Paste mill

The production of the correct mix of kaolin, feldspar and quartz is an art that Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg has refined over its 260 years. With its aspiration towards highest quality and purity, Nymphenburg still produces the paste by hand and does not, as is conventional practice, buy the semi-finished product in. The production process is complex and time-consuming. It takes around three years from the initial mixing of the porcelain paste to the end product.

Pure kaolin, washed and checked in accordance with strict specifications by Nymphenburg, grey feldspar and opaque quartz of the highest quality from Norway are the basic components used for Nymphenburg porcelain. They arrive at Nymphenburg as a powder and are stored in wooden sheds before they are finally mixed according to secret formulas that ensure the smoothness so characteristic of Nymphenburg. The particular mix ratio produces a particularly hard and translucent porcelain. Which is actually what causes the paints applied in fine brushstrokes to turn out so brilliantly. In grinding mills dating from the 19th century, the future porcelain paste is mixed for two days and two nights and then pressed through a net which is finer than a nylon stocking to remove even the last of the coarse particles. Then magnets are used to remove even the smallest of metal particles that might cause discoloration and the paste is mixed with agitators in wooden vats. From there, it is sent to the press, which extracts the water from the paste and presses it into slabs. These slabs are then stored Nymphenburg's ageing cellar until it is ready for processing – which takes several years. Then it is kneaded to remove the air, after which the paste is finally sent to the manufactory's potter's shops for production.

The procedure of ventilation and homogenization, which is decisive to the further processing of the paste, is carried out manually with a clay-kneading machine. The benefit that this time-consuming process delivers: the resulting paste is more elastic and may later be shaped into the wafer-thin objects for which Nymphenburg is famed. In contrast, the pressure that a vacuum extruder applies to the paste to extract the air has a negative effect on texture and smoothness. No machine is able to create the delicacy that the manual work produces.

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The Nymphenburg Movie

A unique visual tour through the Nymphenburg ateliers.

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Water power

Even today, all mechanical equipment at the listed and protected buildings of Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg is powered by the water which runs from the estate's stream – just as it was in the 18th century.

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Paste mill

The production of the correct mix of kaolin, feldspar and quartz is an art that Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg has refined over its 260 years.

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Turning shop

All round parts – plates, bowls, vases – are made by hand on potter's wheels and, not as in other companies, on roller machines.

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Model shop

The model shop lies at the heart of Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg. This is where the plaster moulds for casting and drying all porcelain parts that are not round are made.

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Model & mould archive

More than 30,000 shapes are stored at Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg's model and mould archive.

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Moulding shop

All pieces that cannot be shaped on the potter's wheel are cast by hand. To this end, the so-called "slip", the liquefied porcelain paste, is filled in plaster moulds, which may be used up to 15 times.

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Luting shop

Many figures and objects by Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg that are made up of many parts are given their final shape at the luting shop.

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Paint laboratory

Nymphenburg's paints are famous for their brilliance, purity and rich variety of shades.

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Kiln

In the production of high-quality Nymphenburg porcelain, the process of firing is at least just as important as the balanced composition of the basic materials.

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Painting

The designs are Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg's signature. Hardly any other manufactory has such a wealth of motifs and opulence in its range.

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Underglaze painting

The technique is still employed to the highest perfection by Nymphenburg's masters to decorate many animal sculptures and figures.

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Gilding

The gilded areas and platinum ornamentations are dull and lacklustre when they leave the kiln and so must subsequently be buffed up with the help of agate and haematite.

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Majolica

Nymphenburg majolica is unique in the world. Nymphenburg has been producing majolica figures and tiles by hand using traditional methods for around 160 years.