The price of Herend porcelain has, on occasion, caused to me to clutch my heart and fear death. You couldn’t pay me enough money to put some of the patterns on my table; and for others, I’d willing paying a King’s ransom… were I married to one.
This was my first time to visit the factory and see for myself why it costs so much… and I’m suitable chastened. There are whole families employed at the factory, many of whom have worked nowhere else. In a world of portfolio careers, in this town in northwestern Hungary jobs for life are still within reach. The company has been around for 180+ years and trains its workforce locally, with many training for three years before taking up a position.
Many of the figurines are made piece by piece – literally. A separate mould for the donkey’s ear, the wolf’s chin, the bear’s nose. And at maximum output, figure on maybe two figurines a day, per artist. And, an interesting piece of trivia – the ‘glue’ used is plain tap water.
These porcelain baskets, by contrast, take about 20 minutes, once you get the hang of them. They start off green but within 7 days or so, dry out to a nice white.
This certainly is not the job for me. Poke the wrong hole and you can’t correct your mistake. No doing over. No touching up. You’re screwed. For this, you’re looking at a whole day…
Trace it. Outline it. Bake it. Paint it. Bake it. You’d need the patience of Job for this. These particular hands have been painting in Herend for 43 years and are soon to retire. Respect. One plate can take up to 40 hours… a whole week.
So, now that I know why it’s so expensive, I’m left wondering who buys the stuff? The Hungarian government gave William and Kate a full service for their wedding last year. What a shame princes these days don’t use the personals….