Regretably Hummel ceased operations in Germany late in 2008. We haven't been able to confirm if administrators restarted the business. We also have been unable to find a reliable supplier of these genuine articles. We are still making enquiries.
We apologise for being unable to continue with any further web sales. Please feel free to browse at some of the products we once stocked. From time to time for those visiting our shop, we may have some items available.
Hummel figurines are named for Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel (born Berta Hummel), although they resulted from a partnership between Sister Maria and W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik. M. I. Hummel figures appeared in 1935, but the story begins long before that year.
Berta's artistic ability was noticed early. The Sisters, in the Catholic school she attended, first noticed her artistic abilities at the age of six. At twelve, a teacher was instrumental in convincing Berta's father (an artist himself, who was never able to develop his own career), to send her to the Institute of English Sisters at Marienhoehe. It was a boarding school and a financial burden for her family, but her father was determined she should have the chance.
At Marienhoehe, she learned to work in watercolors and pastels. Sister Stephania helped to get Berta enrolled at the Academy of Applied Arts in Munich when she turned eighteen. She studied traditional art, but never lost her love of sketching Bavarian children.
Berta designed vestments and altar clothes, but she still had plenty of time to sketch her beloved children. She was surrounded by children everyday while teaching art at St. Anna Girls School in Soulgau. Berta had taken the name Maria Innocentia when she received her black veil.
Sister Maria's work began being published in books and as cards. The profits helped support the convent.
On January 9, 1945, Sister Maria formed a partnership with Franz Goebel of W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik. This is considered to be the official birthday of M. I. Hummel figurines.
Working with the Goebel painters, Sister Maria helped to develop the colors that would grace figurines of her drawings. Franz Goebel personally supervised the creation of the Hummel line as he had promised. In addition, she would be allowed to approve each piece and her signature would appear on each piece (it does to this day, unless the piece does not have enough surface to allow it).
Hummel figurines were introduced at the Leipzig Spring Fair in 1935. The figures were very well accepted and attracted a lot of attention. However, World War II interrupted or at least restricted production of the Hummels. But, immediately after the War ended, interest picked up again.
Unfortunately, Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel contracted tuberculosis and died on November 6, 1946. She was 37 years old. Fortunately, however, Sister Maria was a prolific artist and she left a volume of unproduced artwork. This work and an Artistic Board appointed at the Convent of Seissen are the basis for Hummel figurines today.
Hummel figurines are processed in the following manner:
- Sculptors select a Sister Maria drawing and execute it in clay. This process can take weeks.
- Sculptors and moldmakers decide where the figurines can be cut. It might end up being an many as 40 pieces. These pieces are embedded in clay and plaster of paris is poured over them. Several positive and negative molds are made, until a durable acrylic resin mold is created. Then a plaster of paris mold is made, which can only be used for a short time before erosion sets in.
- Each figure is fired at least three times at high temperatures. First firing is 2100 F degrees. The figure becomes white bisque and it shrinks. It is then dipped by hand and sprayed with tinted glaze. Second firing is 1870 F degrees. It comes out glossy white. Then it is painted and fired at 1407F degrees.
- Liquid ceramic, known as slip poured into the working molds. The slip is made of kaolin, feldspar, clay, quartz and water. As the slip thickens, it becomes a hollow shell of the figuring.
- The pieces are joined using slip and then they are smoothed to hide the seams.
Each figure takes many weeks and as many as 700 operations to call it complete.
Below are some examples of these amazing figurines. Some are still on display in the shop today.