Gifts Today magazine

Chamberlain: a lesson in perfection

Fashioned from eight separate pieces of clay, Chamberlain & Co.’s new Birlingham Box takes 50 man hours to create, 26 hours to hand-paint and takes eight firings

Looking at a piece as exquisite as Chamberlain & Co's Birlingham Box (pictured)  it can be difficult to conceive how it was made.

The shapely silhouette, the perfectly-fitted lid, the ornate detailing, even the flawless paintwork, are all so impeccably integrated that one might imagine that it had just been formed whole. That, however, would be underselling the expertise, dedication and love that goes into each and every one of Chamberlain & Co.’s handmade ceramics.

Created using a balanced combination of time-honoured heritage craft techniques, in-depth knowledge of the science of ceramics and the latest technology, the Birlingham Box is part of the splendid new collection from ceramic specialists Chamberlain & Co.

Inspired by the porcelain that graced the court of King George III, the range is ornate, opulent and elegant, combining Regency splendour with the modern aesthetic to create a glorious hybrid of ceramic art. Fit for a king!

Fashioned from eight separate pieces of clay and supported by numerous others throughout the shaping and firing processes, more than 50 man hours go into ensuring that every Birlingham Box is as perfect as it is beautiful.

The finished profile may look effortlessly graceful, but it takes consummate skill to prevent the clay from following its innate tendencies and 'bellying' out; clay yearns to be rounded rather than flat.

In this design Chamberlain & Co's artisans are defying nature. It’s not surprising then, that so few ceramic boxes are available in such prodigious dimensions.

The Birlingham Box measures approximately 34cm x 23cm x 20cm – probably the largest ornamental cast ceramic box in made in the UK. Perfection is a demanding taskmaster.

Once the technical crafting and firing has been completed, Chamberlain & Co's artists spend a further 34 hours hand painting and gilding the glazed ceramic. 23k gold is applied and burnished, tracing the glittering highlights of each design, adding a further layer of finery.

It’s true that grace and charm ooze from every Chamberlain & Co. Birlingham Box, but effortless? It takes a vast amount of expertise to make it look that way.

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