
Next, glazes are mixed, requiring a number of powders, sands, and clays. The materials are ground for six to 12 hours before pieces are individually hand-dipped in the finished liquid. They then make their way to the kiln for a second firing at about 1,300 degrees for 12 hours.
The pieces go through a final inspection, and are then shipped to people’s homes and restaurants. Many of Kwangjuyo’s tableware pieces have made their way to Michelin-starred restaurants like The French Laundry in California’s Napa Valley and Jungsik in New York City.