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Porcelain from Maisons Blanches

Not all porcelain comes from Limoges. Quite obviously it started in China and Germany produces some fairly famous stuff called Meissen from Dresden but in France, Limoges is synonymous with porcelain. However there is also a lot produced in the east of our region at Chauvigny. The Deshoulieres factory has been producing a type of porcelain known as Chauvinois since 1826. This company has several outlets but the one in Chauvigny specialises in plain white porcelain.

The key to porcelain production is Kaolin and this was discovered at Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche near to Limoges in the 18th centuary and which is when the production first began in this region. Porcelain is not just made from kaolin. It is a mix of kaolin with sand, feldspar, clay and chalk but the sources of these other ingredients are more widespread.

To make porcelain is a fairly complex and lengthy procedure.

  • First a mould has to be made out of clay
  • Then the ingedients are mixed into a pourable slurry and poured into the mould
  • Once the slurry has set the item is removed from the mould and if it has handles then these are attached and any rough bits from the mould are wiped off. At this stage the object is softish like clay.
  • First firing at 1000 degrees C. and for about 6 hours.
  • Now it has changed and is hard and ready for glazing by dipping into an enamel liquid.
  • Second firing which turns it into the familiar white porcelain.
  • Decoration, either by using stensils or by hand, often with the use of a potter’s wheel. Sometimes gold is applied.
  • Final firing to set the decoration.

So that’s all there is to it. Actually there are many variations on this theme as you might expect. For example,sometimes instead of slurry a dry powder mixture is used.

I bought the porcelain in the photographs from an outlet at Limalonges, which is on the N10 about half way between Poitiers and Ruffec. Unfortunately I can’t find a web site for them but their address and telephone number is below. They are easy  to find. Just take the Limoges turn off from the N10, head in the direction of Limoges and it is right there, less than half a kilometer from the turn off and on the right hand side. It is well worth a visit. They have both white porcelain and a variety of  patterned porcelain and they are very friendly.

Their address is 14,Rue Auvergne, Maisons Blanches.79190 Limalonges

To see other photos I have taken click Alamy Photos

Tel. 05 49 07 75 25