The first thing to do is to create a model. The original model can be a drawing, an existing object or a mockup sample.
From this a mother mold will be made.
The mother mold is used for producing working molds by casting them with special plaster.
The white plaster working mold gets triggered out of the mother mold. This step has to be done with all parts of the mother mold which are needed to complete the item. In most cases there are two to four parts.
All the parts of the working molds will be put together. In our case there are two halves which are put together to build a cavity.
The liquid mass (mixture of kaolin, feldspar and quartz) will be poured into the molds with a fine hose.
After 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the item, the mold will be turned around so that the surplus material can run out of it. The porcelain mass is drying on the inside wall of the plaster working mold during this time. The longer the mass is in the form, the thicker is the wall thickness of the porcelain later. If it´s a shorter time in the mold, the thickness is thinner.
After one day in a drying room with a temperature of 50°C the porcelain forms are checked to see if they are dry enough to free them out of the mold. The porcelain forms shrinked because of the drying. Now they can be removed from the molds easily.
The working molds can be opened now.
The results are miniature beer steins.
Now the miniature beer steins can be taken out of the working mold. Because the mass is very soft, there is a big danger of deformation. Too much pressure with a finger and the porcelain form is destroyed, so this step in production is very sensitive.
Now the neck of the miniature beer steins will be seperated.
Still the miniature beer steins are soft and wet, so they must dry at least for one day.
After this time the edges and rims can be cleaned by using a knife and a wet sponge.
All remaining sharp edges, marks or scratches have to be washed off carefully with a very special natural sponge. This job has to be done very carefully and by an experienced operator.
Now it´s time for the first firing. This pre-firing is executed at 800°C. Because of this the pieces run dry. Now they can absorb the glaze perfectly. This pre-firing is essential for the quality of the production. After firing the pieces have to cool down, so they can be taken to the glazing process.
Our little porcelain pieces get dipped into the glaze with a pair of tweezers.
The pieces have to be completely covered on the inside and the outside with the glaze.
It´s very important that the glaze has the right mixture and texture. So the dry pieces can soak the glaze. Than they have to dry for at least one day.
The glaze has to be rubbed off the bottom of the stein. Otherwise the glaze would stick to the firing plates and both, the porcelain and the firing plates would be destroyed.
Now the porcelain pieces are ready to be fired. Our porcelain is fired on temperatures of 1280° to 1360°C.
After the firing the miniature beer steins are set in their permanent shape and size.
On the left is the beer stein before firing and on the right after firing. The difference is huge. Due to the firing and the heat the porcelain loses water and shrinks by more than 16%. The difficulties to control the high temperatures lead to small differences in the shrinking rate which is one of the biggest problems for making miniature porcelain.
After the high-temperature firing, the porcelain is smooth, shiny and white so it can be taken for decoration. Now hand painted gold rims can be applied as well as special printed ceramic decals. The ceramic decals will be soaked with warm water and carefully imprinted on the porcelain.
The surplus water and air will be pressed out carefully.
On the bottom of each of our porcelain pieces the “Reutter Porzellan“ back stamp will be put.
Again the pieces have to be dried before they can be fired a third time. Therefore they need to be placed on tiles of high-temperature steel.
These tiles will be placed in a special kiln.
At a temperature of about 805°C the decoration will be fired into the glaze of the porcelain which makes the decoration permanent.
Most of our miniature porcelain pieces are in the size 1:12 and are used in doll houses or beautifully arranged wallpictures as well as for our general collection.
The final assembly of porcelain miniatures requires a calm hand, a lot of experience and plenty of time.
Over the last decades the “Reutter Porzellan“ factory has perfected it´s porcelain skills and expanded their collections consistently. Our porcelain miniatures are the only ones of their kind to be manufactured in Europe.
In addition to our miniature line we produce a lot of gift items using well-known license designs such as the original drawings of M.I. Hummel or the Peter Rabbit motifs of Beatrix Potter. A further range of Children´s Tea Sets and Breakfast Sets as well as high quality souvenir items complete the collection.