The difficulty of creating an umbrella in porcelain is two fold - it is rarely seen in porcelain pieces as it is complex to make, and the brittle features are inconvenient to package.
The porcelain lace umbrella of Finesse (right).
MAKING LLADRÓ'S PORCELAIN LACE
Umbrellas especially the Lladró’s lace umbrellas are complex to make. Porcelain lace was created by the Chinese but the process has in mixed results, and achieving consistency was a problem. As ceramicists became more experienced, they started using porcelain lace for dresses as it has a might higher success rate and is easier to control.
The process of making porcelain lace much more complex. It is finicky at best and requires a skilled sculptor. The porcelain lace has many holes in it (as fabric lace does) and is structurally difficult to handle in its clay form. During the firing process it also requires appropriate supports to hold the shape of the umbrella to ensure that the curvature of the umbrella is just right, and that the lace does not misshapen in the kiln. The most delicate part of this process is the cooling down process, in which large temperature variations will break or warp the porcelain lace, making all efforts so far futile.
The results are phenomenal, as you can see in the image of the single layer porcelain lace umbrella of the piece Finesse. The lace also has flowers on it, and holes of varying sizes, just like the delicate french lace it is modelled after.
PACKING THE DELICATE UMBRELLAS
All porcelain pieces not only have to be made, they also need to be transported. Even if the customer resides in Valencia, 2 kilometres from where the Lladró factory is, how are they going to bring it home? carrying it by hand is certainly out of the question. With every piece of Lladró, a lot of thought and testing has been done to its packaging.
Every new piece that is designed will have a packaging system designed for the piece, and it is also tested for resilience, with even multiple drop tests from 1 metre high! This is crucial as Lladró pieces are sent to the far corners of earth and some customers still keep the packaging of pieces they’ve bought from the 1960s or 1970s as this is a failproof method to transport your pieces.
The beauty of Lladró’s umbrellas are undoubtedly more appreciated once you look deeper into how difficult it is to make them.