Porcelain will pass thirty pairs of hands. When you hold a finished cup or plate in your hand, it has already passed through up to thirty pairs of hands which have taken the porcelain clay through moulding, painting, firing, glazing and packing. Take a tour. Close your eyes, imagine the smell of chalky porcelain clay, and take an imaginary tour to see the noble craft of porcelain manufacturing in all its phases – conceived, designed, and made on the basis of more than 240 years of craftsmanship and tradition.
The design process
Ideas for new Royal Copenhagen products can come from many sources. Often they are inspired by heritage designs that are hundreds of years old in a unique process of design evolution.
But new life is breathed into our products through creative collaborations with designers and artists throughout the whole development process, from concept to final decoration.
Bringing an idea to life is also a process of testing for Royal Copenhagen products and many things can go wrong in the process. Which is why the final results, the pieces that exist are fine examples of the highest quality craftsmanship.
An idea strikes and is sketched or created by the designer/artist. This first form is considered and submitted, the first step in a lengthy process.
The sketch is then modelled in 3D on a computer and from that design, a fragile first model is created by a 3D printer. This printing process, which can take up to a day, lays ultra-thin layers of porcelain over each other until the form takes shape.
The form is made
Fine-tuned by Hand. But it’s the human modeller that perfects the mould, grinding out irregularities and errors and this process can take up to a month, even for the most experienced and educated modeller. All those small details, the ripples and flutes take time, patience and a steady hand…
The original model
An original mould is created from this first model, by way of a computer controlled milling machine in a process that can take up to three days.
In open casting, liquid porcelain is carefully poured into dry moulds that absorb the moisture leaving a shell. When this shell is a certain thickness, the excess liquid porcelain is poured away.
The newly-moulded product
The new item is removed from the mould and any joints and edges are removed and lovingly polished
The final touch
The porcelain is still fairly moist and fragile at this point, which is the perfect opportunity for retouching
and garnishing with handles and decorations. A sure and steady hand is needed to swiftly affix these details to the piece, before it is dried and fired.
Finished with care
The signature blue
Royal Copenhagen’s signature cobalt blue pigment can withstand extremely high temperatures, so is
applied prior to the final glazing and firing. This process makes the colour and the item more robust and able to withstand dishwashing etc.
Painting the porcelain
After preheating, the porcelain remains fragile with a porous and absorbent surface. This is the point that the painters set to work illustrating the porcelain. With brushes made from the delicate fibers from cows’ ears or reindeer belly, they carefully and
painstakingly paint on the lines, flowers and patterns that are so characteristic of Royal Copenhagen craftsmanship.
After this, a thin, light-blue glaze is applied. It is this glaze that reacts with the porcelain clay to create a thin, glossy layer that highlights the beauty and structure of each piece of Royal Copenhagen porcelain.
Firing the porcelain
The product is now fired at nearly 1375 degrees celcius and undergoes a shrinking process losing up to 14% of its size. Many pieces are lost during this final firing; one in five items may be discarded after this step.
The final product
It’s a long process but finally, the product is ready. It may only have taken a few months but via a process
of craftsmanship that has evolved over 240 years at Royal Copenhagen. Which is why when you buy a piece of Royal Copenhagen, you are also buying a piece of Danish history, craft and design.
Want to know more?
Read more about the wonderful materials and the complicated production processes: