A Look at the Making of Original BTC’s Hand-Cast, Bone China Fin Pendant

09.12.17 | By
A Look at the Making of Original BTC’s Hand-Cast, Bone China Fin Pendant

Not long ago, UK-based Original BTC made their North American debut when they opened a showroom in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, as well as showing at this year’s ICFF for the first time. The brand’s founder, Peter Bowles, has long been intrigued by the manufacturing history of Stoke-on-Trent, as it’s the center of the British ceramics industry. That led him to create a series of bone china lights that were handcrafted by the area’s master artisans. Their skilled expertise was pivotal in the development of the Fin Pendant, which is a hand-cast bone china fixture that comes as a single pendant or in various groupings. For this month’s Deconstruction, Original BTC takes us through the delicate process of how these beautiful fixtures are made.

With the Fin Pendant, we set out to create a design that utilizes our expertise working with Bone China.

Like all good designs, the initial process begins by putting pen to paper.

A lot of calculations have to be done to make sure the shade comes out from the mould in one piece and will not collapse or distort during firing.

The design is a culmination of more than 25 years of working with this material. The elegant Bone China combined with our technical abilities creates a unique form that offers a wonderful play of light when illuminated, and is also attractive when unlit.

The highly skilled, labour-intensive process begins with raw clay being mixed into the bone china slip. Here, Andy is gently filling the mould with the slip which will in time take the shape for the shade.

Crafted in our Bone China factory in Stoke-on-Trent, the heart of the UK ceramics industry, the design features a natural, organic form that is created from an intricate ten piece segmented mould.

Once the slip has been left to harden from the outside in for a specific time, the excess slip is poured out, leaving the Fin shade at its earliest stage.

The clay is mixed with water to create slip, then poured into moulds. Once set, the moulds are split and the shade, base or ceiling rose is removed and left overnight to dry.

Each segment of the mould has now been carefully removed, the shade now can be seen for the first time but is very fragile.

The product is then smoothed with sponges to remove any lines or imperfections. Afterwards, it gets biscuit fired and brushed once again.

Once left to dry for 24 hours the shade can now start to be worked on, here the shade is being sponged and fettled to remove any mould marks and to smooth off any rough edges before going into the kiln for the first firing at 1200 degrees.

Finally, they are dipped in glaze and then gloss fired for a natural white finish.

The same attention to design and detail is given to the ceiling canopy, we like to think about all aspects of the product when designing it, the ceiling rose is a small part but very noticeable.

Ultimately, the Fin pendant makes for a stunning focal point in living rooms, hallways, dining rooms, and more. It’s is now offered in a series of eye-catching groupings – illuminating any setting in a series of three, five, or seven.

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.