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Lladro Process Of Creation

May 16, 2008
Design and creation

Each individual Lladró art piece is the end result of hours upon hours of artistic craftsmanship. Lladró sculptors use their own individual afflatus, but they also create, when the piece requires it, a laborious routine of investigation and documentation. This can often be found when it is a Lladró piece that ventures into the realms of different cultures and artistic styles.

Lladró pieces begin their journey with inspiration. Whether it be from different cultures, styles or artists that have left their mark over time. After this the sculptor draws up their first design on paper for the new Lladró piece, this is then approved by Lladró's Creativity Committee. It is made up from many influential members of the Lladró Company and one even from the family itself. They ensure that every design that passes on to the next stage is up to the high quality standards that customers have come to expect from Lladró. The sculptor design is then replicated in plaster, in time this will become the mould for the actual piece and is the foundations of every Lladró piece.

A normal medium size figurine can need anything from 15 to 20 moulds and often an extra 300 for the elaborate pieces that adorn it. The individual pieces that are taken from the moulds are then joined together using liquid porcelain paste. This gives the exact replica of the original model that the sculptor is looking for. Of course each Lladró must reach the high standard of quality that is expected.

The decoration

After the figurine has been constructed in porcelain it then needs to be decorated. Thus begins the decoration process. At this stage in the creation process the surface of the Lladró piece is completely smooth and requires the details that make every piece as spectacular as they are. In keeping with the design and with instructions from the sculptor, patterns and shapes are carved into the figurine, bringing it to life. Though it now looks much more life like, the figurine still lacks the detail in the face and it is at this point that this detail is added. The tiniest details are carved into the face of the figurine making it every bit as close to reality as is humanly possible for the sculptors. To get the complete amount of detail the figure is then painted by an artist and if required a finish is applied. There are two main kinds of finishes that are applied to necessary pieces. Glaze and Matte If a figurine is to be glazed it is taken after being painted to the artists spray booth, where it is placed on a turntable. From here the piece gets an even coating of a pale blue glaze that hides the colour completely. Then the figurine is fired in a kiln where the glaze crystallises under the intense heat and becomes clear leaving the piece with a glossy shine that is an undisputable part of the Lladró image. The figure however may need a Matte finish, there are not many pieces in the Lladró range but they still shine out in beauty and craftsmanship. If the piece does require a Matte finish, the process is much more simple that that of Glazing. After the piece has been cast from porcelain in the plaster moulds it is then either painted or left as it was from the cast. It is then fired in a kiln without the shiny glaze to leave it with a smooth Matte finish.

Flowers

However perhaps the most impressive parts of any Lladró figurine is the delicate, handcrafted flowers that accompany them. The flowers them selves are hand crafted by specialised artists called Flower-Makers, who make the flowers by hand from small bits of clay. Like the Lladró figurines every different style of flower requires a different technique. The larger flowers begin on the outside and the artist careful works they way inwards. However with the smaller flowers it is the complete opposite of this. The flowers are started at the centre and are built up to the outside. Then the Stamens and pistils that make up the head of the flower are formed by bits of clay being forced through micro-screens. This is a delicate and complex process, but gives textures that are incredibly true to nature. The flowers are then placed onto the figurine after the glazing process in their positions according to the given plan. The liquid paste that is used to keep the pieces together is again used to affix the flowers. Unlike the figurines that have their glaze applied the flowers have glazing properties mixed into the clay, with which they were created. This may seem like a large amount of work for what maybe considered by some not much, but for the artists at Lladró every detail of the piece must be taken into account and accomplished to the highest possible standard. However long that may take.

Firing

Now at the finishing stages the figurine needs to be fired in the kiln. This can take anything from 20 to 24 hours. During this time the figurines are exposed to heats of up to 1400 degrees Celsius. A small hole is often pushed into the bottom of the piece; this is put here to prevent combustion. Sometimes a little bit of clay will be pushed into the piece during the process and will inevitably be fired. This makes the piece rattle and is what Jose Lladró once referred to as a "The Lladró bell". While the figurine is being fired in the kiln a transformation takes place. The porcelain hardens, varnish crystallises and the colours that have been hidden by the varnish now appear bring the piece to life again. After the firing process is finished the figurine will have reduced in size by about 18-20%. The piece now stands in its full glory with every individual piece coming together in one symphony of outstanding colour and artistic craftsmanship.

For further information, please visit our website at http://www.theukgiftcompany.co.uk
About the Author
To explore our range of Lladro collectibles further, please visit our website at http://www.theukgiftcompany.co.uk
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