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Luxury Porcelain Chess Sets – Making Process

What types of luxury chess sets are there?

If you are looking for a unique gift and an expensive gift then a good chess set would be a great option. Luxury chess sets can be made of wood, decorated with exquisite carvings, and be a real decoration of your home interior. There are cases – when jewelry brands made chess from gold and silver, encrusted with diamonds and precious stones. A special kind of art is the carving of chess pieces from mammoth tusk, when each piece is a miniature sculpture. The production of such chess pieces can take about one year. Another unique and rare art form is the making of porcelain chess sets. In this article, we tell about the secrets of porcelain chess production.

Porcelain chess – manufacturing process

Initially, each chess piece is molded from clay. Based on the first form, a gypsum model is created, from which a porcelain chess piece will subsequently be made. A gypsum mold is needed because of the properties of gypsum. Then the liquid porcelain mass is poured into the gypsum mold. Gypsum absorbs water and the porcelain mass hardens and thus a porcelain chess piece is formed inside the gypsum mold. Liquid porcelain mass is called slip. Drying of the resulting porcelain chess piece occurs naturally, until completely dry. After that, each miniature sculpture is finalized by hand, if necessary, the porcelain parts are joined together to create complex shapes.

Drying porcelain chess pieces

At the final processing stage, all small seams and roughness are carefully removed from the workpiece and artistic features are added. The master tries to process the workpiece in a short time, as it begins to dry immediately after contact with air. Then, the figurine is air-dried to evaporate the moisture. Porcelain figurines must be completely dry before firing.

Firing porcelain figures in a kiln

Cast and dried figures are fired in kilns. The first firing is done in a gas kiln at around 1,300°C for 12-15 hours. During the first firing, the workpiece changes its color, acquiring the originally intended color. Any impurities in the porcelain mixture during the firing process will lead to a loss of color and the figure will have to be sent to reject. During the firing process, glass transition occurs, which leads to a change in the color and structure of the clay. A porcelain chess piece can shrink in the range of 12-17%. 

If the surface of the figure needs to be sanded to give a satin sheen, then the next step in processing is polishing. Polishing has another additional advantage, namely getting a perfectly smooth surface that will allow to fully revealing the skill of the artist.

Hand painting of porcelain chess pieces

The highest level of skill is required from the artist in terms of painting technique and in the ability to convey the idea of the sculptor. The artist uses special enamels for painting chess pieces, additionally using gold, platinum and silver coating. After quality control, the figurines are re-fired in the kiln. 

Secondary firing of porcelain figurines in electric kilns

If necessary, the unglazed parts of the figurine are polished, additionally painted and fired again. For decorative firing, electric tunnel kilns are used, due to which the paints are firmly fixed on the porcelain surface. When working with glazed porcelain, a third or even fourth firing is used to set the glaze or relief decoration. In the process of decorative firing, the figurines are fired for 4 hours at a temperature of about 700°C.

The cost of porcelain chess

The complexity of the technological process; high level of skill of the sculptor and artists; the duration of the creation of each unique porcelain chess set in the aggregate gives a very high cost of such chess. The best examples of porcelain chess pieces are in world museums and private collections. Their cost can vary from 10 to 15 thousand dollars or more. Only a few workshops in the world make collectible porcelain chess, one of which is Noblie Collectibles.