Mr. Dieter Zeus responsible for the porcelain mass at Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg speaks about his work.
A tall, muscular craftsman, Zeus' appearance lives up to his olympian name. Strong enough to handle the hard physical work, yet able to tell the perfect consistency of a porcelain paste at a touch, he is as knowledgeable about the process of creating porcelain as he is passionate about his part in that process.
How long have you been employed at Nymphenburg?
Zeus: I have been here since 1st September 1979, for 34 years. My brother, who was already working for Nymphenburg, told me about an upcoming vacancy. I applied for the job, was hired and finally ended up in the paste mill.
What does it take to be able to do this job?
You should have a creative vein for this job. Of course, there's a recipe, but still you have to judge, you work based on experience, and sometimes it's pure instinct. We have a special mixture, which I can't divulge, it's a company secret.
And what happens to the mixture?
We store it for at least two years in our paste cellar. We have about 30 – 40 tonnes stored, meaning we have pre-produced enough for the next three years. That's a reassuring feeling. Even if I got sick, the production would never be at risk and we could continue for several years without problem.
Is the basic paste always the same, no matter what it is used for?
It's always the same paste. But the storage times vary. For larger objects, the paste that has been stored for five years is better suited. It's even finer.
Do your historical surroundings inspire you? It's not like a normal production site.
Sure. The way we do things here is unique. There's no other place like it. The old machines themselves are fascinating, they constantly have to be inspected and maintained. The mills are propelled by cogs that have to be cared for, so they are always in working order.
How does a normal day at work begin?
My working day begins between four and six. I have to distribute the material for the different departments, so they can get started when they arrive at seven.
How can you tell that the consistency of the paste is right for production?
By touching the paste. How soft it is, how homogenous it feels. It's down to experience, really. I can't explain it, it's just intuitive. You grow into it, but it takes years.
What was your greatest experience in the years that you have been working here?
I can't really tell you anything special. We have had many distinguished visitors, (former first lady) Hannelore Kohl was here once, the King of Thailand and others. Of course it's a special occasion when visitors come, but I can't really single out any one visit. It doesn't have to be someone famous, everyone is welcome and it's always special. It's always a bit exciting when visitors come through. You're standing at the machine, trying to do your work and the visitors are watching, that's great and something that you can only experience here.
Getting up so early and undertaking that long drive to work obviously requires more than just enthusiasm for one's work. Maybe even passion?
My heart and soul is in it, else I wouldn't do it. I honestly couldn't imagine doing anything else. I hope that I will be able to do it for another while, especially physically. But I'm not really worried, as I am "pumperlgesund" (Bavarian expression that roughly translates to "fit as a fiddle").