Since 1957, Americans have been able to enjoy a little bit of Hungarian artistry, among their table settings and curio cabinets, with the beautiful, hand painted, white porcelain works of Herend.

Located just outside of Budapest, Hungary, Herend is Europe’s largest porcelain manufactory, and known for its fine, masterfully crafted pieces of dinnerware and figurines. According to the company, since its early beginnings, the porcelain dinnerware gained quite the following after Queen Victoria purchased a large set for Windsor Castle, Today that pattern is still being produced. Even the late Princess Diana was said to have delighted to Herend in her Christmas stocking. 

While East Texans may never be in the company of royalty (except for our very own Rose Festival Queen and her Court), they sure have been able to dine like them with the treasure trove of Hungarian pieces, painstakingly created by highly skilled molders, sculptors and painters, and always available for purchase at Cole and Co., in Tyler, Texas. 

In October, the store was one of three retailers in the state, and one of ten locations nationwide, selected to be part of Herend’s 2015 artist tour. The Herend Artist Event featured painter, Marianna Steigervald, who specializes in the company’s Oriental designs and has been mastering her craft with the company for nearly a quarter century now. Accompanying her on the tour was Herend’s Regional Sales Manager, Rob Springelmeyer. 

Together, they showcased the latest collection for Cole and Co. customers and took a moment to share on the art behind Herend and the secret to its success.

Q: How does an artist get to be part of the Herend family?  

Rob: Basically, they go through the regular schooling. Then they go to three years of painting school. That makes them eligible. Then they’re selected from their talent at that point. Another thing that’s interesting, Herend is a village outside of Budapest. A lot of the artists are third and fourth generation. In other words, they grow up learning it from their parents. It’s a prestigious position to be a painter for the people living in Herend. It’s a very desirable occupation.

Marianna: In my childhood, I liked drawing, painting, the arts, and I lived near to Herend, the next village to mine. That’s why, in fact, I went to the school there. The manufacturer has its own school and I went there for three years. Because I prefer the oriental designs, oriental style, I chose to paint and specialize in oriental designs, including of the figurines and the flowers.

Q: What’s been your favorite piece to work on? 

Marianna: It’s very, very difficult to say. I like a lot. I like the older designs. 

I like some flower designs. I like some figurines, but I prefer the oriental.”

Q: Do you have a favorite piece in the new Herend Collection? 

Marianna: I have a lot. I like the new platinum designs, with gray and platinum together. I think it’s a very nice design. And some figurines are very nice, I think. The falcon is my favorite piece. And I like the composition of the naturalistic and the surreal Herend’s signature, fishnet design combined with natural faced pieces.

Rob: It’s the first time, in a long time, that Herend has introduced a platinum design.

Q: How many pieces do you paint in a year? 

Marianna: I can’t tell you because some pieces take a very long time to do. Some pieces are quite fast. Sometimes I work on one small vase for one month.

Rob: Each artist has their own expertise, Marianna’s being the oriental dinnerware. Some of the artists might be more into the Queen Victoria pattern or the fishnet, or the natural. It depends upon what their expertise is in the factory, the painting area of what they do. There are also master painters, but some of those master painters will work on pieces for years, on commission pieces. It’s not uncommon for a big urn or a piece, rather, to take a year or more.

Q: Do pieces get retired? 

Rob: We do have limited edition pieces. The interesting thing about Herend, because it’s all completely hand done and hand painted, no dinnerware pattern is ever discontinued.  We can go back in the archives, and the factory will do anything that they’ve ever done. So, in reality, there really isn’t a discontinued dinnerware pattern. Now, there are figurines that are printed as limited edition pieces and they get retired.

Marianna: If somebody has very old pieces and it’s broken, we can do replacement pieces, always. Herend has this promise because it’s important if somebody has an old or big dinner set and would like a replacement. Yes, it’s something that is important.

Q: How do you come up with a design? 

Rob: The factory actually has design studios that come up with new patterns.

Marianna: We always have the model, a design that I copy and paint. I can’t paint a design that may pop up in my mind. It is very, very important that if I paint something a long time, it has to be all the same. It can not change.

Q: What makes Herend pieces so special? Why do you think people love Herend so much?

Marianna: The secret, I think, is the handwork, absolutely! Every piece is special and a little bit different. As I previously said, I paint identically, but each piece is a little bit different through the handiwork.

Q: Are Americans loyal Herend customers and what do you want them to know? 

Marianna: Yes, and I am very glad! I would like them to know how much work goes into each piece, and how the product came to be.


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