Delft Blue Days at Royal Delft
One fall weekend each year, Royal Delft opens its doors to the community for Delft Blue Days. During Delft Blue Days admission to the Royal Delft factory is free (typically €13.50) and they host a variety of activities for adults and children. My dear friend Julia made sure we had it on our calendars this year. If you live near Delft it’s an event that is not to be missed.
Our lovely husbands organized to watch the children so that the ladies, Julia, Larissa and I, could head over to participate in the Royal Delft open painting workshop. At the workshop you are able to pay just for the piece you want to paint (starting as low as €10) and paint pottery in the traditional Delft Blue style. The paint goes on in shades of grey, but once glazed and fired comes out a brilliant blue.
Last year Julia took her girls (ages 7 and 5) to each paint a tile, but this year we made it a mamas event and hoped to paint some souvenirs to remember our time in Delft. Larissa and I painted before at the Delftse Pauw workshop on the north side of Delft.
We arrived just after 10am to Royal Delft, hung our coats in the coat room and headed upstairs to paint. You fill out a short form and pay for the piece you want to paint.
There are loads of patterns for you to use. The staff helps you do a charcoal transfer of the pattern onto your pottery piece as a guide for your painting. There are also guide sheets to show how the shading should look for it to come out as the hand painters at Royal Delft would do it.
Julia chose a traditional pattern of a bird and set to work. Although they were able to transfer the center of her plate as a guide, the rim had to be hand drawn by her. The painters helped her draw a guide line but then she was on her own to decorate the rim.
You can draw on the plate in pencil and it will burn off. However any of the black paint that touches the earthenware is there for good. Julia had the steadiest hand of the three of us and turned out a piece that is worthy of the gift shop.
Julia’s second piece was a traditional kissing couple tile, which she reproduced perfectly. I really think that if she wanted she could paint Delftware. We were all amazed with her ability to draw such perfect lines and get the paint just right. All while chatting with us!
Meanwhile, Larissa, my very talented artist friend hand drew three original pieces based on sketches from her sketch book. Her first piece was a tile for her cousin’s new baby. (I’m not posting photos since the tile is a gift and we don’t want to ruin any surprises.) Her platter was sensational. People were literally stopping by our table to watch Larissa at work.
Larissa’s third platter was a modern art-inspired piece. Watching Larissa work is truly inspirational. She does a quick sketch and then goes to work, taking photos to see it from a different angel. As her table buddy she did have to tell me to stop getting so worked up in conversation though, as I kept causing the table to shake. (Oops! Sorry Lis!)
Meanwhile I set off on my own journey. I had this crazy idea for a plate surrounded by Dutch houses, which of course I had to draw myself. It took quite a bit of coaching from Larissa and Julia, but an hour later I had penciled in houses all around the plate.
Then it was time to outline the whole thing with the darkest paint. This is seriously hard work.
Then it is time to shade. This for me is the hardest part. I have a hard time envisioning what this will will look like all blue. Here is what it looks like though when it’s all done – not very impressive in grayscale.
The workshops are popular and you can see that we were all cozied up with fellow painters. Everyone was so nice to chat with.
My second platter I decided to do an off-center flower. I found a pattern of one of the Royal Delft flowers and had someone help me chalk the stencil off-center for a pattern. I do not have as steady of a hand as Julia so I ended up having to flub it all a bit.
The final piece hopefully comes out as a modern interpretation of a traditional design.
With only an hour left I grabbed a small plate and drew a line drawing of one of the many church towers around here. I made sure to make it crooked for authenticity. (ha!) Clearly I’m into a more modern interpretation.
As painting wrapped up we got a final parting shot of our projects. A nice mix of traditional, modern and hey that girl sort of drew a church on her platter.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my time in Delft and do a little crafting. These are the sort of experiences you always remember.
I picked up my pottery a few weeks later and was over the moon excited with the outcome. I feel like I have some perfectly imperfect pieces made by me.
My biggest regret is not going back and painting on the second day of the open workshop as well!
If you live in Delft go ahead and mark your calendars for next year’s Delft Blue Days (typically the first weekend of November.) If you’re planning to visit Delft you can book a workshop at Royal Delft or Delftse Pauw.