Do you collect anything? Besides books, I mean 😉
Willa Carson from my Hunt for Justice series does. She collects Herend porcelain figurines painted in the fishnet pattern. Her collection sort of started by accident. She inherited Aunt Minnie’s collection. The same Aunt Minnie who gave Willa and George their house, Minaret.
Aunt Minnie named each animal figurine in her collection. A collection so whimsical, Willa calls it a zoo.
The figurines have clearly taken on a special meaning for Willa:
“I picked up Otto, the magical raspberry unicorn. I closed my eyes and made a wish, rubbing his pointed gold horn with my finger. Aunt Minnie told me once that Otto had the power to make wishes come true.”
– Twisted Justice
Willa Carson is in good company when it comes to her fondness for Herend porcelain. Queen Victoria used to dine on Herend porcelain, and Princess Diana loved receiving Herend porcelain in her Christmas stocking.
So What’s The Big Deal? A Few Fun Facts About Herend Porcelain:
- Herend is the biggest porcelain manufactory in Europe, known worldwide for its supreme porcelain, also called “white gold.”
- Herend Porcelain Manufactory, founded in 1826, is a Hungarian manufacturing company based in the town of Herend.
An aerial photograph of the Herend Porcelain Factory
- When Queen Victoria purchased a large set for Windsor Castle in 1851, Herend porcelain became a hot commodity for aristocrats all over Europe. It’s still popular among royal families today.
The gold medal-winning pattern purchased by Queen Victoria. Hence the pattern’s name, “Viktória”.
- The products are made from hard-paste porcelain using a mixture of kaolin, feldspar, and quartz.
- The fishnet design that Willa collects started in 1874 when a Herend painter saw a Chinese plate’s fish scale design, and became inspired to paint a similar pattern onto a rooster figurine to imitate feathers.
- Popularity for the animal figurines took off in the 1930’s.
- From what I understand, the process of creating Herend porcelain goes something like this:
1. The porcelain is cleaned, decorated, and dried.
2. The piece is fired at 830 degrees Celsius (1,526 degrees Fahrenheit). This is as hot as lava.
3. The piece is dipped in a glaze.
4. The piece is fired again at 1410 degrees Celsius. (2,570 degrees Fahrenheit) This is hot enough to melt most glass.
5. An artist paints the piece by hand.
6. The piece is fired either one or two more times, depending on whether it was painted with colors or with gold.
In my legal thriller Secret Justice, we get the feeling that the Herend figurines are much more than just a collection of expensive things. To Judge Willa Carson, they’re almost like muses.
In an evening of serenity and in an attempt to clear her mind one night, Willa brews tea, lights a fire in the fireplace, and selects one of the animals from her Herend collection to share in her contemplation:
“Tonight, I chose Aunt Minnie’s blue cat, stretched out and lying down, looking as if she was as content with life as a cat could possibly be. Seeking some tranquility myself, I settled in with her, picked up my journal and began to write down everything I knew about Ron and Margaret Wheaton.”
– Judge Willa Carson, Secret Justice
Herend Porcelain Manufactory operates the Porcelain Museum of Herend at its site in Hungary. The museum opened just before World War I, and it’s where the first pieces of Herend porcelain were made.
Now I just need a reason to get Willa to Hungary so she can visit this museum. Hmmm….maybe I need to go first….Have you been there?