Sunday, July 10, 2011

An Amazing Ship and Royal Delft

We traveled to Dordrecht to look up the replica of Noah's Ark that was built there.  We couldn't believe our eyes when we saw the massiveness of this re-creation of the original Biblical ark. 

The information we read indicated that the builder used the exact Biblical measurements to ensure authenticity.  He spent upwards of 10,000 euro to duplicate each of the animals true to scale.  An elephant was standing at the back of the ark.

Up front was a large giraffe.  I guess they were the lookouts.  We weren't allowed to go inside, but the article we read indicated there were individual stalls for each pair of animals.

The ship is sitting in an inlet of the Maas River while it is being completed.  I couldn't believe how HUGE it was!  It was difficult to get the entire ark in the picture.

There are some things that just don't compute in my brain.  Such as why a person would spend so much time and money on a project like this.  Does he have inside information that it is going to be needed in the near future????
  Maybe we should get to know him on a close-friend basis (just in case).

Our next stop was the Royal Delft factory in the city of Delft, Holland.  It is the only remaining place where genuine Delft porcelein is produced in the city of the same name. 

Traders who went to the Orient learned to love the beautiful porcelein made by the Chinese.  When they returned to The Netherlands they started the Royal Delft Porcelein factory in 1653 and it has continued in business to the present day.

This vase has a strong Oriental influence.  The blue color is actually black when painted on the pre-baked clay.  After firing the black color turns to various shades of blue, depending on how much water is added to the paint.

Beautiful murals lined the walls.  Each individual tile was painted and fired, then assembled together to complete the scene.

In Holland it is illegal to kill the wild swans.  This mural was a depiction of that occurrence.

It was incredible to learn that this recreation of the Night Watch took three men two years to paint.  Each individual tile was painted and fired, then assembled together.  I couldn't figure out how they knew exactly what each piece needed to have painted on it in order to fit exactly into the tile next to it. 

Some of the antique china hutches were as valuable as the dinnerware inside.

Not all Delft is blue and white.  Some lines (such as Maakum) are painted in additional colors as well.

These pieces with red colors reflect their Chinese heritage.

The queens of Holland have all had their portrait done in Delft china.

This plate was created for the crown prince - William Alexander.

If you want to insure that you are purchasing genuine Delft porcelein you look for this inscription on the back of each piece.  It means that it is hand-painted and made to the finest specifications.

We walked through the factory and saw each step of the process from the forming of the clay to the first firing of individual pieces.

Molds are used to form the individual pieces.  The clay is poured into the mold and allowed to harden.

After it hardens workers smooth off the rough places and gently sand away any imperfections.

There were hundreds of pieces waiting to be painted and fired.

This picture gives us an idea of how each piece goes through the various stages of completion.  The vase second from the right shows the black paint that is used.  It takes seven years for an apprentice artist to be certified.  They paint each small pedal and leaf by hand.  It would require immense patience as well as exquisite artistic talent. 

Many of the plates depict scenes of life In Holland during past centuries.

Elder Beckstrand is looking at some of the history of this Dutch art form.

Here is a vase in various stages of completion.

Hey!  Haven't you always wanted a porcelein, hand-painted cow with blue and white flowers on it?  I wonder how they fitted her in the kiln?

We looked at the prices of some of these pieces in the showroom and decided they were not for paupers like us.  The large platter in the center was over 2,000 euros.  Just a normal sized plate ran around 400 euro.  I can't imagine spending that kind of money for a piece of genuine Royal Delft and then worrying about how to get it back across the ocean in one piece.
It would not be worth the strain on my nerves (even supposing I had that kind of money!)
Bottom line: Very pretty, but alas, not for me.

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