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Munich, Germany
I am married to the love of my life and am finally able to shower him with all of the attention he deserves. I am now retired and living the life here in Europe. I am an American, he is an Australian, and this is our second overseas address. The first was Shanghai, China and now Munich, Germany. Come along and live the life with us as we continue our adventure of discovering all Europe has to offer.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010


The FORMING stage:

Throwing pottery is one of my favorite things to do. Once I learn where I can work on a potters wheel here in Germany, I'm there. Of course, I dabble.
 The gentleman in the photo above is a master potter and he works at the famous Meissen Porcelain Factory in Meissen, Germany which is near Dresden. He began by throwing clay on the potters wheel and formed it into a medium sized cone. He used his thumb to make a hole in the middle and then ended up with a small vase like form that he put into a mold. Using a sponge, he gently pressed on the inside of the mold making the clay smooth, uniform and thin. What he is holding out for you to see is how the clay looks after it has come out of the mold. It has not been fired yet.

The potter took the mold and set this small head on top.  I have no idea why he did it, I know it isn't supposed to go there, but perhaps he was trying to illustrate what can be added to pieces.

The next step in the process is the intricate work done with clay tools to add and subtract from the work.  Using different clay tools and slip (liquid clay), the artist can refine the work.

Notice how she has given texture to the piece and the folds in the cloth are crisp and precise.  

The piece on the left has not been bisque fired and is called greenware. Greenware may be in any form of drying: wet, damp, soft leather-hard, leather-hard, stiff leather-hard, dry, and bone dry.  In this form it is very fragile and must be loaded into the kiln very carefully.  Once fired, they become ceramic or porcelain like the pieces on the right.  

This step is also used to add pieces such as the flower petals she is holding to the greenware.   She formed them by hand by simply rubbing the clay into small coils and forming the petals in the palm of her hand.  She will use slip to join them together.


After the piece has been fired in the kiln (a furnace) the decoration can now be under glazed.  Notice how she holds the bowl under the table for stability.  The under glaze is green, but once fired again it will become blue.

Very detailed work and requires a steady hand!

The first step to applying the under glaze is to have a pattern applied using a stencil like the one above.  The Meissen Company has stencils and molds that date back to it's conception in 1710.  They can retrieve any pattern for duplication.

Once the stencil is applied, it looks like plate #2 above.

Here, the artist has used the stencil to apply the glaze in different widths and values.

A clear glaze is applied over the plate (on the left) and it is fired again.  It will appear clear after the firing.

This is the completed plate--notice it is blue and white upon completion.

Decoration applied on top of a layer of a layer of glaze is called overglazing .  Here the artist is applying an overglaze decoration of gold to one of Meissens' popular dragon design. 

It is a painstaking process with an expensive media.  You can be sure there is no waste.

Here are some "Final Products" from the Meissen Porcelain Factory.  If you have a few grand or more laying about, you could probably afford the tea set to the far right.  Since Meissen is the most famous European porcelain manufacturer today and owns one of the oldest trademarks in existence, you will not be purchasing a piece of porcelain, but making an investment in something that was once owned by the upper classes of the major cities in Europe.  When the wealthy class emerged in the United States people like the Vanderbilts started their own collection. 
Now, many of these collections are in the world's great museums.

Tableware in the famous green vine pattern is one of the more popular patterns.

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