A Lesson in Perfection – Birlingham Box

Looking at a piece as exquisite as Chamberlain & Co's Birlingham Box it can be difficult to conceive how it was made. The shapely silhouette, the perfectly fitted lid and the ornate detailing are so impeccably integrated that one might easily imagine that it had just been formed whole. That, however, would be underselling the expertise, dedication and love that go into each and every one of Chamberlain & Co.’s handmade ceramics.

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. 23 karat gold is applied and burnished, tracing the glittering highlights of each design, adding a further layer of finery.


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