The craftmanship of Royal Delft

handmade since 1653

Introduction

Royal Delft is the only remaining, original Delftware manufacturer from the 17th century. At the end of the 18th century, less attention was paid to Delft Blue, reason for which almost all potteries were forced to close down. When Joost Thooft took over the factory in 1876, he improved the production process in such a way making an even more beautiful and high quality product which brought Delfts Blue into a revival. Up to the present day Royal Delft uses this method of producing which is the worldwide standard of nowadays Delft Blue.

How a vase is made

The production process step by step

Handmade since 1653

Stage 01 - The raw materials

Stage 1

The production process of Delft earthenware starts with the composition of the clay. It is made up of about 10 raw materials, of which kaolin, chalk, feldspar and quartz are the most essential. The raw materials are carefully mixed with water until they become a liquid mass.

Handmade since 1653

Stage 02 - Pouring the clay

Stage 2

The liquid clay is poured into plaster moulds, which are hollow inside and consist of several pieces. The inside of the mould has been filled up with the clay. The porous plaster sucks up the water from the clay, leaving a layer of dry clay on its interior walls. When the clay has reached the right thickness, the liquid surplus is poured off.

Handmade since 1653

Stage 03 - Sponging

Stage 3

After some time, the clay is hard enough to be taken out of the mould without being deformed. After  air drying, the seams or irregularities have been carefully removed. A secure work that determines the final shape of the vase.

Handmade since 1653

Stage 04 - Spraying & Firing

Stage 4

The vase gets a special layer of liquid clay called ’engobe’ After that the object is put into the kiln to be fired for the first time, at a temperature of 1160°C (2120°F). After 24 hours the body, which is now referred to as  'biscuit', is taken out of the kiln.

Handmade since 1653

Stage 05 - Decorating the vase

Stage 5

The Delftware painters then paint the traditional Royal Delft decorations on the articles entirely by hand. This is done with brushes made of the hairs of martens and squirrels, and black paint containing cobalt oxide. The cobalt brings about a chemical reaction during the firing process, changing the colour from black to blue.  The paint is based on water, enabling the painters to create various shades of blue by adding more or less water.

Becoming a master painter at Royal Delft is an internal training course which takes about eight years. After that they are able to decorate and design according to the Royal Delft DNA.

Handmade since 1653

Stage 06 - Glazing & Firing

Stage 6

The decorated pieces are then glazed. This is done either by dipping into the glaze or by spraying. The glaze covers the decoration with a non transparent layer of white. Now the vase will be fired in the oven for 24 hours. During the second firing process, which is done at a temperature of 1200 °C (2192 °F), the glaze melts into a translucent layer of glass and the black paint turns blue. A chemical and physical reaction between the clay, engobe, paint and glaze is decisive for the typical Delft Blue colour.

Handmade since 1653

Stage 07 - Quality above all

Stage 7

The final step of our production process is the quality check. Every piece is inspected from top to bottom to decide it can be put to sale as a “Premium“ Royal Delft product. A genuine Royal Delft piece can be recognized by the hand painted signature on the bottom of the vase; the initials JT, the pharmacy bottle and the word “Delft“.