Thursday, January 21, 2010

Royal Delft

With Kirk's busy season in full swing we are sticking closer to home for our weekend jaunts. More last minute trips as we see how his work week shapes up. This particular weekend we decided we were due a trip to Holland, so we headed to the 'Low Country' for two days and a night. First stop, Delft. Delft has two claims to fame. It is the birthplace of the artist Jan Vermeer. It is also the home of Royal Delft Porcelain.It was a blustery, snowy weekend so there weren't too many tourists out and about. We went to the Royal Delft Porcelain Factory. And thankfully we were the only folks in the entire museum. Except of course for the Delft master who showed off his painting skills.
The colorful abstract sculpture at the entrance was a work of art. We knew with a greeting like this we were in for a treat.
We didn't have to wait long to see the distinctive blue-and-white earthenware. The lobby held many gorgeous pieces.
But Connor was oblivious. She went straight for the Delft-logo'd bouncy ball. Why they would have this right next to the fragile porcelain pieces is beyond me. We made it without any breakage, by the skin of our teeth!
And started our tour...
We saw a movie detailing the meticulous methods of old still used on Delft porcelain. Every piece of true Delftware is hand-painted by skilled craftspeople. The method is traditional and painstaking. And it takes a decade of apprenticing to be considered a Delft "master" painter.
Delft potters have been at it since the 1640s. Every year they make a special Christmas plate. Here was their annual collection on display.
My favorites were the Christmas plates that featured the Star of Bethlehem.
We met a Delft master and saw him in action. The famous Delft Blue is actually painted with a paint that starts off black. It turns blue in the firing process. This master said it would take him 90 minutes to finish one vase.
There were some very unique pieces...
...with some especially unique pricetags!
Vermeer's paintings on tiles were a popular theme.
You know you are not in a land governed by OSHA when you go unchaperoned into a famous factory like this one. We were able to get up close and personal with the pottery waiting to be fired and the kilns waiting to be filled.
We held Connor close. She could have done some damage here left to her own devices.
The Delft cow was a hit!
Here are the four stages of a Delft vase.
The last part of our tour was the gift shop (naturally!) My teeth almost fell out when I saw the prices. Pricey stuff. I bought a flower holder from the "sister" company and was happy to have a memento without making an investment! It may not have the official Royal Delft stamp, but I bought it there so that has to count.
I will never look at the blue porcelain with naive eyes again!

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