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What do you need to paint Delft blue?

A jar of muddy water, two brushes, a pencil and a palette with a big dot of dark paint. As non-professional painter you might get a tad bit nervous at the sight of these materials. Especially at a Delft porcelain workshop. No pressure! This is going to be fun. Let’s see: what do you need to paint Delft blue?

In front of Rembrandt’s Nightwatch in blue. During a tour at the Delftware factory. Courtesy picture Frank Verhoeven

How to become the Vermeer of Delft Blue

In the workshop you will be painting your own Delft blue pottery. You can choose between a plate, a tile or a vase. Is this the first time in the royal earthenware factory and have you never before done this craft activity? Pick a flat, rather big object.  The master painters you see in their own workshop have years of experience. You can see their steady hand and craftmanship in their work. With ease they paint in miniature, following the curves of the material and focus on the tiniest of details. Practice and you could become the Vermeer of Delftware yourself. For now start big and try to keep your subject as abstract as possible. Trust me, I speak from experience.

Delft blue painting workshop group activity
During a Delft blue painting workshop

Think big & become the Vermeer of Delft blue

Delft blue tile painting
From big to small: Delft blue tile painting. Courtesy picture Frank Verhoeven


What is the secret of the Delft blue factory?

What you need to paint Delft blue is a good mood. To get in a really good mood, before you start hand-painting your typical Dutch tile, have a high tea. Sit down in the part of the tea room where you have a view on the courtyard. Now this Delftware factory used to be in the city centre. It was one of the 32 studios specialised in painting blue-white porcelain. Since 1916 the Delft potters use this building. This building is a pearl. On request the multilingual staff can tell you much more about its history and show you the secrets in the interior.

Result painting Delft tile in courtyard of architectural ceramics. Courtesy picture Frank Verhoeven


Where you get high tea in a Delft blue cup

The nice part is: you can get a peek into this architectural ceramics delight for free. Without paying entrance you can visit the tea room of the earthenware factory and see the beautiful historical inner garden. Now of course I do recommend to at least have a cup of coffee, take a tour through the museum or savour a high tea. The high tea is served in the original Delft blue pottery.

High tea in Delft group outing idea
High tea in a Delft blue cup.  Courtesy picture Frank Verhoeven

How to recognise Delft blue pottery?

Original Delft blue ceramics has a hallmark on the back of the product. Take up your cup and have a look. In the case of this royal factory you see an apothecary bottle and the initials JT – Joost Thooft-. Then there is the word Delft with the code to indicate the year and the master painter’s initials.  Using all this exquisite tableware makes you feel quite royal.

how to recognise Delft pottery
This beautiful tableau shows the hallmark of Joost THooft: JT, the apothecary bottle & the word Delft

What you need to paint Delft blue

Back to what you need to paint Delft blue. For this creative workshop you’ve picked a plate or tile. Now you can choose if you want to decorate your pottery freestyle or use a ready- made image. The latter means one of the members of the staff will do a charcoal transfer. They have images of the kissing couple, a windmill and other Dutch icons. Already have your own idea for a pattern? Take the pencil and draw your own creation! None of the pencil lines or charcoal can be seen after baking, so go ahead and have fun!

Which patterns can i choose from in Delft blue painting workshop
Patterns & designs for Delft earthenware
Master painter showing design he’s working on
Designing your own Delft blue tile.

How to get a different shade of Delft blue

On a palette there’s a dot of black paint. Find a piece of broken Delft pottery. It should be near the painting material. Take up the thin haired brush. This is the one you use to steadily draw your outlines. With the thicker haired brush you color your pattern. To create different shades, you need to mix a bit of the black paint with water. Be careful at applying the paint to your earthenware, the paint is permanent.

 become the Vermeer of Delft blue team building
A palette of Delft blue paint with 2 brushes and in the corner a piece of broken tile to practice on

How to get the Delft blue color

The last thing you need to paint Delft blue is an oven. Baking it causes a reaction between the clay, the varnish and the paint. The result: the authentic, one and only Delftblue color.  At the Delft blue painting workshop you hand your own hand-painted creation over to one of the staff members. They’ll put it in the factory’s oven and will send the finished product to you.

At the factory they also make typical Delft scenes. What is depicted here?

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