Last week I went on a guided tour through the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory Augarten. Even though I took the same tour some 15 years ago, I found it very interesting to look behind the scenes of professional porcelain making again. In this one-hour tour, you can catch a glimpse behind the scenes: From mixing porcelain from kaolin, feldspar and quartz, to slip casting, throwing, sanding and firing until the final glazing, painting and distribution.
As a studio potter, I have the same or a very similar workflow. Nevertheless, I was fascinated by the fact that there is a separate section for each production step. When I think of the way I work in my one-room studio, it makes me feel rather small. On the other hand, I have never considered the lack of space as an obstacle in my creativity.
I was nearly breathless while sneaking between huge shelves filled with plaster moulds and huge amounts of porcelain-ware waiting to be fired or painted. Another thing that amazes me is that all the filigree decoration patterns on their porcelain are hand-painted by skilled artists. When you look at the final products, it is hard to believe that they were not finished by a machine.
Unfortunately I was not allowed to take photos during the tour so I cannot share any with you. If you want to learn more about this nearly 300 hundred years old institution, you can check their nicely made homepage. Also I can recommend this short video.
If you ever come to Vienna, or if you live there already, visit one of the oldest European porcelain manufactories.