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Netherlands Revenue Drops Putting Delftware At Risk
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Story By: Larry Stine



  Originally Published on: 9/1/2013

Delftware has been a mainstay of Dutch households for more than 400 years. And these blue and white ceramic pieces are internationally known icons of the Netherlands. But slipping revenues are putting the pottery at risk. Isa Soares takes us inside a factory in Delft. For 12 years, this has been Huib's profession, finessing, caressing and perfecting each piece. "You make a product from beginning to the end so you see something growing, developing, becoming something from clay to something beautiful," says Huib van der Ende, a craftsman. "It needs to be perfect, you cannot do it 90 percent, it needs to be 100 percent for sure." The craft behind Royal Delft has changed little since 1653. Today, their concerns are financial. With the economic crisis forcing them to seek new sources of revenue. "For 20, 40 years, of course, this was only a production company selling its products to shops all around Holland, but because we only produce our product in Holland because of wages, the prices were becoming too high, and then, of course, then we have to develop new techniques to get customers," says Henk Schouten, Royal Delft Group Chief Executive Officer. "We are now officially the centre with our own shop, also a museum, and also an attraction where people can see how this product is made." For the visitors, the tour of the manufacturing plant is an eye-opener. It all begins with the pouring and moulding. After an hour, it's cleaned up, smoothed down and ready for firing. Then, the time-consuming work starts, as the artists' brush brings it to life. "To become a master painter requires patience and craftsmanship. It is a painstaking process," says CNN's Isa Soares. "In the first year, you must learn the simple, the very basic techniques. "The next four to five years are spent mastering the Delft designs, the Delft decorations," she says. "It's only after an additional four to five years that you can call yourself a master painter." "Let's just say I may be here for a while," says Leo de Groot, a master painter. Leo is one of eight master painters. He's been here for 15 years. For those only just learning this art, there's the added pressure of keeping the picture alive. Showing that behind every brush stroke, there's more to Delftware than just blue and white.
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