The Famous Delft Blue Pottery – As Street Art!
There was one negative thing about the efficient Dutch public transport network – it made me complacent. I thought I should go to Delft on my final weekend in the Netherlands, since it’s supposed to be a really charming Dutch city. Besides, having flown KLM a lot in a past life, there’s the name recognition as well. I associate Delft with Delft Blue pottery.
The fact that it was coming up to late November didn’t help. The autumn sky was dismal and the cold tends to make tropical ol’ me want to hibernate. Except that I can’t lay on the fat even if I tried, so I’m not actually very well suited to hibernation as a winter coping strategy.
By the time I summoned enough motivation to actually go, it was already past noon.
Can you do a day trip to Delft from the Hague?
The good thing about the efficient Dutch public transport network, is that this does not mean your day is a write-off. Despite starting out at noon, it is still very feasible to make a day trip to Delft from the Hague.
In fact, this lazy-ass day of mine is the go-to example I use to illustrate to people how easy it is to move across the Netherlands using public transport alone. Back home, and in most other places I know, this means that your day trip plan is not gonna happen – at least not by public transport.
But there, I had no doubt that I could get a route sorted on my mobile by the time I walked out the door of my hotel, and that there will be a suitable route back, and with time in between to wander around Delft a bit. I was so sure of this, that I got ready to go out, assuming this will happen. And it did.
No, getting there and getting back is not the difficult part of making a day trip in the Netherlands. Which day you’re going, is what you have to watch out for.
Things don’t open all the time in Europe
The thing you actually have to pay attention to, and the reason why you shouldn’t be like me and lazily start the day, are attraction opening times when you get to the place. The Netherlands is still Europe, not Asia. Things close earlier, or open later, than may be intuitive for some of us, especially if you’re thinking of going on a Sunday. Some places may not open at all.
Since I set out late, I knew that it was not realistic to fully explore Delft. I lowered my expectations to merely having a wander around. Maybe I could have fitted in a museum; but given that the ones I came across were near to closing time, I decided against it.
Instead, I spent my time in Delft walking through the streets and back lanes, and around the Town Hall plaza. Hoping that a random prowl might uncover something interesting.
And it did!
Delft Blue in the Delft streets!
Around Sint Agathaplein I stumbled across my first and unexpected encounter with Delft Blue pottery in Delft.
They’re hard to miss once you’re there; entire lamp posts were encased in blue and white porcelain. Each cylindrical segment had a different design, but quite recognisably ‘Dutch delftware’.
Charmed, I paid more attention, and was rewarded in the next step. Quite literally.
One of the brick faces on the street pavement, was not brick at all! At random spots, a Delft Blue ceramic tile had been swapped in. Amusingly, written on it were variations of words meaning ‘earth’ in different languages.
Delftware-inspired public art
In the back lanes in the area near the town hall, I found that some establishments had back doors which were painted with art.
One of the doors was particularly well done. It was not Delft Blue, obviously. However, it was painted in the style of Delft Blue ceramics. Since there was even a photogenic bicycle tethered in front of it, of course I had to take a photo.
Further away, across a canal and wandering towards Vaandelstraat, I came across a little square all strung up with Christmas lights. The sun had set, and so I saw the square with the full charm of the fairy lights.
But even better than that, was that the little square had a night light! I’m not kidding. There were bedside lamps, made of glazed ceramic, complete with lamp shade. Except that they were supersized, and served as public street lighting!
Wandering around, you can discover bits of interesting public art in Delft. They tend to be discreet, rather than attention seeking, and so reward the slow city walker. A mosaic of ceramic chips caught my attention, depicting archery within a forest scene.
Delft Blue pottery and Dutch humour
Dutch ceramic pottery craft really only took off in the Netherlands later in the 17th century, after the Dutch acquired the taste for Chinese porcelain, and after the Chinese supply was subsequently interrupted by politics. That was when they began developing the techniques and style that eventually became known as Delft Blue.
You can actually visit workshops in Delft to learn more about the tradition and craft of making Delft Blue pottery. If I had arrived earlier, I probably would be inspired to go to Royal Delft for a proper tour, after stumbling onto the first whimsical displays of Delft Blue as street art.
Even just walking around the shopping streets in The Hague, you can see just random ceramic tiles in window displays, among other bric-à-brac. While probably not officially counted as ‘Delft blue’, they often have something of the aesthetic.
Plus, a few are painted with a bizarre choice of imagery that’s kinda TMI… so if that sort of thing cracks you up, I recommend looking closely at the seemingly banal tile images. You’ll burst out laughing! From browsing through Dutch curio shops over time, I’ve come to expect this part of Dutchness that I just do not understand!
Carbon offset information to the Netherlands
A return flight between Kuala Lumpur and Amsterdam produces carbon emissions of approximately 8,224 lbs CO2e. It costs about $41 to offset this.
Inspired to wander around Delft and spot whimsical art? Pin and explore!