Behind the Design: Our Cambria Collection

Behind the Design, Behind the Scenes | | | 37 Replies

Each piece of our Cambria Dinnerware, from the tiny Tidbit Plates to the spacious Serve Bowls, starts out as a simple slab of clay in a Portugal factory.  Skilled employees — many who have worked in ceramics for all of their lives — take each piece of clay through a painstaking process to produce our beautiful line of dinner and serveware.

cambria ocean

Although much of the work is done with the aid of machines, each step also requires work to be done by hand. Cleaning the clay, applying patina and finalizing the shape by hand makes each and every piece of Cambria a unique piece of art. Take a look at the amazing process, from start to finish, below.

Cambria black&white (17)

First, large pieces of clay are cut to size for the press machine. Each piece of clay is sized to the type of dish it will create.

Cambria black&white (2)

The slabs are then placed on a press machine. Specialists carefully monitor the process to make sure the pieces are molded accurately and without defect.

Cambria black&white (14)

Cambria black&white (48)

Once the clay is molded and pressed, extra clay is cut off, and the shape is fine tuned with a roller machine.

Cambria black&white (96)

Here, one of the Portugal factory’s many skilled workers finishes a shaped piece with a wet sponge to clean the edges.

Cambria black&white (152)

Then, the pieces are left to dry on racks.

Cambria black&white (118)

Once dry, patina is applied with a brush by hand to give each piece visual texture and depth.

Cambria black&white (138)

The Cambria pieces are then glazed with a machine for cohesive, continuous color and cooked in a kiln.

Cambria colour (155)

Here’s a shot of the colorfully glazed complete product. The meticulous process makes each piece just a little bit different — a true piece of art.


Every piece of Cambria is carefully inspected before its labeled, packed and shipped off to your home.

See more Behind the Design posts. 

37 thoughts on “Behind the Design: Our Cambria Collection

  1. Grace

    I bought the mint and torquoise dinner sets my concern is that pottery barns seems to retire the colors quickly and I feel that replacing a chipped or broken one will be impossible.

  2. Diane K.

    I bought 2 sets of the beige color Cambria dinnerware at Christmas. Family bought us the large serving bowl and the larger platter. I love…love this dinnerware. It is so beautiful. Wish there were dessert plates!!!

  3. Susan Hoggard

    I’d like to know if anyone has had trouble with these dishes in any way. Example: Do they tend to get scratched and marked up from using a steak knife on them? Do they chip easily making them not practical for daily use?

    1. Cathy Halainen

      I’d like to know if anyone has had trouble with these dishes in any way. Example: Do they tend to get scratched and marked up from using a steak knife on them? Do they chip easily making them not practical for daily use?

      1. Ashley

        We have been using these dishes for 2 years now and have only had one mug chip (and that was after accidentally slamming it into the granite counter top). Maybe a little bit of scratching? But to be honest I would have to be looking for it. Overall, these dishes have held up wonderfully!!

      2. Sandy

        We bought the white Cabria (white) dishes a few months ago. We had several plates that showed small scratches. The scratches show up as small grey lines- you don’t feel any scratch to the plate We never use any kind of a sharp knife– actually bought Pottery Barn flatware set with the dishes. For example scratches show up from cutting a peanut butter sandwich in half. Store returned the plates that show the marks– and now we have several more. We will likely have to return the entire set. Not sure if we got a bad batch or if that is a flaw in the dishes.

  4. Anonymous

    These dishes look great; however, I opted against them because of the size if the dinner plates (12″). They would not fit in the cabinets. I wish they had been available in a standard size.

    1. Debra

      I use these dishes every day. I have not had a problem. The 12″ diameter is a problem, but I got creative and store them standing up. Also, as for the desert plates, I enjoy collecting different desert plates in lots of four and using them with my Cambria dishes. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them to a fault.

  5. Lauralee

    This is officially my favorite set of dishes to date! We have the white dinner ware set ( stone color) and a few of the mushroom colored pieces to complement each other. We have had no problems so far with scratching or anything ( we use them everyday). My husband actually chopped a corn on the cob in half with a butcher knife on the diner plate and I thought it was ruined afterwards but not even a scratch showed up ( I would not recommend doing it though). I absolutely love this set and the unique hand made look they have. As for the complaints of it being a size 12… no it did not fit in my regular cabinets but it does fit in another one we have. Most side boards and hutches accommodate that size also ( they are worth investing in a side board to store in!) They have many different pieces to choose from from also…we really like the Coupe Soup Bowls and the small tidbit plates for desert style serving. They also have the adorable little mini serve small footed bowls that would be perfect for that. To see the whole collection just type in Cambria in their search bar at Pottery Barn. They even have a pet collection. I sure hope PB keeps these around for a long time!

  6. Beth

    What are the dimensions & capacity of the Cambria coupe soup bowls? There are written dimensions on the regular soup bowls, but not the coupe.

  7. Luisa ALvarez

    Is this open stock, can I mix and match different colors? Also, want to make sure they are safe and do not contain lead or others harmful chemicals.

    Thank you

  8. Tina

    I’m really disappointed with the 12″ dinner plate. I thought my old kitchen cabinets were just not deep enough for these dishes but they don’t fit in my new kitchen either. And to top it off, they don’t fit in my dishwasher so I have to hand wash them. Why would PB sell dishes that don’t fit in cabinets and dishwashers? The two colors I bought are also not available any more. I expected better from PB.

    1. Susan Hoggard

      The dishes did not fit in my dishwasher either not to mention the cabinet. I wanted them for every day so I can not keep the dishes. They were so pretty. I wish I could make them work.

  9. Elizabeth

    I love these dishes but before I put them on our wedding registry I was hoping someone would know if they wil be discontinued anytime soon!!??? Didn’t want to get plates I couldn’t replace in a year! Thanks!

      1. Dulce

        Great to hear! I just bought 3 of the 4 piece settings last week, along with the footed serve bowl, oval serve bowl and rectangular platter – all in stone. I also plan to add a few more serving dishes in the mushroom color!

  10. Linda Daniels

    I have a question on Cambria dinnerware. The description lists a soup bowl and a cereal bowl. The bowls available to be ordered are a soup bowl and a coupe soup bowl. In looking at the pictures, there is a third bowl shown, but I don’t see it available to purchase. Is it the cereal bowl? How do I purchase it if it isn’t listed?

    1. Sara

      I have the same question about the third Cambria bowl! Is there another bowl option available in the set as shown on the PB website and how can we purchase them?

    1. Marty

      I have used Pottery Barn dishes for about 12 years: had the white Emma, then purchased the yellow Emma, and now the stone Cambria. The only pieces that chipped in all that time were the bowls. (cereal shape which I prefer to the coupe) I think that particular shape is rather difficult to load in the dishwasher so I am going to be extra careful with the new Cambria set. I have loved Pottery Barn dishes for their durability and use them daily. Reports from friends about sets from other popular stores have proven that the choice of PB has been the wisest one.

    1. Manxmama

      I ordered the turquoise and ocean coupe bowls to add some color to my white Portugese dinnerware. They are beautiful, but more muted than the catalog or internet depicted. The turquoise seems to be muted with a bit of grey. The ocean is gorgeous, also muted, I thought it would be closer to a cobalt blue.

  11. Jeni

    I would like to know if these dishes get hot in the microwave? I am searching for something that will not burn my family’s hands when it’s used to heat up leftovers for a reasonable period of time.

  12. karin glass

    I both the mug and filled it with water. I placed it in the microwave for 3 min and the handle was hardly warm. It passed the test as far as I was concerned.

    1. Elizabeth

      Reading about the dishwasher and cabinet issues others are having with the 12″ dinner plates….I’m thinking of just purchasing the salad plates and use those as dinner plates as they are just about right at 9.5″. They also sell bread plates that are 7″ that I’ll use for salad and the tidbit plates for bread. Had to get creative and downsize the entire set, but I think it will work. Aren’t we supposed to be eating off of smaller plates anyway? :)

  13. Nadia

    I bought eight sets almost two years ago. They are beautiful! However, I have not been that lucky I think. During this time, two bowls, two salad plates and one cup have scratches. Another salad plate broke apart. And the handle of one cup is broken


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