Sunday, June 21, 2015
Delft Blue: The Centre of Dutch Porcelain
On our way back to Germany from Amsterdam we stopped in the small town of Delft for a few hours to see the town's world-famous porcelain manufacture. I’m not sure I ever would have visited had it not been for my mother’s suggestion, but I’m definitely glad we made the detour: Since Delft is less than an hour away from Amsterdam and even closer to Den Haag and therefore makes for a great day-trip option for those who want to see a little bit more of the Netherlands than just the big cities and I loved learning more about the town's hottest commodity, Delft Blue porcelain.
Unfortunately, we seemed to be visiting on the most miserable day of the year and with a sharp wind howling through the streets and the sky crowded with dark grey clouds that threatened to burst into rain any second, I found it a little hard to appreciate the charm of the city as much as I probably would have on another day. But I suppose that just means I need to visit again one day!
The historic centre is quite small, but filled with beautiful cathedrals and old houses, while little canals twist their way along the streets and since we visited so early in the day, the complete lack of other visitors resulted in quite a quaint atmosphere.
Delft has been the centre of Dutch pottery for many centuries and while there is only one factory left today where there used to be dozens, this hasn't had an impact on its cultural and historical relevance. There are a lot of little stores in Delft where you can purchase and browse the town's most coveted product, but I was curious to learn a bit more about the production and history of the porcelain and so I was excited to visit the manufacture.
The manufacture is about two kilometers away from the town centre, but easy enough to reach by foot - just don't be concerned when you suddenly find yourself in a residential area: The signs are right! While the main purpose of the manufacture is obviously to produce Delftware - an intricate and long-winded process that easily explains the insane price tags of true Delft Blue - there is also a small museum with a good and informative exhibition. I barely knew anything about Delft Blue before my visit, but the self-guided audio tour introduced me to many interesting facts about the trade and made me feel a lot smarter at the end of the tour.
The museum showcased different kinds of works, from objects made specifically for certain historic events to collaborations with contemporary designers, but my favorite part of the tour was seeing the manufacture hall.
We watched a short movie in the beginning of the tour that explained the whole production process and it was a little crazy to see just how many different steps go into the production of a (seemingly) simple piece of pottery. Each piece of Delftware is hand-painted and bears the mark of its artisan and Delft Blue on the bottom to distinguish itself from cheaper copies and while I haven't quite reached the stage of my life yet where I'm truly able to appreciate fine china (I'm sure I'll get there one day!), visiting the manufacture did leave me in more awe of the industry than before.
I loved getting a glimpse of another part of the Netherlands and our little foray away from Amsterdam certainly made me curious about what else this little country has to offer. And if you have any suggestion for places in the Netherlands that you love and that you think I should visit, please do leave them in the comments!
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