Thursday, November 24, 2011

Collectible Figurines

Figurines have for millenia been used to represent the form of human, animal or deity and have been presented in a variety of forms and materials - everything from glass to wood and infact any mouldable or carveable material.

From the ancient Jomon people of Japan to modern day sculptors, figurines perform the task of decoration very well, with many modern day brands emulating past sculptures and becoming very collectable as ranges. Collecting ranges of figurines is however a very modern trend, as it is only over the past 150 years that ranges like this have been produced.

Companies like Royal Doulton and The Willow Tree now produce figurines in bone china and willow wood of fine quality and utilising traditional techniques, the aim to feed the collectables market.  These types of collections are well sought out worldwide and have a great following.

Figurines are sometimes used in board games such as decorative chess sets or in role playing games. These types of figurines have their roots in religious significance as does the game of Chess itself.

The History of Figurines
The oldest figurines are made from ceramics, being several hundreds of thousands of years old and these usually took the form of religious or fertility figures. These early figurines usually took the form of a Goddess or hunting figure, with facial details only appearing from later Iron Age finds. These types of figurines give us the earliest signs of human culture and give us some sight into earlier cultures.

Development of the Figurine
Roman and Greek ancient civilisation started the development of figurines into major works of art. Depictions of warriors, Gods and Goddesses from these periods are still regarded as some of the finest pieces of figurine art even today, with these pieces fetching huge amounts of money at auction. These cultures developed sculpture and casting techniques to a very high degree, with these techniques still being used today.

Modern Day Figurines
Although modern casting techniques and materials technology can produce decorative figurines cheaply of a high apparent quality, traditionally produced figurines are still available utilising a range of natural materials.

These materials, such as the wood used to produce Willow Tree figurines have been used for millenia but because of their unique properties have survived to this day. Willow for example makes a perfect carving base for figurines as it has very close grain and is relatively hard wood, meaning less splitting and allowing the artist to carve complex and durable shapes.

Plastic moulding techniques are also used in the modern era, as well as plaster moulding and metal moulding, however finely hand crafted figurines utilising natural materials are always regarded higher as these can age and become 'heirlooms' over time, something which plastic moulded figurines are unlikely to emulate.

The Parsley Pot is a gift shop offering a wide range of high quality figurines and giftware.