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How a Lladro Figurine is Made
The process of how Lladro figurines are created is actually quite fascinating. A Lladro figurine begins its life as a simple sketch, with some done by the Lladro brothers themselves and others by the designers working for them. Once a sketch has been approved by the Lladros, a model is made in clay by a master sculptor. The model is approximately 1/3 larger than the finished figure which allows for shrinkage when fired. The sculpture is then analyzed by the Lladro family who make any necessary changes to the design before giving it final approval.
Once approved the model is cut into several pieces to form molds. On average it requires 15 to 20 molds to make a figurine. More complex pieces may require more than 200 molds! The molds are filled with a secret blend of porcelain formulated by the company's chemistry department. This blend is actually a carefully guarded family secret. Once hardened, they are removed, cleaned and inspected. The separate pieces are then hand polished to ensure a seamless joining. The figurines are then reassembled using liquid porcelain to cement them together.
The next step is the process of hand painting the figurine. This is a task undertaken by master craftsmen who specialize in this painstaking process. After the figurine is painted decorative accents such as parasols, leaves and flowers may be added depending on the particular design. This process is a skill unto itself and there are artists who are dedicated exclusively to this procedure. The task of adding these flowers to a figurine is painstaking and time consuming as each leaf and petal must be individually modeled and applied to the sculpture. This explains the higher retail price for figurines with flowerwork.
At this point a matte figurine is ready to fired. If the figurine is to be glazed this is applied by master artisans who are careful not to allow the glaze to be so thick as to obscure any subtle details.
A small hole is then punched in the base of the piece in order to prevent cracking during firing. Sometimes a small particle of clay will be pushed inside the piece and get fired which causes a rattle when the figurine has cooled. Jose Lladro coined the phrase "Lladro bell" to describe this phenomenon. The figurine is then fired in a kiln at approximately 2500 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 20 hours. Once removed and cooled, the Lladro brothers conduct a final inspection to assure the figurine meets their high standards.
As you can see this is far from a simple process and seeing how much work goes into each figurine makes one truly appreciate the craftsmanship involved!