Emile Henry (ceramic)

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Émile Henry Ltd. is a manufacturer of ceramic ovenware, tableware, and bakeware products.Founded in 1850, and located in Burgundy, France.


1850: founded by Jacques Henry
Pottery Potter, Jacques Henry runs a small workshop in Marcigny, southern Burgundy. The production is varied: jugs, pots, casseroles, dishes, plates… and is manufactured on 2 manual wheels. 2 kilns heated by wood are used for firing.

1882: Paul Henry
Paul Henry takes over after his father, and from 1882 to 1894 he moves to Paris to expand his customer base. 40 people are employed and the kilns are run on coal. Mechanical wheels, run on gas, replace the manual ones. In 1912, steam, a symbol of power and independence, modernizes the production process.

1922: Emile Henry
Emile Henry takes over the company. Born in 1885, he goes to war in 1914. Competition is strong from producers of metal cookware, and this leads to many potteries closing down. The Parisian customers remain faithful, and count for 40% of sales. 50 people are now employed, and the finished products made are left unglazed for horticultural use or glazed for culinary use.

1950: Maurice Henry
When Emile dies in 1950, Maurice Henry finds himself at the head of the company at 32 years old. Production increases from 1100T in 1950 to 3000T in 1965 and 5000T in 1975. Horticultural pottery is stopped in 1980 to concentrate exclusively on glazed pottery for culinary use. Firing changes from coal-run kilns to electricity, then to oil and finally gas. Firing times are reduced from one week to 72 hours, 24 hours, 12 hours, and eventually to 4 hours. The company now employs 200 people. The export market develops in Denmark, Benelux and the United Kingdom, to reach 15% of sales.

1983: Jacques Henry
After having run the company with his father Maurice for 9 years, Jacques Henry sets new objectives:
- develop a stronger product using a unique process: Ceradon
- develop a strong and recognised brand name: Emile Henry
- develop the export market (50% of sales come from more than 50 countries outside of France). The company doubles its production capacity between 1989 and 1992 and builds 2 new factory units in Marcigny, Burgundy.

2002: ISO 9001
Emile Henry is awarded the ISO 9001 international quality standard.

Production Technique[edit]

Step 1: Forming the Clay
The clay is mixed with different finely ground stones and water. This results in a rather liquid clay called slip.

Step 2: Casting
The slip is poured into plaster molds. Each mold corresponds to a shape: oval dish, square dish, oval terrine, pitcher… Part of the water in the slip is absorbed by the plaster so that the clay sets, giving the shape of the dish. Once turned out of the mould, the dish is dried at 50°C for 6 hours.

Step 3: Glazing
Glazing consists of spraying a coloured glaze on the dish. The glaze is made of ground glass and colouring, mixed with some water.

Step 4: Firing
The glazed dish is fired in the kiln for 4 hours at (1150°C). The glaze melts to become a very strong glass, and is completely smooth. When the pieces come out the kiln, they are checked manually, one by one, in order to ensure constant quality.

Properties and usage[edit]

  • Burgundy clay evenly and slowly diffuses cooking heat to the very center of the cooking dish. Food is cooked evenly, which brings out the flavors and aromas. Burgundy clay has superior heat retention properties which keep food hot and more flavorsome when resting aside.
  • All Emile Henry products are direct freezer-to-oven. They go under the broiler and in the microwave.
  • Emile Henry products do not chip or crack easily. One can cut directly on the surface without scratching or damaging the product.
  • The surfaces do not trap and hold baked on or burnt food. Cleaning is remarkably easy. All Emile Henry products can go in the dishwasher.
  • There is no lead or cadmium in Emile Henry products, all of the glazes meet California Prop 65, and all of the products are 100% food safe. The colored glazes do not craze, discolor or fade over time.
  • The FLAME line of casseroles has particular properties allowing direct cooking on all kinds of stove tops (gas, electricity, halogen) and furnaces (traditional and microwaves)

External links[edit]