History of Dutch tiles, it all began in north Africa
Even Pharaoh’s used glazed tiles to keep the wall’s dry and clean and this unique technique came from the north of Africa to Europe, in Italy they approved it and it spread out from south up to the north all over Europe. At the end of the 16th century production started in large quantities in Friesland, fishing boats brought fish to the Harbor of Harlingen and loaded tiles as cargo and soled it on the way back home all along the west coast of Europe. Delft concentrated on pottery and Friesland on the production of tiles, it was the top in quality and quantity.
Production with wet clay
The tiles are still produced from wet clay, dried for about 304 week and burned as Biscuit just like they did 5 centuries ago. The tiles get their look because they dried on wooden shelves touched by hands this makes the Friese witje so desirable.
Specially the old tiles are loved by collectors, they pay a lot of money for the right tiles that is missing in their collection. The technique was so good that up to now it did not change much, the clay, the glaze and the painter still use the same Faïence technique after 500 years.
Burning the tiles
Now the tiles are not burned in wood fired ovens but in gas ovens, it makes the tiles stronger and keeps the tin glaze colours better under control in the second burn.
The first burn is to produce the tiles and the second burn to finish the tiles with tin glaze and to melt the paintings in the glaze.
More information you find in the page “White tiles”
The ceramic painters still use the same Majolica technique with authentic mall’s from the old paintings as study material to assure that the look of all paintings is like the old motifs. Every painter has his/her own speciality, one is very good in painting ships and the other is better in painting floral paintings or animals.
All paintings are painted in fresh glaze, then the tiles are burned for the second time, the paint and glaze melt together as one cover over the tiles to never fade away any more.