Our cafés recently received a major update to all of our dine-in mugs, saucers and dishware. With a habit of implementing intentional design and local craftsmanship throughout our cafes, we were excited to partner with our friends, Shay and Maura Church, at Grayling Ceramics to help with this change.
For this project, Shay and his team used a method called slip casting. Shay enjoys this method, as it offers a high production value, yet retains a handmade look and feel. Each mug, bowl and plate are beautifully crafted and nearly identical. You’ll notice the bottom of each mug is designed to stack perfectly inside another of its kind. Which is great for our cafés, as we need plenty nearby, ready to be filled with fresh brewed coffee, specialty lattes or loose-leaf teas.
The process begins by making the masters that are used to make plaster molds. Masters can be made in a variety of ways; some of Shay’s masters are hand-turned, wooden sculptures that mirror the finished clay vessel. In the case of our dishware, the masters were made by throwing clay on a pottery wheel to form the final design. Once dried, it’s then used to make the pink silicone mold that is then used to make the final mold of plaster.
Now that Shay has the plaster mold, he uses a custom recipe of clay and water to make a clay slurry called slip. The slip is then poured into the plaster mold and allowed to set for a period of time—just enough for the moisture to be drawn out of the clay so that the proper thickness is achieved. The remaining slip is poured out of the plaster mold, leaving a perfect replica of our dishware.
As soon as the clay has set, it’s removed from the plaster molds. After mugs receive their handles and each clay piece fully dries, they are fired in the kiln for the first time. When the first firing is complete the dishware is ready to be glazed with Shay’s custom set of glazes. Once the glaze dries, they are fired for a second time to transform the glaze into its final color and finish.
From here, most of the dishware is complete. In the case of our 12 oz mug, Shay’s team applies a printed decal of the Water Street Coffee logo. These mugs will be fired for a third time at a lower temperature to fuse the iron in the decal to the glaze.
We hope that you enjoy our new dishware from the Grayling Ceramics team! As a special bonus, we have ordered extra 12 oz Coffee Mugs, which are available for purchase online and in our cafés.