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Dreaming of painting on porcelain – Andrea Mai
Upon stepping through the door of the Meissen porcelain manufactory early this morning, artist Andea Mai fondly remembers her beginnings at MEISSEN. Her enthusiasm for painting had begun at an early age – and so her successful application to MEISSEN in 1989 marked the fulfilment of a great dream for hers.
During her first year of drawing school training, Mai quickly discovered her love of “Indian painting”. This style of painting is inspired by historical East Asian designs and takes shape in such patterns as “Ming Dragon” or Meissen’s “Onion Pattern”. Yet another dream Mai was able to realize.
Her enthusiasm for porcelain painting and her great talent soon enabled Mai to successfully further her training in other painting styles. After specialised training in rose painting, she became part of the newly founded department for modern patterns, where, for more than 10 years, she has been able to develop the full range of her skills.
With a great deal of experience from various disciplines, such as gold painting or landscape and figure painting, under her belt, Andrea maintains a plethora of techniques and very much enjoys the subsequent variety and flexibility of her day-to-day. Be it applying drawings to porcelain, painting according to strict guidelines as with “Indian painting” or freely composing and painting floral patterns – no two days are alike.
"For me as a painter, the most beautiful thing about my work is Meissen's incredible variety of patterns and the variety that comes with it."
With her wealth of experience in “Indian” and gold painting, Andrea Mai was given the opportunity to realize the newly developed "Noble Blue" décor on Meissen’s modern tableware series “N°41”. Given that the “Onion Pattern” – itself an East Asian décor which derived from “Indian painting” – inspired the modern pattern design for Meissen’s “N°41” series, Mai was the obvious choice. One thing that particularly spoke to Mai is the fact that “Noble Blue” can be combined in countless ways within the tableware series, but also with other porcelain pieces. Place, dinner and dessert plates all feature their own ornamental compositions, which result in striking, ever-changing arrangements when combined with one another. Another feature which resonated with Mai is the pattern’s modern and timeless design. The use of under- and inglaze paints makes all pieces dishwasher-safe, rendering the collection perfect for everyday use.
The combination of blue underglaze paint and the inglaze colours red and gold is what sets this decorative pattern apart. Only after the second firing, during which the cobalt blue has been sealed underneath the glaze, does Andrea Mai receive the “Noble Blue” pieces for further handling. Inglaze painting requires a great deal of skill, given the fact that the red and gold paints change their appearance during their subsequent firings as they sink into the glaze. Applying the red inglaze paint layer by layer to create the pattern’s decorative rim and painting on the gold neither too thin nor too thick is integral to the successful outcome. This delicate process is one that elicits a great deal of respect from any porcelain painter. The fact that Andrea Mai is able to execute a new decorative pattern so briskly, is not only a testament to the highest of craftsmanship and years of experience – it also represents the realization of her great dream of painting on porcelain. A dream she continues to live each and every day through numerous projects, each driven by the same amount of love and great passion.