Tableware and design history
Richard's first ceramic collaborations were inspired when he was working with top chefs creating 'The Star Chefs Cookbook' back in 1997, including one between the chef Gordon Ramsay and Villeroy & Boch Pottery to create an Aubergine design porcelain dress plate
In 1998 whilst creating paintings of Michelin Star chefs, their kitchens and dishes we was invited to bring his food and ingredient paintings to Borough Market which had started a retail market after Henrietta Green held a successful Food Lovers Fair. In the early years the Borough Market retail market took place once a month this interaction between producers, chefs and the public fed and inspired Richard Bramble to developed from his Borough Market Stall this concept on ceramics taking his ingredient studies (Red Mullet, Lobster, John Dory, Crab, Squid, Mackerel, Aubergine, Fennel, Saffron, Wines, Champagnes and more...) that featured in the book as well as new ones and using a summary of the text around the plate rims, he created an ingredient plate design range. Both Villeroy & Boch and Wedgwood potteries considered producing these ranges but due to the specialist nature Richard chose Jersey Pottery to work with to make the ceramics.
Jersey Pottery based in the Channel Islands was established in 1946 and was located in Gorey Village on the east side of the island of Jersey where it had numerous kilns with the ability to manufacture and decorate earthenware plates, bowls and mugs. Richard Bramble’s fish and shellfish designs painted from his fishing and diving experiences in the sea off the Dorset coast in England and islands of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland appealed greatly to islanders and visitors to Jersey too, highly appropriate being an island surrounded by sea with an abundance of the sames species of fish and shellfish. Jersey Pottery being close to France called the specific designs Richard Bramble had licenced to them for decoration on ceramics ‘Fruit de Mer’ the French name for fruits of the sea. Richard Bramble called the range ‘Fish & Shellfish’ to include many fish and shellfish designs not licensed to Jersey Pottery on the British mainland.
The first plates made at Jersey Pottery were ovals in earthware but Richard Bramble had always wanted to create a range on porcelain being harder wearing and ideal for home use, so he developed and refined his original plate designs from the 'Star Chefs Cook Book' days and with Jersey Pottery chose whiteware pieces in fine Limoges porcelain to create a new range on fine porcelain. Over the years the range moved onto fine Bohemia European porcelain, which comes from a pottery just outside Prague well known for its quality of porcelain and glass crystal. The move maintained the quality but kept the items affordable.
In 2010 Jersey Pottery factory closed and the site in Gorey Village was sold off for development with most of their manufacturing out sourced. After a working relationship of over eighteen years due to the changing nature of Jersey Pottery as a company which was not compatible to the way Richard Bramble worked and the licences of his designs that Jersey Pottery used, the licences were not subsequently renewed in 2016. Richard Bramble now personally overseas all manufacturing of his designs maintaining the highest quality on the same fine European porcelain Jersey Pottery was using thus allowing collectors of Richard Bramble ceramics to continue adding to their collection with matching pieces for birthdays, weddings, gift lists, dining rooms and the kitchen.
The collection has expanded with a complementary range of kitchen accessories including tablemats, cutting boards, textiles and greeting with the bone china mugs and jugs decorated in Stoke-on-Trent. Various specific commissions from companies like the cheesemongers Paxton & Whitfield creating the cheese plate range, have helped support development of the collection. Richard Bramble is often commissioned to create special or commemorative pieces too: the Watercress design was commissioned by the British Watercress farmers, a Jersey Royal Potato bowl by Jersey Tourism to commemorate the 125th Anniversary of the Jersey Royal on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands, and an Almonds plate by the Californian Almond Board in the USA.
Making the ceramics
The ceramics need to be fired twice in a kiln. First the white porcelain ceramics are made in a mould, clear glazed and fired in a kiln up to 1350° over 12 hours. The designs which have been silkscreen printed onto transfer paper are placed on the glazed ceramics. They are then fired again up to 810° over 8 hours. This creates an extremely fine hard wearing porcelain ceramic (restaurants use porcelain as it does not chip easily).
The original paintings are first digitally scanned and broken down into individual colour separations, one per screen. Each colour is silkscreen printed on to transfer paper building up the design, and using 8 or more ceramic ink colours/screens (most ceramics use only 4 colours for transfers). Although it is expensive using so many colours and screens, and lots of proofing goes on before the finished sheets are approved for the main print run, the images are as good as the original paintings. These are printed in Europe and then the transfers are cut out from each sheet by hand, soaked in water which separates the transfer from the base sheet and placed on the glazed ceramics. Once fired the colours sink into the glaze making them permanent.