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Ceramiche Gialletti Giulio

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Founded in 1959 by the father/son team of Virgilio and Giulio Gialletti, this traditional Italian ceramics studio in the heart of Deruta is now run by third generation brothers Antonio and Carlo. Combining tradition with original, innovative designs, Gialletti Giulio draws on a rich history of majolica ceramics that has flourished since before the 13th century.

Maestro Franco Lamincia has been the master painter at Ceramiche Artistiche Gialletti Giulio since the company’s founding. In keeping with their motto, dove l’arte prende forma (where art takes shape), every piece is handcrafted from start to finish by their small team of artists. The clay is sourced from the surrounding hills, then goes through the entire majolica process of shaping, two firings and glazing by talented artisans, many of whom have been with the studio since the beginning.

The town of Deruta is itself a “living museum” of ceramic workshops that continue to produce traditional motifs with polished glazes in rich, saturated colors, and highly ornate designs. While visiting Deruta in June, 2013 a friend brought me to Ceramiche Artistiche Gialletti Giulio. On the day I visited, I met Michele who is a long time friend of Antonio and Carlo. Michele has worked for the family for 12 years. His job is to work with foreign customers (especially those like me, who speak very little Italian) and organize the shipments. It has been great working with Michele – he was friendly, polite, and very helpful as I worked to find my favorite designs.

I am honored to add the exceptional work of the Gialletti family to the Emilia Ceramics collection. I truly believe that it represents the best that Deruta has to offer. I love the way these pieces marry a refined, sophisticated look with the authenticity of visible brushstrokes and true Italian character. Enjoy!

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Gorky Gonzalez

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Gorky Gonzalez began his career as a painter and sculptor. However, in the early 1960s he came across an antique piece of pottery imported from the Mediterranean and began experimenting with the double glaze technique known as Majolica. The technique, traditionally associated with Spanish colonialism, had been abandoned in Mexico after they gained their independence in the 1820’s.

In 1965, Gorky was granted a scholarship to study pottery in Japan, under the famous artists Tsuji Seimei and Kei Fijiwara. While in Japan, Gorky met his wife Toshiko who returned to Guanajuato with him to open his own ceramic workshop. “The notion of rescuing a forgotten craft – especially one so beautiful – was impossible to resist,” said Gorky in 2002. His success and international recognition demonstrate the irresistible quality of the playful ceramics he has since created.

Gorky now has a team of assistants, including his son (also named Gorky) who goes by the nickname Gogo. Both father and son are exceptionally creative artists – adding their own personal (and at times very modern) stamp on an ancient technique, while maintaining elements of the Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and Indigenous-Mexican roots inherent to their craft.

Using clay extracted from the nearby Sierra de Santa Rosa (just like Indian ceramists long before the arrival of the Spaniards in the 1500’s), Gorky’s artists shape the pieces on the potter’s wheel, dry them in adobe-walled storerooms, and bake them in modern electric ovens. The painters use the same double-glaze technique of Majolica, made popular in Italy. While the process is the same and many of the designs are similar, Gorky has definitely put his own spin on the work.

Over the last 50 years, Gorky’s workshop has become one of the most important Majolica studios in Mexico. In 1992 the President of Mexico awarded Gorky Gonzalez the National Award of Sciences and Arts in the field of Popular Art and Traditions for “his exceptional contribution to Mexican popular art.” We’re happy to have become friends with the Gonzalez family and super proud to offer an extensive collection of their best work.

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Ceramiche Bartoloni

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Brothers Patrizio and Stefano Bartoloni started their ceramics business when they were 18 and 20 years old, respectively. At the time, their “studio” was a wood shed with a dirt floor in Capraia, a tiny village in Tuscany. When they outgrew that space, they moved to their current workshop in Montelupo Fiorentino, about 15 miles outside of Florence.

Patrizio is the more flamboyant painter, while Stefano does the intricate designs and lettering. Over the years, they have hired a few people to help run the business, but the Bartoloni brothers still do almost all the artwork themselves. Their parents have always been involved in the business and their dad still does some of the painting.

Many of the designs painted by the Bartolonis are well-known Tuscan favorites, such as the Limoni, Frutta Venezia, and Rooster motifs. We truly believe that Patrizio and Stefano are the most talented artists painting these designs today and that is why we are so proud to have their work in our collection! Their intricate patterning and rich details bring instant Italian charm to any space in the home.

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Sylvie Duriez

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I first met Sylvie Duriez at a pottery market in Marseille in the spring of 2007. She is a true artist, with little interest in sales or the hassles involved in exporting her work. Over the course of a few years and multiple visits to her studio, I’ve gotten to know Sylvie and discovered strategies to get her beautiful artwork back home for the Emilia Ceramics collection. If you ask my Sylvie-loving customers, however, I never seem to buy enough of Sylvie’s work… It always sells out so quickly! Sylvie’s painting technique is totally different from traditional Majolica. Instead of following specific and traditional designs, Sylvie paints freely, continuously changing her subjects and evolving her style. Her themes, from beautifully-painted floral bouquets to reclining French women, conjure up romantic images of fashionable Parisians and slow drives through the countryside of Provence. The subjects are not historic or monumental, but speak to the everyday and often fleeting moments to which we can all relate. Sylvie learned the ceramic craft from her mother, who is now retired but lives close by. She does the entire process herself, starting with the selection of clay and throwing each piece on the wheel. After a piece has been thrown and fired, Sylvie dips it in a base glaze. Once dry, she uses a sharp needle to sketch her drawing on the piece. She insists that she does not create a plan on paper first, nor does she copy a picture… she literally just goes to work with a needle, carving a very fine line through the base glaze. Then she uses mineral-based glazes to paint the piece in a soft, watercolor-like style. The finished product has a rustic, yet sophisticated and fluid affect. Each piece is like a magnificent watercolor painting, completely unique and telling its own individual story. I am always amazed by how much personality Sylvie is able to put into each one-of-a-kind piece.

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Ceramica Valenciana

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The full name of Ceramica Valenciana is La Cerámica Valenciana de José Gimeno, established in 1925. This family-run business makes a full range of Spanish ceramics. Most famous for tiles (known as Azulejos in Spain) and reproductions of traditional pieces from the 18th century, they also create many modern pieces, from lamps and canisters to dishes and bowls.

Ceramica Valenciana’s high quality ceramics has earned the studio a variety of honors and awards. They won the Manises “Qualitat i Disseny” award in 1994, 1997, and 2000; the Alfa Gold Award in 1980, 2000, and 2002; and the NOVA for craft (the highest award from the Generalitat Valenciana) in 2006.

But even with all these modern accolades, the artists at Ceramica Valenciana still stick to their traditional majolica methods. Pieces are all handmade and hand-painted, which gives every jar, plate, bowl, and vase a truly unique character. The workshop still occupies the original space and is an absolutely stunning building. The architecture is eye-catching and the perfect home for the seemingly endless amounts of ceramic masterpieces the artists create.

Ceramica Valenciana was one of the reasons I started Emilia Ceramics years ago. I love  how their ceramics combine tradition, innovation, and fun Spanish personality.

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Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia

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Founded in 1982, Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia is located in the picturesque hill town of Montelupo Fiorentino, about 15 miles southwest of Florence. Montelupo became a hub of decorative ceramics in the 13th century when Moorish traders, traveling to Florence along the old Roman road, passed right through Montelupo with ceramic wares from Spain. During the Renaissance, artisans in Montelupo began elaborating on the ceramic designs, adding realistic imagery and brighter colors, transforming these ceramics into the high art form they are today.

At Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia, five local artists work to recreate the centuries-old traditions of Montelupo ceramicists. The shapes, colors, and designs reflect a variety of influences including Arabic, Spanish, and Renaissance Italian.

The Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia workshop is surrounded by beautiful Tuscan countryside. On my last visit to Tuscia, I found three of the artists busy at work. The small building is like a museum, showcasing all the styles, sizes, and designs they’ve created over the years.

For me, Tuscia’s small workshop represents the best Italian ceramics has to offer. At Tuscia, artists are not just reproducing traditional ceramic pieces; they are creating their own unique artwork in a style that their ancestors have spent 600 years perfecting.

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Capelo

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In addition to his beautiful ceramics, Capelo is famous throughout Mexico for his architectural designs, oil paintings, and mixed-media sculptures. Currently, he divides his time teaching art classes at the nearby University of Guanajuato, managing the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and supervising a team of artists in his ceramic studio. The studio and his home are perched on a hillside above Guanajuato, with breathtaking views of the valley and city below.

Capelo’s ceramics are set apart by the soft, almost translucent glazes he uses. There is an especially unique and captivating quality to the glazes, which encourages you to touch, feel, and use Capelo’s pieces as often as possible. Recently, I asked Capelo what it was about his glazes that made them different. He replied simply that his glazes are all-natural and do not have any of the additives that cheaper, modern glazes contain.

The explanation fits the artist’s modest, no-nonsense personality perfectly. Capelo has refused to compromise or change his glazes or technique over the years. He does things the right way or not at all. I can personally attest to his seeming indifference when it comes to doing business — he is not a salesman, but a true artist focused on creating beautiful artwork.

Capelo has spent his life immersed in art and his work exemplifies both his perfectionism and his technical success. The fact that all his ceramics are one of a kind just adds to their charm.

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Angelica Escarcega

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Tucked away on a quiet, tree-lined street in the lively city of Guanajuato, Angelica’s modest home doubles as a gallery, filled with her expertly-painted ceramics. Inspired by nature, Angelica’s work often incorporates insects, flowers and fruit. On many pieces she applies a raised, 3-dimensional form, such as a pomegranate or butterfly, an effect that gives life to the object and the ceramic piece itself.

Angelica teaches art at the University and devotes her spare time to designing and painting her own distinctively beautiful ceramic pieces. The whimsical designs and colors Angelica uses are a testament to her creativity. Indeed, each piece is an original, with its own unique personality – a one of a kind gift, from Angelica’s home to yours.

We are currently sold out of Angelica’s work, but hope to get more in the future. Stay tuned!

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Patrice Voelkel

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On my second buying trip to Provence, I happened upon the picturesque home, studio, and shop of Patrice and Sylviane Voelkel. It is nestled in the awe-inspiring countryside near St. Remy (one of my absolute favorite Provencal towns), where I was staying at the time. I had planned a relaxed day exploring the region and was very pleasantly surprised to come around a bend in the road and see a large sign beckoning to me: POTERIE.

The shop was closed when I arrived, so I walked through the small courtyard filled with flowers and knocked on the front door of the house. Patrice answered and patiently listened to me, attempting to explain myself in French. He opened the store for me and turned on the lights, insisting the whole time that he did not speak English. But as my few French words ran out and he realized I was probably going to be a good customer, Patrice gained confidence and proved to speak enough English to answer all my questions. No translation was necessary when it came to his beautiful artwork — I fell in love with the rustic quality and rich colors instantly.

Patrice and his wife Sylviane work together. They use local black clay, which makes their ceramics very heavy! Their bowls, platters, pitchers, and vases are simultaneously contemporary and relaxed, a juxtaposition that is oh-so French.

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Richard Esteban

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Richard Esteban is a pretty big deal… at least in the ceramic world of Southern France. He became an apprentice at the age of 16, throwing pottery at Foucard-Jourdan, a traditional workshop in the famous ceramic town of Vallauris. He says the two old ladies who owned the workshop would walk around inspecting the work of the potters. If someone made a mistake on the wheel, the women would use their canes to crush the work, forcing the potter to begin again. Richard quickly learned precision on the wheel, but also developed an appreciation for the charm of slight imperfections!

Next Richard became an apprentice in Cliousclat Sourdive with Philippe, one of the few potters at the time to maintain the tradition of glazed pottery. It was there that he learned about using rich mineral-based glazes and firing in a wood oven, developing his uniquely whimsical style of decorating ceramics.

Inspired by both his teachers and visits to regional museums, Richard Esteban opened his own workshop in his home in the small town of Aigues-Vives. He continues to do everything the old way — using the rich red clay of Provence, he throws each piece by hand, dries them in the sun and fires them in an antique kiln.

While his work is definitely influenced by tradition, it is infused with a lighthearted and spirited charm that is totally unique to Richard Esteban. His beautiful workshop and storeroom is packed full of colorful works of art, along with about ten bird cages full of chirping songbirds. Every corner of his home, garden, and workshop is inviting, with the rich colors of red earth, lush plants, and warm pottery glazes. Needless to say, I consider it pottery heaven!

The first day that I came to Aigues-Vives, I was immediately invited to join Richard and his wife Sylvie for a hearty lunch of rabbit, potatoes, and the town’s red wine. Richard then gave me the grand tour and introducing me to his two employees: Arnaud, who works at the potter’s wheel (pictured here goofing around with a recently thrown bowl), and Katia, who manages the store-room and does some of the intricate design work.

I believe Richard’s kindness and enjoyment of life is infused into his work. Each bowl, pitcher, and platter is a one of a kind expression of Richard and his team — you can literally see and feel the love that they put into each piece.

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Poterie Ravel

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Most famous for their terracotta pots, Poterie Ravel sells to luxury hotels and restaurants throughout France and around the world. However, they also excel in hand-crafted pitchers, vases, platters, and bowls, sold exclusively from their studio in Aubagne.

Founded in 1837, Poterie Ravel is a 5th generation family-run business. Now owned and run by two friendly sisters, the company remains focused on their tradition of high quality craftsmanship. Each piece is stamped with the Poterie Ravel logo and the initials of the individual artist who made it.

I visited Poterie Ravel for the first time in the spring of 2007 and was impressed by their incredible range of ceramics. The showroom is spacious and the workshop bustling. Whether it’s large pots or small bowls, each piece shows a dedication to detail and the perfect balance of a traditional and modern charm.

On my most recent trip to France I really enjoyed talking with co-owner Marion (who speaks perfect English) and attempting to communicate with a few women working in the showroom that day. I am thrilled to finally add Poterie Ravel’s beautiful work to the Emilia Ceramics collection and expect to add much more in the future.

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Talavera Vázquez

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Talavera Vázquez is a fourth generation family-run business located in the small town of Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico. Felipe Vázquez Gutiérrez, who started the business 90 years ago, was known as a pioneer in the pottery world because he introduced new and unconventional artistic designs, while continuing to adhere to traditional techniques of high quality craftsmanship.

Today Talavera Vázquez employs five talented designers who create innovative shapes and styles that truly set their pottery apart. Bringing these designs to life are two artists responsible for throwing the clay pieces and 12 more who hand-paint them.

What I love about Talavera Vázquez ceramics is the contemporary and fun twist they put on traditional patterns. Their tibores (ginger jars), vases, bowls, planters, lamps, and other ceramics feature bold colors that combine authentic Mexican flavor with modern sophistication.

As the business has grown, Talavera Vázquez has remained dedicated to its focus on originality, with talented designers encouraged to create their own unique styles. Each time I visit I am overwhelmed by how warm, welcoming, and friendly the family and small staff are — Talavera Vázquez is definitely a family-run business that I am proud to support and whose handcrafted artwork I am honored to offer my customers.

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