All the Little Animals

My name is Ariel Bowman. I opened Porcelain Menagerie as an Etsy Shop in Spring of 2012. I received my BFA in Ceramics from the Kansas City Art Institute. To make these animals I combined the mold making techniques I learned at school with my study abroad and research trips in Europe.

The very first animal figurines I made during my study abroad trip to Hungary with KCAI. These consisted of seven rabbits with different surface treatments. The tours of the Herend Porcelain Factory in Hungary opened my eyes to the methods of mold making for animal figurines.

Animal figurines in the showroom at Herend

I have always loved porcelain animal figurines. My tours of the porcelain factories in Europe have only expanded my knowledge and respect for this traditional craft. Since graduating I have also toured the Sevres factory in Paris, and the Meissen factory in Germany. All of these factories still use skilled craftsman to sculpt, mold, assemble, and decorate each object by hand.

Here the modeler at Meissen Porcelain Factory in Germany creates the stump for this standing figure. It is the modeler’s job in the factory to assemble sculptures from different molds, as well as sculpt any additional items individually like flowers.

Meissen is most famous for a series of pieces called the Meissen Animals. These sculptures were much larger than the average figurine. Commissioned by Augustus the Strong in 1721, these sculptures remain an amazing accomplishment in the history of ceramics.

The goal of Porcelain Menagerie is to make original animal figurines more available to everyone. With the same techniques used in Europe I have created unique sculptures that I hope everyone can enjoy in their collections and homes. Each one of the animals in my Etsy shop was made by me and by hand from original design to finished glaze and decoration.

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