Hi, my name is Minh Lê.
First and foremost, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for taking your time to get to know more about us. Your support and curiosity mean the world to us.
I'm a ceramicist from the renowned Bát Tràng pottery village in Hanoi, Vietnam. Just like the clay that has flowed through the fingers of generations of my family, my deep-seated love for pottery has formed an integral part of my identity.
From a young age, the resounding echo of pottery wheels, the rhythmic dance of the artisans shaping the clay, and the mesmerizing transformation of raw earth into art, enchanted me. These vivid memories instilled in me a sense of purpose and dedication to my craft.
Together with my brother, Duke, who manages the business side of things, and my wife, who's my rock and a constant source of inspiration, we established Minh Le Studio. Our shared vision is to bring the traditional craft of Bát Tràng pottery to the world stage, to share the immense beauty and rich history of Vietnamese ceramics, while imbuing it with a modern touch. We create not only functional pottery items but also art pieces that narrate our story, bringing the centuries-old craft to life in every product.
Thăng Long Bong
Whether you're looking for a functional piece of pottery for everyday use or an artful object to enrich your collection, you're welcomed to explore and join us on this journey of craftsmanship.
A quick talk about myself, my hometown, my mission and my vision
More about us
My country and my village
Vietnam, a nation steeped in rich history and vibrant culture, is home to me. Situated in the easternmost region of the Indochinese Peninsula, this beautiful country is adorned with breathtaking landscapes and an abundance of natural resources, making it a paradise for artisans who draw their inspiration from nature.
Jar made in Bat Trang from the 14th century (Source: Viet Nam Museum of History)
One of the most illustrious artisanal hubs in Vietnam is my village, Bát Tràng. This age-old pottery village is located near the Red River bank in Gia Lâm district, Hanoi. A trip to Bát Tràng, irrespective of the countless times one might have taken it, never ceases to marvel with its picturesque landscape dotted with kilns and bustling with the rhythm of potters at work
Bat Trang candle stand from the 16th century (Source: Viet Nam Museum of History)
Renowned as one of the most famous pottery villages in Vietnam, Bát Tràng has a long-established history dating back more than a millennium, to the 11th century. Its ceramics are distinguished for their high quality and meticulously handcrafted designs. Here, traditional crafting techniques are passed down through generations, ensuring the preservation of the art form and its essence.
Bat Trang goods sold in Hanoi in the 1900s
It is in Bát Tràng that my love for pottery was born, nurtured, and solidified. The village's rich pottery tradition has influenced not only my work but also my perspective on life, inspiring me to appreciate beauty in every form and to share that beauty with the world. My deep-rooted connection to this place resonates in every Minh Le Studio ceramic piece, bringing the spirit of Bát Tràng to life for anyone who holds it in their hands.
Coal wall in Bat Trang
My family ceramic tradition
Approximately 600 years ago, a group of skilled potters from Bồ Bát Village, an ancient pottery village in Ninh Bình Province, embarked on a journey in search of new opportunities and resources. They migrated to Bạch Thổ Phường, an area known for its rich white clay deposits, which eventually became the famous Bát Tràng pottery village we know today. Among these pioneering artisans was my family's ancestor, Mr. Lê Phúc Thái. As a visionary and skilled craftsman, he played a crucial role in establishing the Lê Family's presence and reputation in Bát Tràng.
I am incredibly honored to be the 23rd generation descendant of Mr. Lê Phúc Thái. His legacy and passion for the art of pottery have been passed down through the generations, like a treasured heirloom. Throughout the centuries, many of his descendants continued to excel in pottery, contributing to the family's esteemed reputation. While some members of the family branched out into other professions, my immediate family line has remained dedicated to the craft, proudly producing ceramics for five consecutive generations.
My uncle help my dad move a jar out
Today, as I look back on my family's long and storied history in Bát Tràng, I’m filled with pride and gratitude for our ancestor, Mr. Lê Phúc Thái, who embarked on that fateful journey so many years ago. He not only laid the foundation for my family's legacy but also played a significant role in shaping the rich and vibrant ceramic heritage of Bát Tràng village. I continue to honor his vision and craftsmanship by preserving the traditional techniques he passed down while also embracing modern innovations and designs to create unique and captivating ceramic art.
My dad at his young age.
I have always admired and been deeply influenced by my father, Mr. Lê Minh Ngọc. As a talented ceramic artisan, he has left an indelible mark in the world of ceramics, particularly with the creation of Vietnam's tallest vase. My father's passion, dedication, and relentless pursuit of excellence have been a constant source of inspiration for me.
Me at that moment
From an early age, I was fortunate to witness my father's unwavering commitment to his craft. He would spend countless hours in his workshop, meticulously shaping and perfecting each piece. Through his actions, I learned the importance of hard work, patience, and attention to detail. I remember how he would guide me through the process of creating ceramics, always encouraging me to explore my own artistic sensibilities while building a strong foundation in traditional techniques.
My father's incredible accomplishment of crafting the tallest vase in Vietnam, standing at an astounding 3.4 meters, is a testament to his ingenuity and perseverance. I can still recall the excitement and anticipation that filled our home as he and his team worked tirelessly to break his own record. The day the vase emerged from the kiln, intact and towering, was a day of immense pride and joy for our family and the entire Bat Trang community.
My dad with his giant mold, in the process of making the tallest vase in Vietnam
As I have followed in my father's footsteps, pursuing a career in ceramics, his unwavering support and guidance have been invaluable. He has not only taught me the technical skills required to be a successful ceramic artist but also instilled in me a deep appreciation for the history and traditions of Vietnamese ceramics. My father's work, both as an artisan and a mentor, has been a beacon of inspiration, motivating me to continue our family's legacy and contribute to the rich heritage of Bat Trang village.
My dad with his team loading his pieces to the kiln
In my eyes, my father, Mr. Lê Minh Ngọc, is not just a remarkable ceramic artisan; he is my role model and a true embodiment of resilience, creativity, and dedication. I am incredibly proud and grateful to be his son, and I hope to honor his legacy as I continue my own journey in the world of ceramics.
My brother Duke get me ready for my first day of school
Even though my family has a tradition in pottery, my decision to pursue a career in pottery was not as easy and obvious as many people think.
My father is a great, talented and skillful artisan, my mother is a wise and brave woman, but some incidents have occurred, causing my family to stop making pottery 10 years ago.
At that time, when I was young, I was too young to understand the true value of my family's ceramic making tradition. Back then, I thought even though my parents were so good and skillful, they still struggled financially while following this path. And from my point of view at that time, making pottery was just not enough to provide for the family.
Me when I was a receptionist in a hotel
After finishing high school, similar to most of my peers, I decided to go to college, hoping to get a degree, find a good job to help support my family. I got accepted to Hanoi University of Education, one of the top Universities in Vietnam, majoring in Biochemistry. However it didn't feel right to me so I decided to drop out to search for my passion. I packed up and moved to different cities, tried out many jobs and places, hoping to find a path that fit me. I've been a bellman, hotel receptionist, waiter, security man, programmer, salesman, carpenter, builder, mechanic,... I found joy, and learned lots of things in every job I worked but I had not found my passion yet.
Me with my secondhand drink stand
5 years of traveling, working at different jobs and talking to countless people, I noticed that coming from a family with a great ceramic-making tradition is something that makes me proud the most. I talked to people about how talented my father was at his craft and how I wish I could continue the family tradition one day. Well, that's it, "my passion is here" I thought to myself... It took me years of searching to realize. I am determined to pursue pottery.
I moved back to my village from Ho Chi Minh City in early 2021 and set myself on a mission of reviving my family business, picking up from where my parents left off. When I found my passion, and understood what I want in my life, things suddenly became simple. For me now there is no failure, wherever I fall, I will get up again, if I fail, I will do it again and again, until I make it, if I couldn't make it, it's not yet the end. Minh Le Studio is my first pottery business.
Me and Ngan Dong took an oath of upholding the legacy left by our ancestors, building our future from pottery and pursuit it till the end of our life.
Minh Le Studio
In an era of rapid industrialization, I realized a trend among the younger generation moving away from our traditional crafts to pursue more modern career paths. While I acknowledge and appreciate the numerous benefits of industrialization, I feel a profound need to preserve our traditional craft, which I believe is intrinsically beautiful and a significant part of our cultural identity.
With Minh Le Studio, my mission is to share this art form with the world. I believe in not only preserving this traditional craft but also ensuring its relevance and appeal to future generations. I aim to strike a balance where we can cherish our rich cultural past while simultaneously embracing the future.
The idea to craft ceramic bongs came from my desire to introduce a product that encapsulates both the cultural essence of Vietnam and the current global trends. In Vietnam, smoking with a bong is a centuries-old tradition, and I saw the potential of combining this with the art of ceramic-making inherited from my family. The global cannabis industry is becoming more mainstream, yet there's a distinct lack of high-end ceramic products in the bong market. Here, I saw an opportunity where Minh Le Studio could bring something truly unique and valuable to the table.
Every piece from Minh Le Studio is not just a product; it's a story – a tale of the great effort of many local artisans, a chronicle of hundreds of years of culture and tradition. Each piece is a tribute to our rich cultural heritage that customers can appreciate and showcase. Being a smoker myself, I wanted to ensure the functionality of our ceramic bongs so that people could genuinely enjoy the experience of smoking from it. This is crucial to me; after all, we're creating pieces of art meant for everyday use.
Through Minh Le Studio, I am committed to bringing our family's legacy, my story, our cultural tradition, and the remarkable craftsmanship of my hometown to the global stage. This is the essence of Minh Le Studio – a testament to our past, a product of our present, and a promise to our future.
And lastly, a huge thank you to all my customers who have taken the time to read until the end. Your support and interest mean the world to me. By being part of this journey, you are not only appreciating a unique art form but also contributing to the preservation and continuation of a cherished cultural tradition. Once again, thank you for your incredible support.