At an unhurried pace and with the same loving care and attention as once lavished by alchemists of old, Lladró porcelain is still handcrafted in Spain, at the company’s only factory in the world, located in Valencia.
From chemistry to modeling, as well as carving, etching, painting… a team of expert artists and designers keeps alive the ancient crafts and methods of turning porcelain into dreams. Unique craft processes that are applied in the most figurative Lladró as well as in lighting products, home accessories and jewelry.
The so-called "white gold" in the Chinese Tang dynasty (618-907 AD) is made up of minerals such as kaolin, quartz and feldspar, with which Lladró creates up to 32 different types of porcelain of the highest quality for its varied range of products.
The birth of a Lladró porcelain begins with the original idea of its author. With his hands and traditional tools, the sculptor gives shape, in clay or plasticine, to an sketch based on his own inspiration and a painstaking process of documentation that, in the case of human figures, it often requires live modeling.
Once the sketch has been modelled, the exciting artistic development of the original model begins. The technical team must visualize and define the fragments in which each piece will be broken down in order to reproduce it later. There are creations so complex that they need to be divided into more than 400 fragments.
This initial fragmentation enables the first reproduction of the different parts in alabaster, a highly resistant material on which sculptors and ornamentalists, with craft techniques of carving and engraving, etch to the smallest detail the faces of figures, architectural elements, vegetation or clothing.
These fragments will form the basis for the die set to create the matrix molds, that are used to obtain the definitive molds. This carefully executed artistic process, from the birth of the idea until the model is ready to be reproduced in porcelain, can take up to five years for the most complex creations in the High Porcelain collection.
To bring the piece to life, their definitive moulds are filled with liquid porcelain that slowly sets inside. With great care, the artists carefully extract the parts of this magical puzzle and recompose them. The molds deteriorate with use, so every once in a while it is necessary to re-create them from their original matrix.
In the pieces including flowers, one of Lladró’s signature elements, specialized artists make and set the petals by hand, one by one, ensuring that each flower is unique and unrepeatable.
Another key moment in this creative phase is the decoration of the piece. With over 4,000 different colors, the Lladró palette is in constant evolution, continuously adding new tonalities created expressly for some pieces.
Lladró’s know-how allows the brand to offer a wide variety of decorative techniques —liquid colors, enamels, lusters… — as well as different textures and finishes — gloss, matte, satin…. Masters in painting apply the colors with a steady hand, delicately outlining the tiniest detail.
And finally, the key moment arrives: the firing in the kiln. As the artists say, porcelain is alive and it is in the kiln where the success of each creation will be judged. In the kiln, the piece undergoes temperatures of up to 1,300ºC (2,500ºF) for a whole day and the true Lladró colors come to the surface.
During the process, the porcelain paste loses water and its size is reduced by about 15%. Ensuring that this reduction in size is uniform, and that the piece does not suffer any damage, is one of the biggest miracles that takes place at Lladró. In the most complex pieces, a porcelain support system is used, which is almost a feat in engineering itself and supports the piece in areas that are difficult to balance. Another key moment in this creative phase is the decoration of the piece.
This complex and laborious process is the only one capable of guaranteeing the degree of excellence that has won Lladró worldwide recognition. The search for perfection also extends to quality control, where the finished sculpture undergoes various tests that certify that it fulfils the high standards demanded by the brand.
Excellence is also applied in the packaging, customized to the individual features of each piece in order to ensure that it reaches its final destination safely and in perfect conditions.