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Manufacturing hummel figurines

Manufacturing Hummel Figurines

The process begins when a Goebel master sculptor studies a carefully selected drawing or painting by Sister Hummel. Because the drawing has only two dimensions, the sculptor must be able to imagine unseen details and execute them in clay in a style consistent with Hummels’s vision. The sculpting OF THE Hummel figurine may take many weeks, and during that time, a new and original work of art takes shape. The finished Hummel model is presented to the Artistic Board at the Convent of Siessen.
The sculptor and master moldmaker determine where the Hummel figurine should be cut so the moldmaking process can begin. A Hummel figurine may be cut into as many as 40 pieces for ease of production. The pieces of the Hummel figurine are embedded in clay. Plaster of paris is poured over them to make the master mold. A series of positive and negative plaster molds is made, leading to the creation of a durable acrylic resin working model. From the working model, a plaster of paris working mold is made. It can be used only for a limited time before eroding. New working molds are created from the working model as needed.
Liquid ceramic, known as”slip,” composed of kaolin, feldspar, clay, quartz and water, is poured into the plaster working molds. The plaster absorbs moisture from the slip. As the slip thickens, it creates a hollow ceramic shell of the figurine. The excess slip is poured out, and the moist shell is removed for assembly into a completed figurine. The pieces are joined using slip as a sort of glue, then smoothed to remove all seams. The assembled Hummel figurines dry for about one week.
Each Hummel figurine is fired at intense temperatures at least three times during the production process. The kilns are heated and cooled gradually — sudden temperature changes can damage the figurine. The first firing at 2100°F transforms the moist Hummel figurine into its white bisque state. The figurines shrink in size and emerge wih a powdery white finish. Then the piece is hand-dipped and sprayed with a tinted liquid glaze. The second firing is at 1870°F. The figurine emerges glossy white, as the glaze has been melted into a thin, transparent skin of glass. After painting, the Hummel figurine will be fired again at 1407°F to permanently bond the color and create a soft matte finish. Hummel figurines may undergo decor firings up to three times, depending on the colors used.
The paints used on each M.I.Hummel collectible are selected from several hundred hues specially developed to recreate the tones of Sister Hummel’s artwork. The Master Painter prepares a decorated sample, which must be approved by the Convent of Siessen, to guide the highly-trained artists who paint the actual figurines. Since the Hummel figurines are painted by hand, each is unique. Paints are metallic oxide powders mixed as needed with balsam oil and turpentine. Brushes are made of natural hair.
The Hummel figurine creation process takes many weeks and may involve over 700 hand operations with many quality checkpoints. Every new M.I.Hummel figurine is created using this painstaking process, in accordance with the age-old Goebel tradition of quality handcraftsmanship that goes into every Hummel figurine.

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