Lladro Porcelain Figurines
Creation Of Color

Any lover of porcelain is capable of recognizing a Lladro figurine at a single glance. There are certain characteristics that make a Lladro figurine unmistakable: expressive modeling, fine crystalline finish, delicate coloration. Color is fundamental to Lladro creations. The harmonious combination of innumerable pastel tones, one of the features most admired in Lladro figurines, is only possible thanks to the skills of the artisans and technicians in Porcelain City. They have dedicated many years of research to the perfection of their techniques and to achieving fine aesthetics.
The Lladro brothers' first creations were influenced by classic European porcelain. The resulting pieces have decoration in strong hues. These colors were intense due to the painting technique employed. At that time, low temperature colors were used. Pigments that would fuse at a temperature below 750 degrees celsius because they were unable to withstand the higher temperatures required for hard paste porcelain. This is why it was necessary to apply the pigments after the initial firing of the porcelain, a technique known as over glazing.
At the beginning of the nineteen sixties, however, an authentic revolution took place in the studios of Porcelain City. The team directed by the Lladro brothers made important advances in artistic porcelain. Their combinations led to improvements in the manufacturing processes and the achievement of innovative technical solutions. The figurines made during this fruitful period show a style of their own which is now unmistakable - a style that was soon to become recognized far beyond the native land of the Lladro Family.
It was at this time that Lladro porcelain began to acquire its characteristic decoration. This process involves the simultaneous firing of both the porcelain body and pigments. Unfired figurines were painted using special pigments capable of resisting the high fire temperatures required of true porcelain. This is how the Lladro brothers achieved their characteristic crystalline finish and the delicate coloring that has brought them international acclaim. In view of the spectacular results they obtained, Lladro technicians and artists began creating a whole new palette of soluble colors capable of being used in this new firing process. In addition to the earthy tones, and the blues and grays used in their early pieces, they introduced new colors such as red and yellow allowing countless new combinations to come to life.
The Lladro laboratory has continued to create new mixtures to expand its chromatic palette. Lladro technicians are in close contact with the artists in charge of decorating new pieces after they arrive from the sculptor's building. It is these expert painters, in collaboration with members of the Lladro family, who determine the most suitable colors for each piece.The importance of color is unquestionable. The perfection of a figurine, its expressiveness, strength and sweetness, is largely determined by the correct application of coloring and the suitability of its color combinations.
The artists who dedicate their time to painting figurines are backed by years of experience and special creative skills. For them, each figurines is a blank canvas that will acquire a new lease on life thanks to their skills and sensitivity. It is quite a challenge. The decorator takes into account one very basic rule: Color should not fight against form, but rather highlight and enrich it. After studying each figurine, the decorator starts work. He or she begins with the recommendations of the sculptor but, in the end, the decorator has to select appropriate colors from among the thousands provided by the Lladro palette.
The task is made more difficult by the fact that the solution containing the pigment is colorless in its natural state. The decorator has to rely on his experience with the pigments. Making a mental snapshot of the figurine, the decorator memorizes all the colors to be used. The final result won't be visible until much later when the figurine is taken from the kiln. In the initial stages of figurine creation, this is the long awaited time when the whole team gathers to discuss the results. If any doubts are voiced about the colors, the process of combining pigments begins anew and continues until an agreed up perfection is achieved.
There are differences in the color coats of porcelain and gres. The most oblivious is the intensity of the coloring. But there is a fundamental difference in the methods of color application as well. Whereas the soluble pigments used for decorating porcelain actually dye, or tint, the porcelain body itself, gres uses glazes which are deposited over the surface of the piece like a second layer or color coating.
The process of painting porcelain is shrouded in an aura of magic. Chemical products known as aniline dye have to be used, calling for the creation of special formulas, akin to secret potions. The dyes are used as guides or color codes by the decorator in charge of painting the piece. The colors themselves totally disappear during the firing in the kiln, but the high temperatures bring about a surprising metamorphosis on the surface of the figurines. It is then that the typical Lladro chromatics once again appear in all their glory.
The subtle, harmonious colors of Lladro are meant to create perfect synergy between the spirit of the figurine and its final appearance. What would a Lladro figurine look like if its subdued colors, so full of subtle nuances, were transformed into bright raucous tones?
As with any handmade product slight variations are to be expected. However, the ability to repeat the same colors over and over at all levels of production is ensured by the technicians in Lladro's very modern laboratory where every batch of raw materials is tested for purity and for color. The characteristic chromatic palette created by Lladro dresses each fine porcelain figurine in its proper attire, making each shine with a light of its own. These multiple pastel shades speak the Lladro language which, in the world of artistic porcelain, is legendary.
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