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Chipping & Breakage - Hand Thrown Vs. The Machine

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One of my (admittedly many) blind spots as a potter is, understanding how hand thrown and fired stoneware pottery stacks up against the restaurant industry's common white bone china type product in terms of durability and chip resistance.  Considering the 'monkey dish' or soup bowl bought from a restaurant supply outlet as compared to the same product hand thrown of stoneware - which is the stronger, the less apt to chip, and why? And if the mass-produced product is the more durable, how can we as small-scale potters, best approach this level of durability? 

 

I went to a restaurant with a date and she got a chip in the chili served in a white china soup bowl, she bit into it and it hurt her - I was incensed,  and raised a ruckus.  Turns out that upon inspection, most of their white china bowls were chipped, and the staff weren't inspecting or wiping out the bowls before ladling chili into them.  I do not currently sell to restaurants as far as I know, but would like to try to, some day. I work in earthenware porcelain & stoneware but far prefer to work with slightly groggy stoneware. My stoneware does not seem to chip like that restaurant ware though I don't know that there's anything particularly special about it.. 

 

Apologies if this topic has been beaten to death, I don't have much luck searching on CAD & internet info seems contradictory, apart from Corelle being considered quite tough. Thanks for sharing any thoughts on it.  I guess that I have asked about chip resistance before but, not in regard to stoneware. 

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Some restaurants buy white wear that is as tough as nails ... they slam it around without chipping.

Others I suspect have gone the more "cost effective" route and bought look alike cheaper imported wares that chip easily.

Can you not just picture some number cruncher bragging about cost saving while not considering replacement? Or blaming the servers? Or using chipped plates so long no one notices?

 

I would surmise that any restaurant that opens itself to hand made wares will have to re-educate their staff in how to be more careful. The cost would be too high to replace unique wares. Also what do you do if a customer drops a $25 plate?

 

I think a better niche for hand made is the Chargers. Yes, the cute plate they put in your spot and remove when it's time for the real dinner plate.

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I think how the rim on pots is finished is part of the reason handmade pots don't tend to chip. No sharp edges, nice and rounded plus compression when thrown or slab built. It would be interesting to find out if cast pieces from the same claybody as thrown chip more due to the lack of compression on rims. Firing to the clays maturity point will make for a stronger pot than under or overfiring also.

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True Carl, it's 3 layers of bonded glass, so tough they have mailed it with just a stamp and address on the plate & it does fine.  I suppose restaurants don't use it, I haven't been a heavy restaurant goer my life so can't really say.

 

Just wondering where really decent stoneware fits in the spectrum of table ware overall.  Plastic melamine stuff is tough but I'm thinking more upscale than that at least.  

 

 

I had some pieces in a consignment shop. The shop was in a bad location and pottery was not moving so I picked them up yesterday.  Among the pieces were three identical brown stoneware monkey dishes.  After a few pops I decided that I would sacrifice them in order to learn how tough they were.  I smashed the rims against each other roughly a dozen times, 2 against 1, then threw the three in a handful across the floor several times.  I then inspected them and saw not a chip or crack, though there was some smearing from the floor on one, which wiped off.  I then threw them across the floor again, and one hit a metal edge strip on the floor, and broke.  The others were unharmed, with no chips. The piece that broke, didn't really chip, it smashed and broke apart, no longer a dish, now unusable.  They were glazed on the interior covering the lip, unglazed exterior, maybe a bit thinner or the same as a mass produced monkey dish.  I thought it interesting that though the one piece eventually broke completely, it didn't seem to chip.  They seemed pretty tough, though it is a tough shape to start with, a small bowl like a monkey dish.

 

A lot of restaurants have carpet to minimize breakage.  I don't think that a stoneware bowl could be easily broken falling from table to carpeted floor if it didn't hit something else but, haven't tested enough.  I know it really depends on process perfection, glaze fit, strength of body, wedging maybe, type of glaze, within stoneware as a type. The pressure of constant usage in a restaurant is considerable.  I worked at Vanelli's on Pier 39 for a few years & I remember we needed more glassware but never got to the point of actually buying it. It was mostly long stemmed glassware that got broken and everyone was careful with the white ceramic dishes..

 

Hearing what you're saying Chris, that is a neat idea, the chargers.  Whoops missed Min's post yeah I imagine platelets lined up nicely and compressed form the best rims compared to slip cast, I haven't done much slip casting. I like thin rims as it happens but not too thin, thicker than the walls.

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Depends on the restuarant, a friend is commissioned by a restuarant for dinnerware, and is recommissioned when there is a significant menu change/ refurbish. It does not seat hundreds! But does have a lot of courses.

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If you're looking at the strength of ceramic dinnerware, glaze strength is just as important as body strength. Apart from normal eroding and permeability concerns, the fit of the glaze influences how breaks or chips will occur in the wares. A glaze that crazes will be more likely to chip, as opposed to a more durable although more extravagant break in a glaze/body combo with a better fit.

 

Also, apply that same stigma to Corelle Ware that you hold for melamine.

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Strong restaurant ware is ugly. You may not be able to achieve the restaurant ware durability, but it sounds like your ware is pretty tough, and probably looks way better.

 

You might try some functional ware clay with mullite. That might help with restaurants that serve on a hot plate.

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sorry to be really stupid, what is a monkey dish?  i make bowls for dogs and cats but not a dish or bowl for a monkey.

a monkey dish is a small "side dish" or small bowl that goes with a plate set -- like what people separate their coleslaw or dip in, so it doesn't contaminate other food on plate.  term came from "brass monkey" which was a bowl-like thing that cannon balls were stored on.

 

 

in terms of how things chip/break -- you gotta remember that most commercially made dinnerware is ram pressed ceramics, not hand-made...so there is a difference in how it was constructed, which plays a lot into how the object will break.

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Strong restaurant ware is ugly. You may not be able to achieve the restaurant ware durability, but it sounds like your ware is pretty tough, and probably looks way better.

 

You might try some functional ware clay with mullite. That might help with restaurants that serve on a hot plate.

That's not necessarily true that strong restaurant ware is ugly ... and not fair to the potters who work on the design end of our business!

 

I have seen the ubiquitous white ware get slammed and jammed into bussing trays ... No damage.

Their forms are totally designed for durability, storage, dishwasher racks, hot water, hot lamps, clumsy staff and ease of use.

Look close and you will not see crazing or blisters.

Good restaurant wares are well made pieces of functional pottery.

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a monkey dish is a small "side dish" or small bowl that goes with a plate set -- like what people separate their coleslaw or dip in, so it doesn't contaminate other food on plate.  term came from "brass monkey" which was a bowl-like thing that cannon balls were stored on.

That's interesting etymology, considering that there was actually no such thing as a "brass monkey" in regards to cannonballs... that's a bit of folk etymology to explain the phrase "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey." (The phrase most likely derives from literal souvenir monkeys made of brass.)

 

Interestingly, nothing I've ready about it indicates that a brass monkey in this context was supposedly a kind of bowl. And if it was, it certainly wouldn't be so small as to hold a single cannon ball. But certainly, when I do a Google image search for "monkey dish", the first set of results is almost exclusively condiment dishes, etc. I've never heard the phrase, but it's apparently well known in some circles.

 

So your etymology is a derivation from a folk etymology that was incorrect and references an imaginary thing. :)

 

Alas, I can find about six different origin stories for the term "monkey dish"... small enough for a monkey, the dish used to feed a portion to a monkey to test for poison, looks like the hat a hurdy-gurdy man's monkey wears, and so on.

 

Evolution of language is so funny.

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so you are right carl.  so all the things i hear and see today would have been wrong answers on any test in English class in high school.  so all sentences now begin with "so" and coffee is now made with coffee grounds.  which is what my mother threw away after the coffee was made.  and homonyms are unknown.  any word is substituted if it is easier to spell. why should there be to, too and two?  a single to seems to cover everything, your is ok for you're.  and not capitalizing is ok.  it is hard to keep up.

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Old Lady: to, too, two, 2! funny. Why use words at all when graphics will do .

 

I have some experience with this, as I was asked to design a specific cup for a cafe where I sell some on consignment. I choose to use stoneware (although they didn't care and just needed the up to be a certain dimension). Breakage comes at several points, and it's not about the cup itself.

 

Most problems arise when the customer self-busses their table, as the hodgepodge of unstable layers in the tub is a war between big plates and little cups. Next the dish washer has greasy hands as they unfold the tub mess and separate everything for washing. For the cups, they go up into a segregated rack, which spares some trauma. Restocking clean out front, not too bad, but the hurried barista sometimes is moving too fast and knocks the stack or drops it inattentively. From warm drink to counter to customer pick up--not so bad, and off the table to the wooden floor has never happened.

 

Here's the oddity: thinner cups are less often broken. I think their perceived fragility helps people be aware of handling, whereas the thicker commercial stuff seems like it can withstand more abuse. In this scenario, it is an obvious difference between my handmade cups and the stockware, and people seem to value the rock-solid functionality of the lip, handle, pour... Etc. I wonder whether a thicker aesthetic on my part would lead to more breakage, but since it's not my style we'll never know.

 

(As for carpets, they are a bonafied health hazard, whether in a home or cafe. The stuff that lives under there is appalling, and restaurants with carpet never clean the underside. Ick. I don't care if the cup would bounce or not.)

 

In the end, they have broken 1/9 over the four months of this experiment, and the rest sail through the risks. (The one broken was a busy barista.) Other similarly used mugs have broken in the other scenarios, but not mine.

 

May not help you in your quest, but information nonetheless.

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Returning to the topic - I supplied a local cafe with a dozen mugs earlier in the year. They were used regularly along with their regular white restaurant ware and cheap generic donor coffee mugs, and everything was washed and handled in the same manner. My stoneware mugs did not fare well. All but 3 chipped from the rough handling of the kid that did their dishes, and they had to pull them from rotation completely. They said they lose plenty of donor mugs due to breakage, but the handmade stuff was even more casualty-prone.

So that's that. I just sell the mugs themselves at the cafe now.

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Returning to the topic - I supplied a local cafe with a dozen mugs earlier in the year. They were used regularly along with their regular white restaurant ware and cheap generic donor coffee mugs, and everything was washed and handled in the same manner. My stoneware mugs did not fare well. All but 3 chipped from the rough handling of the kid that did their dishes, and they had to pull them from rotation completely. They said they lose plenty of donor mugs due to breakage, but the handmade stuff was even more casualty-prone.

So that's that. I just sell the mugs themselves at the cafe now.

My experience is stoneware chips much easier than porcelain.

My wares used in cafe  quite a ways back held up well but they where porcelain high fire pots and not thrown as this as I could. 

for daily wares make them a tad thicker.

Mark

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