The first Royal Doulton porcelain figurines were produced at Lambeth in London and Burslem in Stoke-on-Trent during the 1880's. Charles Noke, who would later become Art Director, was responsible for modeling many of the early porcelain figurines and for developing the company's famous HN collection that was launched in 1913. In the beginning, Noke commissioned figures from a number of independent sculptors but in 1920 secured the talents of Leslie Harradine, who became the mainstay of the collection for more than 30 years. Since the 1890's, more than 2,500 different porcelain figurines have been added to the range and are collected around the world. Click here to learn more about the making of a Royal Doulton figurine.
An exciting Royal Doulton event and exposition is to take place at the Marriott Eagle Crest Resort in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
This preeminent international exposition, hosted by The Whitley Collection, is to take place July 17 - 19, 2009 and will feature an expansive roster of prestigious, international exhibitors featuring the finest in Royal Doulton, Moorcroft, and other masters of British art pottery design.
to learn more about this exciting event,
please contact Whitley collection at:
2190 NW 87th Avenue
Doral, FL 33172
The very finest in Royal Doulton Porcelain figurines and much more
at THIS EXCITING EVENT !
R.S.V.P. Below to Receive Your FREE Tickets
The Making of a Royal Doulton Figurine
Whether it's the smallest figurine, such as Miniature Ladies or Bunnykins, or the most complex of Prestige Figures and Limited Editions, the process is very much the same; and it's very much the same as it was in the nineteenth century. So it's little wonder that many Pretty Ladies are inspired by the Victorian period - they are a product of its techniques, artistry, and perfectionism. The creation of a Royal Doulton figurine is a creative process that can take up to one year to take a figure from concept to completion.
That's why a traditional English business like Royal Doulton depends on the ideas, inspiration, and instincts of its very best modelers.
Based in Stoke-on-Trent, Royal Doulton artists form an initial concept which is discussed with colleagues, and a model subsequently created, with due reference to sketches and photographs where appropriate.
This small-scale model is known in the trade as a 'maquette'. But this is still only the beginning. Many models will be sculpted over a matter of months to refine and develop the piece. Once everyone is satisfied with the model, a master model, known as a 'clay', is commissioned. The master model itself passes into the capable hands of the mould-maker. His master mould - or 'block' - will be the basis for all subsequent Plaster of Paris moulds. And he will decide just how many different moulds will be required within this framework. Some may need just one or two. Some may need more than 70.
In the case of Rose Garden, the figure has around 24 different parts, and each part itself is made up of several mould pieces. The mould-maker will begin by marking the figure, and then literally dissect it into component pieces with a sharp scalpel, so that it resembles some elaborate model kit.
The master figures are then used to produce working moulds. At this stage, liquid fine bone china - known as 'slip' - is poured in. Once a thin skin has formed from this, the individual parts are removed to dry naturally. Timing is crucial to guarantee the correct thickness. And it's a highly skilled process, for assembling - sticking up - the figure demands the use of more slip to join the separate elements to form a seamless whole by fettling or smoothing.
In an age of mass production, traditional skills are still paramount.
Tiny, intricate ornaments or detailing will now be added - such as a single flower, piece of jewelry, or soldier's kit - and these are both hand made and hand applied. Rolling and assembling the petals of a rose flower to adorn a Pretty Lady, for example, is a delicate piece of work. It involves each petal, stamen, and leaf, employing special clay for ease of manipulation, the modeler's hands moistened by olive oil.
After this stage, the assembled figurine is ready to begin the first of up to five firings. Figures are generally made from three core ingredients - china clay, Cornish stone, and calcined bone ash - to form a fine 'body' that will withstand repeated firings.
The first, or 'biscuit', firing, produces a matt figure that has shrunk by as much as 10-12.5%. Perfection is all important. Care is taken to ensure that each piece in the limited number that can be fired together in the kilns is flawless, using supports as required. As a result, all trace of the joins has disappeared.
On leaving the kiln, the biscuit china figurine features a matt surface. This can either be painted immediately, or given a 'glaze' of liquid glass.
With all this attention being paid to assembly, it's the artist of figure painter's work that creates the first, lasting impression for a figurine.
At Royal Doulton, a professional artist will carry out the all-important work of painting and finishing the white translucent piece by hand, whether using a paintbrush or spray. And that will be done in close reference to the original design that began, of course, in the Design Studio.
Patience here really is a virtue. A figure like Princess Badoura - Royal Doulton's most expensive and inspired by 'The 1001 Arabian Nights' - takes over 160 hours to paint. Indeed, Prestige Figures can require up to 30 colours. What's more, many pieces feature intricate gold or platinum trim to add that extra realism and touch of finesse.
The sheer complexity of the painting process can entail several enamel kiln firings, since each colour takes a different temperature. The distinctive bold red of Top O' The Hill, for example, requires repeated paintings and firings to achieve its distinctive Harrison Red.
The whole process is completed when a figurine goes in for its final firing...and the all-important final inspection.
Now a piece is ready for careful boxing, boasting a Royal Doulton backstamp, with limited editions especially having a Royal Doulton Certificate of Authenticity. Because of the individual work carried out on each piece, every one is ultimately unique. This is especially true of Limited Edition pieces which are solely made to order.
It's a painstaking process. But we think it's worth the effort, which is why Royal Doulton figurines make such great collectibles to put on display.