Part of a new line of dinnerware designed exclusively by us, this hand-thrown porcelain butter dish is a lidded vessel in a traditional design, meant to be filled with water to keep butter at room temperature. Butter cavity is 2.5" in diameter x 2" deep. (
The Kaufmann Butter Dish is made of fine porcelain clay and finished with a clear glaze that allows the natural white color to shine through. Each is hand-thrown by expert ceramicists working in a small, eight-person studio in Oregon. Made in a traditional design, the dish holds the butter at the center, while the outer cavity is meant to be filled with water, allowing your butter to be kept out on the counter without spoiling. Left at room temperature, it stays at the perfect consistency to spread across toast or pat into baked goods.
To make each butter dish, a ceramicist weighs out roughly three pounds of clay, then splits it into two sections, one for the lid and another for the base. The clay is then kneaded until all the fine particles point in the same direction, making the material easier to manipulate. Each segment of clay is then thrown onto a potter’s wheel and shaped by hand. The delicate rims and edges are tuned with shaping tools. “A lot of making these dishes is muscle memory,” says the ceramicist. “Porcelain is finicky and requires skill to hand-throw. Your body starts to understand how the piece will form over time.”
Once formed, the butter dish base and lid are moved into a sauna-like room where the air is kept moist so the dish can dry slowly and evenly. There’s a small window of time to remove the piece, when it is not so soft that it will warp or so hard that it will crack. Experienced potters have a keen sense of when to transfer their ceramics to the kiln. The exact amount of time that a dish spends drying is dependent upon the local weather conditions, taking only eight hours in the humid summer and up to five days during a cold, dry winter. “There’s no physical way to rush the process,” the ceramicist explains. “Each piece must be bone dry, or the porcelain can shrink too fast and create an explosion in the kiln.”
Next, the dishes are placed in the kiln and bisque-fired at 1,940 degrees Farenheit for 11 hours, and slowly dried for almost 20 more. Once removed, the glazing process begins. Each piece is sanded to remove any marks from the ceramicist’s sponge, then carefully wiped down, as dust trapped under the glaze could create surface discrepancies. The butter dishes are dipped in a clear glaze that protects the porcelain while letting its natural white color show. They go back into the kiln for a second firing, this time for nine hours at 2,167 degrees. A long cooling period prevents them from cracking. “It’s an old way of making work,” notes the ceramicist. "Creating a lidded vessel is often seen as the pinnacle of technique for potters, it's one of the most difficult pieces to hand-throw."
While this porcelain butter dish can be cleaned in the dishwasher, we recommend hand washing to extend the life of the dish. Do not place the dish over an open flame or expose it to sudden changes in temperature.
Please note that variance among dishes and within the glaze is normal; it is part of the beauty of the product. Each one is slightly different, giving character, texture and life to the organic form. That said, the size will be within a quarter inch of the original measurements.
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