Manufacturing Process

Each piece of our finest bone china is carefully hand made and hand decorated at our factory in Stoke-on-Trent in England.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

The process of manufacture of this high quality product follows a traditional sequence. The clay body for producing all the ware is a traditional blend of china clay for plasticity, ground animal bone for strength and Cornish stone, along with other ingredients, for its fusing qualities mixed with water in strictly measured quantities to produce the finest liquid clay or slip.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

For flatware pieces such as plates and saucers pug clay is delivered to the factory having been through the process of slip pumped into presses which squeeze most of the water out leaving a cake of clay which is put through a pug mill to remove any air bubbles and give pug rolls of clay of a fine even consistency.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

Parts of clay are sliced from this roll and formed on a wheel into circles of even thickness. And these are positioned on a mould which is put onto a jigger to form the base of the plate by the use of a profile tool on the machine. The edges are trimmed by hand. The mould with the formed clay on it is then placed on a shelf in the drier.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

Once dry the plates are taken off the moulds and stacked in small piles then introduced individually onto the sponging machine which automatically smoothes the edge with articulated sponge then wipes off any surplus with the wet smooth sponge before plates are restacked. Both the face and back of each plate are then sponged by hand.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

The plates are then put into firing setters and arranged on a truck ready for the first firing.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

Hollowware production is expertly carried out at speed by a casting method using the liquid slip. The slip is piped into the working area and each assembled mould is filled. Moulds for handles, spouts, knobs and foot rings are also filled.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

The filled moulds are then left for varying times depending up on the size the piece of ware to give the correct weight of the final piece.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

During this time the plaster of Paris mould is absorbing water from the slip which begins to harden from the outside where it’s in the contact with the plaster of Paris.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

The operative is experienced in knowing the precise moment when harden clay has reached the required thickness for that piece of hollowware when he must tip the mould and allow the surplus slip to drain out. This excess slip is then recycled for future use.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

Once drained he would trim off surplus clay then this further drying in the atmosphere before breaking open the mould to reveal the resulting peace of ware.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

If there are component parts to attach such as handles, spouts, knobs or foot rings, these are skillfully fixed using just a liquid slip itself.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

Any surplus slip is wiped away with the small brush and the joints finished off neatly. The completed piece is now dried further overnight in the dehumidifying drier.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

Next is the fettling stage. To remove any ridges left from seams in the mould, smooth off all seams and surfaces and round off the tops and edges of the piece.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

The ware is now ready for loading onto a truck and being placed in a kiln for its first firing. The kiln reaches a temperature of 1230 degrees centigrade and all elements of the body of the ware fuse together to form a strong yet elegant piece of biscuit ware. Called this because its surface is relatively rough and it’s still slightly porous. The contraction in size of 12.5% takes place during the firing.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

After this first firing the ware is carefully cleaned and quality checked. It now has a ring to it and any remaining roughness is carefully smoothed away.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

It’s now ready for glazing. Glaze is simply a form of liquid translucent glass which forms a water type bonded surface in the second firing. The glaze is skillfully applied in spray form to reach all parts of the surface of the ware in an even coating.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

The pieces are left to dry under infrared heaters.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

The ware is then loaded into a truck for the second or glost firing at the temperature of 1100 degrees centigrade.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

Once cool after this firing the ware is glost selected for quality and then identified details are carefully polished off to give an even surface prior to decoration.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

Surface pattern is achieved by a method of slide lithographing. Large sheets have previously been printed. These need to be quality checked, perforated then broken down into smaller sheets for convenience.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

The slide on transfers are soaked in water and then skillfully placed and positioned on the ware and surplus water wiped off.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

It’s at this stage that the transfer printed back stamp is applied.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

The decorated ware is now ready for third firing during which the pattern fuses to the surface of the ware. There are varying kiln temperatures for different designs.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

Hand painted decoration ranges from commissioned multi-colour designs to lining of the ware with gold equivalent to 22 carat or platinum. A highly skilled gilder applies the gold or platinum with the fine brush.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

She uses a rotating wheel to help with the fine lining. A brown die is used so that she can see the lining clearly. This die disappears in the firing to leave the gold or the platinum on the final pieces.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

Any gold decoration has a dull look after firing and the gold areas on each piece of ware are carefully burnished to allow the gold to gleam impressively.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

Some patterns have been previously etched into the surface of the ware and the application of gold to these areas or rims really accentuates the fine three dimensional pattern.

Manufacturing process   Manufacturing process

There may still be yet more lining and further firing depending on the design. Meticulous quality control is carried out in each process of manufacture and decoration. Every piece of Royal Buckingham bone china is expertly fashioned glazed and decorated.