Creation of Limoges boxes dates back to the 17th century when the finance minister of King Louis XVI gave a royal edict to the Limoges city of France i.e. an exclusive title to produce Royal Limoges Porcelain for the kingdom of France.
Limoges boxes are small porcelain trinket boxes that are made up of kaolin a specialized kind of porcelain that is only found in the Limousine region of France. These boxes are made exclusively in Limoges factories in Limoges city of France that are collected worldwide.
Modern art collectors all over the world collect these boxes as a token of exquisite crafting but originally these boxes were first made to store valuable and expensive pins. Also, they were a necessary item in the wardrobe to keep for in pockets and were used to keep cigarettes or used as snuff boxes or sometimes pillboxes.
Making of Limoges boxes
Making of Limoges boxes is an art form which dates 200 years back and is extremely labor-intensive. First, the original mold of Limoges porcelain is made which consists of kaolin, feldspar, and quartz which are mixed with water to make a paste then sculpted in molds. The molds are generally bigger in size than the final stage it gets shrink into.
The kaolin paste is placed in molds so as to absorb the excess water and when it is partially dried the form is removed from the molds to remove any excess particles and dusted. The small parts such as of cats etc. are joined together using the kaolin paste as glue after that it is washed with cold water to ensure flawless conditions.
These kaolin molds are then put into firing at a temperature of about 900 degrees which dry and harden them partially. After that, they are dipped in a bath of glaze and again put into firing at about 1400 degrees. This process shrinks the porcelain about 15% and during this procedure, the stone particles fuse together and the coating on the surface forms a permanent bond that results in shiny, translucent, smooth and purely white porcelain.
Then comes the phase of hand painting of these porcelain figurines. The process is a multilevel and lengthy one and requires years of extensive training and experience. The paint is mixed in powder form with oils to achieve the desired shade of color and with each color applied the Limoges are placed in firing at about 800 to1200 degrees depending upon the shade of color and after it cools down then another color is applied.
After these porcelain figurines are completely decorated, these Limoges boxes are ready to be hinged. This too is done by hand and is a multilevel and lengthy process and is done by expert craftsmen.
The end results are the beautifully crafted Limoges porcelain figurines boxes ready to be gifted or an addition to your personal art collection which enchants our heart with the beautiful and extraordinary work of the artists and craftsmen of the Limoges. So, enjoy and cherish this special and elegant piece of art from France.
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