MOCO LOCO was invited by the Associación de Diseñadores de la Comunidad Valenciana to explore all things Valencian during Valencia Disseny Week last month, and one of the highlights was a behind-the-scenes visit to the Lladró workshops, home to the world famous porcelain.
Rosa Lladró, President of the Lladró board of directors, welcomes us before heading off to a family christening.
Many of us have grown up with some knowledge of the Valencian makers of fine porcelain figurines, usually via relatives who reserved a special spot for them in a glass curio cabinet or in the place of honour on the mantelpiece. But more recently Lladró has been making a concerted effort to add new designs to its repertoire in order to appeal to a wider market.
Kaolin, a very pure clay used for the production of Lladró porcelain
But no matter what the results may be - a fantasy vase designed by Jaime Hayon, a chandelier by Bodo Sperlein or blossom-covered lovers by Committee - the handmade process is always a fascinating journey that involves the skills of many.
Rough clay sculpture that serves as a model for the next phase
So, Lladró opened its doors to us one recent Saturday afternoon, where we were treated to a firsthand view of how Lladró porcelain is made. It is fair to say that we all came away with a new respect for the traditions and talents of a company that has kept the focus on quality and craft.
Detailed wooden sculptures that will be used for the molds
First stage: molds
There are molds for every possible part of each sculpture to ensure that each detail is reproduced. Forget any foolish ideas you may have had about figurines cast from a single mold. Perish the thought ! This is Lladró. There are molds for everything: heads, hands, even ears.
Pouring the slip
The slip, or liquid clay, is poured into the plaster molds held together with strong rubber bands and allowed to set.
Removing the head from a mold
The jockey's head can be set aside to be attached to the torso at another work station.
Attaching the parts
The clay pieces must be carefully attached by hand, and, therefore, cannot be bone dry.
And another leg ...
More slip is used to adhere the legs to the horse's body.
More legs ...
The horse is placed on a specially conceived stand before the jockey's legs and torso are attached next.