Liquorice by Johan Bülow visited the potter, Julie Bonde in her – very hot – workshop at Nørrebro in Copenhagen.

Julie Bonde in her workshop at Nørrebro in Copenhagen..

Do you know that feeling of disembarking from a chilly aeroplane out onto a tropical runway? That is exactly what it felt like when entering the Uh La La Ceramics premises on a cold spring day in Copenhagen, where two kilns filled with pottery had just been opened. The heat hit you in the face like a wall. During the night the kilns had reached a top temperature of 1250°. They were then gradually cooled down at a certain pace so the glaze-fired porcelain did not explode.  

The proprietor of Uh La La Ceramics is Julie Bonde. She studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design and worked as a product designer for Royal Copenhagen before deciding to go it alone. Now her pottery is sold at Stilleben and in Illums Bolighus in Copenhagen, and in design shops in Stockholm, Vienna, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seoul. 

Flowing porcelain is poured into plaster moulds.

Makes everything by hand
She also supplies plates and bowls to top Danish restaurants such as Relæ and Geranium. Making the hundreds of plates the restaurants will use is a demanding process, because Julie personally makes all her pottery by hand.

“By doing everything myself I have the closest imaginable contact with the production process. This gives me a unique flexibility when it comes to making adjustments and experimenting on the spot. Studio pottery also provides an opportunity to pursue a particularly high aesthetic level in terms of materials, and diversity of shape, glaze and clay. You can cope with the unwieldy and more demanding techniques and materials, which the industry avoids in order to optimise volume,” explains Julie.

The hardened porcelain clings to the surface of the mould.The surplus is poured out.

Lengthy production time
It can take weeks to make plates for a single restaurant: working with handmade ceramics is a time-consuming process. Take, for example, the working process involved in Julie Bonde’s popular bonbonnières:

Day 1
Liquid porcelain is poured into a plaster mould and solidifies as it clings to the surface of the mould. The edges are cut into shape and sponged off.

Day 2
Surfaces and edges are further worked on with a sponge and knife and then dry for a further 24 hours.

Day 3
The pot is fired at a top temperature of 1000° for one and a half days.

Day 4
The jar is glazed inside with a transparent glaze and then dries until the following day.

Day 5
The jar is dipped in a coloured glaze on the outside, edges and bottom, and then dried and stamped before being fired in the kiln.

A glaze firing reaches a temperature of 1250°.

‘Bonbonnière’ means ‘confectionery jar’.
Julie came up with the idea for her bonbonnière design, when seeking to make an attractive gift article that also had a practical purpose. “At the time I was designing it, I was totally in love with elliptical shapes. You can just use it as an elegant object in itself, but you can also use it for storage – for your liquorice, for example!” says Julie, smiling and explaining that ‘bonbonnière’ actually means ‘confectionery jar’ in French.

When there is no confectionery left, it can be used for anything from a jewellery box to a table decoration. Julie even had one customer who wanted to use it for her dishwasher tablets. “That’s pretty extravagant,” she laughs.

When there is no more liquorice left, it can be used, for instance, as a jewellery box.