virginia sin

by Grace Bonney

for the past few years, artists working in brooklyn seem to have had a particular fascination with creating more permanent, decorative versions of everyday throw-away containers. my first encounter with this style was lorena barrezueta’s gourmet dishware collection in 2004 and it seems the trend is continuing well in 2008 with this new collection from designer virginia sin. based in brooklyn, virginia recently launched her collection of porcelain “paper plates“. to create her series, virginia shredded actual paper plates, (which were previously used to mold the plates) and then combined the paper pulp with porcelain slip to create her own unique batch of environmentally sound paperclay (which requires only one firing, as opposed to several with traditional clay). the porcelain paper plates have such a wonderful delicate feel to them and, according to virginia, are actually as light and thin as actual paper plates. virginia’s microwave and dishwasher safe plates will be shown at design within reach on april 24th as part of their ‘modern+design+function’ exhibition next month. click here for more information.

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  • I’ve known Virginia for some time now… She’s both a phenomenal designer and a wonderful friend. She’s also very humble – which in our profession (and city) is an extremely rare trait. Congrats V!

  • adding paper to clay does not change firing needs, pretty much all clay can be once fired if you know what you are doing. in addition, the paper when burnt out leaves millions of tiny little holes in the porcelain where bacteria can grow and causes the finished product to be far more fragile than it would be without the paper.

  • I was lucky enough to be there to witness Virgina’s paper plate creation. Her out of box thinking and never ending quest for the next eccentric design never seize to amaze me. For all of you out there, look into the stores around you to purchase your own sets of paper plates by Sin~

  • These are incredible! I do love taking something that is considered throw-away and turning it into something delicate and cherished.

  • I am in awe – what a fantastic materials study! And they are dishwasher/microwave safe…who knew!

    Although, I wonder what the best way is to store these if one buys a set – they are not uniform (part of the charm) and look delicate – do they stack alright in the cupboard? Or would they chip from the friction?

  • this is something I would love to have at home! it’s so simple and chic. I just love it!

  • These plates are very refreshing not only as a tool for eating but as a one-of-a-kind object…well done.

  • fantastic. beautiful and delicate. they have a wonderful play between the handmade and manufactured. i can’t wait to find them in a store!!!

  • This is really NOT very good for my white ceramics fetish!!! Oh Citibank is really gonna be happy with you, Grace. At the rate you’re tempting me you should be gettin’ a lil’ percentage!

  • Hi Grace,

    I think the design IDEA is wonderful and funky, but what Abigail said is true. So what to do? You COULD use a mild bleach solution in your dishwater every time they’re washed (let them soak awhile, too). This will also slowly (over the years) eat away at the clay, which will add to their fragility. There’s the tradeoff.


  • Hi All,
    Thanks so much for all of your comments!! I wanted to respond in regards to Abgail’s comment. I dont know of any bacteria that can still live at such a high fire. These plates are 1/8″ thick. Any porcelain at that weight and thickness is generally handled with some care. However, to compensate for any minor loss of structure from the burnt off paper fibers, all my plates are glazed on both sides, which increases their durability significiantly. I’ve been test-using them myself for months now. I eat off of them and treat them like everyday dish-ware. They are always stacked high in my pantry and I have yet to find a chip. To be fair, I must say it will always be a challenge to create something super durable at 1/8″. Afterall, they were intended to look precious and delicate to an extent. Adding actual paper plates back into the end product was one of the reasons I had to enhance my design concept. Thanks Ronn for appreciating and acknowledging that aspect!
    Peace and love,
    Virginia Sin

  • I can actually say I’ve never wanted to go out and buy plates, or cups or anything like that!

    Now how do I buy??????

  • SOOOOO clever! Why didn’t I think of that??? They remind me a tiny bit of Eva Zeisel’s (sp?) work.


  • Re: Abigail’s comment and Virginia’s response– yes, paper clay does leave lots of tiny airspaces within the clay body, but I believe that since the glaze creates a solid membrane (essentially a glass) over the surfaces, the growth of bacteria on the ware over time/ usage is not an issue. Nice concept and execution by the way!

  • I think the concept is great, dealing with the idea of permanence/impermanence and mixing high and low — throwaway paper plates cast into the fragility of fine china.

    The plates look amazing, you’re awesome!

  • Please let us know when and where these are available to buy as soon as you know, I don’t care how durable they are coz mine’s going straight up on the wall! Nice one V x

  • when is this plate coming out? ive been waiting!! i can’t wait for me to get these my on shelf. it brings such uniqueness to my everyday life.