Nick Moen


The Cheese Board Collaboration: a porcelain tray and cherry board

Nick MoenComment

Designing and Producing a Cheese Serviette

This spring I was grateful to have close friend and colleague Mimi McPartlan visit me in Asheville, North Carolina. We shared a studio in Alfred, New York for a year so naturally I hoped to see if she would act as visiting artist at my studio at Odyssey Clayworks where I am currently a resident artist. I was preparing a body of work as part of collaboration with chef Nathan Allen of Knife & Fork restaurant in Spruce Pine, North Carolina.

After hearing Allen’s vision of what he’d like to plate his meal on, I knew I had to add wood as a material for a serving surface. Allen shared his vision of one of the courses presented as if it had grown out of the service vessel in a natural environment. I started sketching and dimensioning a porcelain vessel to hold a wooden board.

As I thought of what I wanted the final object to look like I couldn’t help but envision the elegant, full and voluptuous curves that McPartlan has conjured again and again in her work. I shared my concept and gave her dimensions to work in and McPartlan poured a block of plaster and got to work finding a beautiful form in the solid plaster block. After a weekend and a dull rasp, McPartlan had shaved the rigid corners of a rectangle into smooth and inviting curves with an interior to set a serving board in.

The next step was to clean up the mold so I could pull a draftable two-part mold with plugs off of the plaster model. Once I started filling the mold with slip I began to learn how the hollow piece that came out wanted to be stored in the drying stage to keep it’s shape. Inevitably I had to clean up the edges and seams to get the piece ready to have a glazed surface on it.

Since the serviettes were destined to make their debut at “cup & plate” at knife & fork dining experience, I started researching all the different white glazes that I thought would fit the form. I landed on a thick white sugary semi matt glaze that sparkled and softened the corners of the final object.

On July 1st, I saw the servers lined up and Allen starting to place large slices of soft fourme d’ambert, with slices of juicy beets with goumi berries and gastrique drizzled around the cheese and beets. The servers came out held carefully with two hands gripped around the bottom to guests awaiting a new culinary experience.

This collaboration was one of a handful that I feel so lucky to have been a part of this spring 2013. Having talented and thoughtful friends is a huge incentive to keep creating. Without combining our skill sets and working together on this project we never would have created such an unique and elegant object to grace peoples homes and become part of their eating experiences.

The cheese serviettes are currently available exclusively at K2 Studios for furniture and interior design in Asheville, North Carolina.

Mimi McPartlan is a ceramic artist and designer from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In May she completed a residency in Germany. She is moving to Philadelphia this fall 2013 where she recently accepted to be an artist in residence at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia. Follow her blog to see what this young and talented artist and designer is up to!