Saturday, February 5, 2011

Royal Blue

I never expected my young son to get so excited about fine china!  My daughter, sure – she’s always been a frilly lace, tea party kind of gal - but my son’s enthusiasm will ensure you that a visit to Koninklijke Porceleyn Fles factory in Delft, the Netherlands, is worth a tour with your family.

I once posted about how children love to know how things are made, and that it can be enlightening and fun to learn about how different places make something they are well-known for.  The Royal Delft porcelain factory tour leads you through every step in the process of creating their exceptionally fine ceramics.  We took the self-guided audio tour last summer.

Even if you’ve never heard of Royal Delft, or Blue Delft, you’re probably familiar with it anyway.  The beautifully hand-painted, blue and white images of windmills, tulips, sailing ships, and domestic life decorating plates, clogs, vases, and tiles are uniquely identified with Holland:

Seen it before?

There are three Delftware factories in the city of Delft, but we chose to visit Koninklijke Porceleyn Fles because it’s the most original.  Founded in 1653, it is the last remaining Delftware factory of the 32 that existed in that era, and it’s the official designer of Royal Delft for the Dutch royal family.  The factory is in a nondescript old building outside the city, but an easy walk from the town center.  

There were no crowds when we visited in the middle of the summer, so we effortlessly purchased our audio headsets and leisurely began our tour.  First we encountered actual artisans at work, hand-painting pottery pieces with exquisite detail, and learned that they must apprentice for at least 7 years before they can begin painting authentic Delftware.

We admired the museum's tremendous collection of antique Delft pottery, listened to the history of the art form, and discovered why it evolved almost exclusively in the small town of Delft.

One of the museum's most impressive pieces is a life-size re-creation of Rembrandt's famed "Night Watch" painted entirely on tile:

My 11 year old son's favorite part of the tour was watching the craftsmen on the factory floor, gently glazing and firing each individual piece of pottery.

And finally, I believe we spent at least an hour and a half in the souvenir store, agonizing over which piece of (very expensive) Royal Blue Delft we wanted to take home.  My daughter chose a thimble for her collection, and hubby and I decided the most we could afford was a 5 inch diameter plate.  Small, but lovely, it hangs proudly on our wall as a memento of our visit to Delft.

Related posts:
Chocolate Making in Broc, Switzerland
Wooden Shoe Making in Gouda, the Netherlands
Cheese Making in Gruyères, Switzerland
Violin Making in Mittenwald, Germany
Glass Making in Murano, Italy


  1. Hi Sonja,
    I'm your Blogging Buddy from Blogelina and your newest follower. What a very interesting blog. I enjoyed reading it. If you get a minute hop over to my blog and follow back.

    Have a super day,

  2. Yours are a good age for a visit to the factory. I've taken mine into the Delft factory a few years ago. They were much to young for that to be a pleasant experience for me. Though they didn't break anything, I thing I'll wait a few years before trying that again.

  3. Very good point, Monique. Guess the kiddies should be a little older for this field trip! :)


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