The fascinating world of porcelain production
„PRODUCTION, PROCESSING AND FINISHING SEPARATE THE SIMPLE FROM SOMETHING SPECIAL“Gianluca Colonna
Porcelain manufacture may involve three simple components – production, processing and finishing – but it is precisely these processes that create something special. On this site, we will show you the various steps that a service piece or vase has to go through, the skilled craftsmanship required, the different production methods that exist, and the methods used to decorate and finish products. You will discover that the production of white gold is not only an exceptionally long and complex process, but also that – in spite of state-of-the-art production facilities – this process is still associated with a great deal of craftsmanship and handiwork. But most of all – and this has distinguished our products for over 135 years – it is all thanks to the expertise, the passion, the attention to detail and the vast experience of our 850 employees that each individual Rosenthal product is designed to impress with a very special formal and functional quality as well as white quality that makes your home unique.
Porcelain art through the ages
Rosenthal GmbH may have one of the longest traditions of Germany's brand manufacturers, but is also one of the most modern. Just as we did when we were originally founded over 135 years ago, Rosenthal develops products equally for discerning end customers and for exacting professional clients from the restaurant and hotel trade. Our products stand out with exceptional form, function, quality and craftsmanship and represent a cultural asset “made in Germany”, never ceasing to combine innovation and creativity. The collections are manufactured in the Rosenthal porcelain factory in Rothbühl in Selb and the “Thomas am Kulm” porcelain factory in Speichersdorf, which offer some of the porcelain industry's most advanced production facilities anywhere in the world and deliver sustainable manufacturing with careful use of resources thanks to the forward-looking investments that have been made. Today, the primary sales markets are in Central Europe, North America and Southeast Asia. With a global presence in 105 countries, alongside the USA the company's key growth markets also include Poland, Russia, China and India. In August 2009, Rosenthal became part of the Sambonet Paderno Group, the Italian market leader in the production of high-end designer products for the table and kitchen. New interior and lifestyle collections enrich the Rosenthal world by adding designer objects that go far beyond the limits of a conventional table setting and open up additional promising growth markets for the company in the luxury segment.
Rosenthal am Rothbühl factory, designed by W. Gropius
Rosenthal Interior furniture collection
With its award-winning porcelain design, trendy lifestyle collections and modern, elegant classics, the Rosenthal brand raises the bar time and again for aesthetics and individuality. Established figures from the worlds of architecture, design and art, but also the hottest newcomers and talents design avant-garde dinner table collections, foster a joy of giving and create sophisticated furnishings.
Rosenthal meets Versace
Antique motifs and ancient myths, baroque symbols and exotic dream worlds – the luxurious Rosenthal meets Versace collections combine the glamorous lifestyle of the fashion house with the highest requirements in terms of aesthetics, perfection and craftsmanship. Versace is well known for its ability to bring together the historical and the ultra-modern, to create timeless yet contemporary designs.
Taking its inspiration from the colours and shapes of fauna and flora, the Hutschenreuther porcelain line boasts a collection of affectionate motifs to see us through the whole year. Whether spring, summer, autumn or winter, the versatile service concepts allow you to play with the seasons. Sasonal gift ideas and lovingly crafted collector's items will make you want to diversify your decorations.
The joy of cooking, eating, drinking and giving paired with a functional and unique design, trendy white shapes and cheerful, sunny colours – these are all characteristic features of the Thomas brand founded in 1903. The brand conjures up an appealing sense of uniqueness for every dinner table with its numerous combination options, a mixture of different materials and many practical details!
Reduction instead of decoration – this clear commitment has moulded the Arzberg design brand’s success story since 1931. With its porcelain collections like Form 1382, Form 2000, TRIC, Cucina or Joyn Arzberg turns eating and drinking into a true experience. The special requirement: Being entwined with beauty, commitment to functionality, and relevance to life.
After the biscuit and glost firing processes, the porcelain is hard, impact resistant and translucent. Hard porcelain has the highest scratch resistance to stainless steel cutlery and is unaffected by acids, except hydrofluoric acid. Porcelain is weatherproof and does not change after the last firing, no matter how old it gets. It is suitable for use in the microwave oven with the exception of items decorated with precious metals (gold, platinum). The white colour of the porcelain is achieved by reduction firing. This means it is fired in an atmosphere of reduced oxygen.
Black porcelain is a special Rosenthal product. As precious a porcelain as “porcelaine noire” should never be put in the dishwasher. It is best to wash it by hand in warm water and to dry it immediately with a soft cloth. Sustained contact of crockery with food containing lemon or acetic acid should be avoided as staining could occur. Black porcelain should also never be used in the microwave oven.
The unglazed feet of the plates and contact surfaces of the porcelain are still rough even after the second firing. By grinding and polishing repeatedly they become smooth, pleasant to touch and dirt resistant.
The undecorated porcelain, also called finished white ware, is carefully sorted by highly skilled personnel. The intrinsic characteristics of the materials and the ceramic production process, especially the firing, inevitably cause tolerances and minute deviations between individual pieces. The sorting process accurately separates out the items with such levels of deviation and discards altogether pieces with defects.
Aside from hand painting, there is a wide range of high-quality decorative methods available today. Artists' designs are scanned into a computer and reworked by an elaborate software programme in order to make them fit onto each piece of a dinnerware service so that they can then be transferred onto the three-dimensional shape. The character of the artist's signature is fully preserved. After this process, the designs are printed onto specially prepared paper spread with a layer of glue. This makes it easier to lift the colour decorations off the paper and onto the porcelain. The colours are applied onto the paper using the screen-printing method. Very finely meshed metal screens allow the colour to permeate only in desired areas. Each colour is printed separately, which means that a new screen has to be prepared each time. The different colours are printed one after the other and aligned exactly. Screen-printing allows a strong application of colour, which after firing produces a rich glow of colour. After printing, the transfer sheet is coated with a layer of lacquer. In order to decorate a porcelain piece, the decal is soaked in water to dissolve the layer of glue. The flimsy and wet colour film is then carefully applied to the porcelain.
Lustre, gold and platinum bands, handles, spouts and gilded reliefs are all hand painted. after firing, fibreglass brushes are used to burnish the gold layer to a high gloss.
The iconic head of Medusa adorning the Rosenthal meets Versace collections is gilded by hand and looks brown in its unfired state.
When larger areas of a porcelain piece are to be coloured, the colour foundation is distributed evenly with a spray gun. All areas that are to remain white are varnished beforehand with a lacquer that must be removed after spraying. After removal of the lacquer layer and before firing, the white areas of the porcelain are cleaned carefully. Even the tiniest amounts of colour residue would turn into visible spots after firing.
Ensuring that the colour is applied evenly by hand requires a great deal of experience.
Combination matt – glossy
There are several methods to produce the combination matt – glossy.
- matt glaze is sprayed onto the porcelain in a similar fashion to a colour base using a spray gun and then fired.
- Glazed porcelain can be made matt by sandblasting.
- The areas that are to remain matt and unglazed are covered with wax before being dipped into the glaze. The wax burns off during sharp firing.