Posted on

Part I: This Year’s Fresh Fall Designs

gray_zigzag_chevron_mexican_pottery_ginger_jar

It’s official – the weather is starting to change and I’m beginning to feel the transition to autumn. Every year around this time, I’m sad to have to say goodbye to the past few months of outdoor activities. The good news is I get to cozy up inside my home. As I do, I look for inspiration in the newest trends in décor.

This year, I’ve noticed a few fresh fall designs worth mentioning. The first…
Continue reading Part I: This Year’s Fresh Fall Designs

Posted on

Colorful Gorky Gonzalez Pottery

Catching up on some sales research this week, I found that colorful Gorky Gonzalez pottery is currently one of my best sellers. I’m not surprised. Gorky Gonzalez is the most well known of any of the artists I work with and his popularity extends across both Mexico and the U.S. Because other stores sell his colorful pottery, I strive to curate a unique collection of Gorky pottery for Emilia Ceramics. Nearly all the pieces I sell have been hand-picked during a visit to Gorky’s studio in Guanajuato, Mexico. When I do order from afar I am very specific with Gorky and his team about the designs and patterns I want. As a result, I am never disappointed with the colorful Gorky Gonzalez pottery I receive.

blue_white_mug_gorky_potterygorky_gonzalez_bowls

Gorky Gonzalez Pottery

Gorky pottery comes in two styles. Some people like to mix and match them, while others are more drawn to one or the other. The more traditional style is first dipped in a creamy, off-white glaze. Once that has dried, artists paint various decorations around the edges of plates and bowls, and sometimes add a center design. Many of the figures painted on these pieces have been influenced by historic Majolica tradition, like the rooster, which is very similar to what you see on Italian ceramics. Mexican influences can also be seen, both in the vibrant colors and in motifs like the Catrina figure. I love this melding of ceramic traditions and international influences; It’s a very unique element of Gorky Gonzalez pottery.

gorky_pottery_oval_dish_rooster

gorky_pottery_plate_catrina_skeleton

Gorky Pottery

Some of the traditional Gorky pottery is quite elaborate, while other pieces are subdued and offer a rustic simplicity. Many people like to mix and match their patterns so they can alternate daily between a plate with a fun fish motif and one with a carefree cowboy. Others like to set a stylish table with dinner, salad, and dessert plates that all match. Regardless, if you’re a fan of Gorky pottery, you’re most likely also a relaxed, creative person, who enjoys living an artistic and joyous lifestyle. I’ve never met a Gorky lover that I didn’t like!

gorky_pottery_plates

Gogo Pottery

Named after Gorky Gonzalez Jr. (who goes by the nickname Gogo), the more contemporary Gogo pottery is just as popular among my customers. While there are a lot of other plates, bowls, and mugs out there that are painted in solid colors, Gogo pottery is in a class of it’s own. These pieces have a soft, touchable element to them that is completely unique to Gorky Gonzalez pottery.

terracotta_cups_saucer_gogo_pottery

Their originality starts with the clay, which is made from local soil in the nearby Sierra de Santa Rosa. This clay (which has been used for centuries by Indian ceramists in the area) lends Gogo pottery it’s soft, porous feel. Next, artists hand-dip or paint the pieces in mineral-based glazes. The glazes really set Gogo pottery apart: soft, butter yellow, rich terracotta, fresh cucumber green, and deep navy blue. The chalk white has more dimension than you’d imagine and the cherry red is vibrant and festive. The entire process results in cheerful mugs perfect for your morning coffee, eclectic bowls to show off a homemade soup, and relaxed dinner plates worthy of a great family meal.

gogo_mugs_gorky_pottery

cucumber_green_plate_gogo_pottery

Do you prefer the traditional Gorky pottery or the contemporary Gogo pottery? Leave a comment below to tell us your favorites and how you use and enjoy your pieces.

Shop All Gorky Gonzalez Pottery Here >>

 

 

Posted on

Colorful Plates at Emilia Ceramics in Boulder, CO

Gorky Pottery
Do you use colorful plates or more basic, all-white ones?

Your everyday dishware says a lot about you. Plain white from Ikea probably identifies you as a college student or recent grad who’s not sure where you’ll be in a year. Fancy china received as wedding gifts means you’re traditional and sophisticated… or (more likely) that your mother/mother-in-law is traditional and sophisticated! Antique heirlooms demonstrate that you feel a deep connection to your family history. Fun and eclectic plates mean… well they most likely mean you’re fun and eclectic! Don’t even remember what your plates look like? That’s probably because you eat every meal out and haven’t used your own plates in years. At Emilia Ceramics in Boulder, Colorado, we cater to the fun, irreverent, colorful, and eclectic types. Those of you who love to discover cool, unusual pieces while traveling or just perusing your local hardware store. We sell colorful plates with personality that promise to add dimension and flavor to your meals. Here are some great examples of colorful plates at Emilia Ceramics in Boulder, CO:

Gorky Gonzalez Pottery

Nobody does colorful plates as well as Gorky Gonzalez. Whether you’re a fan of his traditional line featuring palm trees, birds, cactus, donkeys, and cowboys… or his more contemporary Gogo pieces that are glazed in solid colors, these plates will charm you and your guests. I love stacking the dinner, salad, and dessert plates with a variety of outside patterns. Mexican Plates by Gorky Gonzalez

The effect is eclectic and fun, very colorful, and adds so much personality to the table. Another great way to use Gorky Gonzalez pottery is by mixing decorative plates with the Gogo pieces. Not only are these plates super colorful, but they also have a rustic authenticity that can only come from handmade, hand-painted ceramics. And while Gorky pottery is available at other stores, Emilia Ceramics in Boulder, CO (and online) has one of the best collections of colorful plates made by Gorky Gonzalez.

Gorky Pottery

Shop Colorful Plates >>
Shop Gorky Gonzalez Pottery >>
Shop Gogo Mexican Pottery >>

Spanish Dinnerware

Also sold by Emilia Ceramics in Boulder, Colorado, the Spanish dishes by Ceramica Valenciana combine charm, simplicity, and an antique quality that is completely original. In fact, I would call the plates by Ceramica Valenciana our most charismatic. Choose between the snail, peacock, and bird motif… or better yet, combine all three.

Spanish Dishes
Spanish Dishes
Spanish Dishes
The pure white glaze on these plates gives them sophistication and offers a beautiful backdrop for whatever food you’re enjoying. The simple decoration around the edge, as well as the animal in the center, have a playful and dynamic feel. But my favorite part? How light these plates are. They have a weightless feel that reminds me of the antique china my family used on special occasions when I was young. The Spanish dishes at Emilia Ceramics definitely have that antique, heirloom quality to it. These are dinner and dessert plates that you’ll be passing down for generations to come. And isn’t that the true test of winning dinnerware?

Spanish Dishes

Shop Spanish Dishes >>
Shop Ceramica Valenciana >>
Shop Light-Weight Plates & Platters >>

Posted on

Day of the Dead and Mexican Pottery

El Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is just around the corner (it’s November 1st and 2nd, corresponding with the Catholic All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days). While Day of the Dead traditions originated in the Central and South Aztec Regions of Mexico it is now celebrated in cultures around the world. Decorated Grave in San MiguelThe holiday is a time when people celebrate and pray for friends and family members who have passed away, aiming to help support their spiritual journey in the afterlife.

On the first day of the holiday, people visit their relatives’ graves, decorating them with flowers and candles. It’s a sort of picnic in the cemetery, with friends and family sharing stories about their loved ones buried there. It’s a celebration of the dead, as well as a celebration of the community those loved ones helped to create.

These graveside picnics usually feature food that was enjoyed by the loved ones being celebrated. Popular Day of the Dead cuisine includes tamales and pan de muerto, a special bread. Bakers hide a toy skeleton inside (usually plastic) and it’s good luck if you bite into it. Sweets are another important Day of the Dead tradition, with cookies, chocolate and sugar skulls. By biting into the skull shapes, people symbolically “take a bite of death” and rid themselves of the fear of death.

Right: A decorated grave in San Miguel de Allende
http://davidlansing.com/a-party-at-the-cemetery/

Another important aspect of the Day of the Dead are the intricate altars constructed and dedicated to deceased relatives. These are often decorated with yellow and orange marigolds and/or chrysanthemums (yellow is the Aztec color for autumn as it’s the season when nature begins to die). There are both home and public altars, where people leave offerings of their relatives’ favorite foods, photographs, and religious amulets. The altars show the cycle of life and death as part of the human experience. Day of the Dead celebrations also can include parades, music, or dancing; but the main idea is to celebrate life and death together.

Day of the Dead Altar in Oaxaca, Mexico
Above: A Colorful Day of the Dead Altar in Oaxaca, Mexico
http://www.transitionsabroad.com/listings/travel/special/articles/oaxaca-mexico-day-of-the-dead.shtml

One of the most popular Day of the Dead personalities is Catrina, the skeleton figure of an upper class female in colorful dress. Catrina gained her iconic status soon after the Mexican Revolution in the 1920s and remains a popular subject in paintings and sculptures to this day. Her male counterpart is called Catrin. He often shows up playing in a Mariachi Band or alongside Catrina.

Day of the Dead Plate by Gorky Gonzalez
Above: ‘Catrina Serving Plate’ by Gorky Gonzalez
Shop Day of the Dead Ceramics >>

Day of the Dead Plate by Gorky Gonzalez
Above: ‘Serving Plate with Skeleton Couple’ by Gorky Gonzalez
Shop Day of the Dead Ceramics >>

Day of the Dead Plate by Gorky Gonzalez
Above: ‘Skeleton Serving Plate’ by Gorky Gonzalez
Shop Day of the Dead Ceramics >>

On my last buying trip to Mexico I picked out a handful of Gorky Gonzalez pottery with beautifully-painted Catrina and Catrin images. While some people who are unfamiliar with the joyous-element of Day of the Dead might think this holiday or its skeleton decorations are creepy, many of us find them to be fun, colorful, and full of authentic Mexican charm. The Day of the Dead plates by Gorky Gonzalez are not meant to be used and enjoyed solely during the holiday. Instead, they offer a relaxed, whimsical look at traditional Mexican culture that should be celebrated year-round. I love this eccentric Mexican pottery and I hope you do to!

What are your thoughts on this colorful holiday and the traditions that go along with it? Do you know of other Mexican ceramics that celebrates the Day of the Dead?

Day of the Dead Plate by Gorky Gonzalez
Above: ‘Catrina Square Platter’ by Gorky Gonzalez
Shop Day of the Dead Ceramics >>

Day of the Dead Plate by Gorky Gonzalez
Above: ‘Catrina Plate’ by Gorky Gonzalez
Shop Day of the Dead Ceramics >>

Day of the Dead Plate by Gorky Gonzalez
Above: ‘Serving Plate with Catrina’ by Gorky Gonzalez
Shop Day of the Dead Ceramics >>

Day of the Dead Plate by Gorky Gonzalez
Above: ‘Large Serving Plate with Skeleton Couple’ by Gorky Gonzalez
Shop Day of the Dead Ceramics >>

Posted on

Buying Trip to Mexico, Part 3: Talavera Vázquez

The final visit on my recent trip to Mexico was to the showroom and studio of Talavera Vázquez, located in the small, pottery-centric town of Dolores Hidalgo. Talavera Vázquez is a fourth generation, family-run business focused on marrying Mexican tradition with current day design innovation.

sky_rooftop

While owner Roberto Vázquez was not there the day of our visit, his outgoing son Arnold Eduardo Vázquez Cortez was there, using his nearly perfect English and touring us around. Also helping us were Francisco Frausto Valdez, a 20+ year employee of the Vázquez family, and Maria Elvira Lopez Gonzalez, who is my business contact for orders. Maria and I do so much long distance emailing and talking that it’s always fun to see each other in person. I feel lucky to be able to work with such a friendly, helpful, and creative team!

four_of_us
(From Left: Francisco, Me, Maria, and Arnold)

We had the opportunity to watch some of the artists glazing pieces that were destined for the Emilia Ceramics collection. Below, Carlos is painting a Large Hidalgo Vase.

painting_hidalgo_vase_2hidalgo_vase
Above: Carlos Javier Salmeron

Below, painter Paula carefully decorates a Blue ZigZag Tibor. On the right are three recently-painted Paloma Round Vases.

paloma_vase
Above: Paula Palacios Olvera

Another artist (called the esmaltador) Jose Salvador Godinez demonstrated for us how he bathes each piece in base glaze (esmalte in Spanish). This is the first stage in the glazing process (after the terracotta clay has been fired). I took the two videos below, which show Jose stirring up the glaze to be sure it has consistent thickness and color throughout; And then bathing a ginger jar in the glaze. While he makes this look easy, anyone who has glazed their own pottery knows this is anything but straightforward or foolproof! He must do it at just the right speed and be sure that the entire piece is covered evenly and dries evenly as well.

[quicktime class=”alignnone width=”250″ height=”400″]http://emiliaceramics.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/movie.720.mov[/quicktime] [quicktime class=”alignnone width=”250″ height=”400″]http://emiliaceramics.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/movie_2_720.mov[/quicktime]

Below is a group of the tall vases we call “Especial” – they have been bathed in base glaze and are now drying before being decorated with stripes, zigzags, or a floral motif. See the finished vases here >>

dipped_vases

After hand-painting each piece with its respective design, they are loaded into the kiln for a final firing. I love the rustic way these pieces are all packed tightly, yet safely together to maximize kiln space.

kiln_ready

lamp_closeupBesides reconnecting with the Vázquez team and seeing their artistry in action, I love to visit so that I can pick out new and original pieces for the Emilia Ceramics Collection. This time on my visit, we found some great new small objects, like soap dishes, jewelry boxes, and simple vases for holding pens, pencils, and toothbrushes. We also picked out a few large statement pieces, such as beautiful big vases, a large sunflower serving dish, and the lamp pictured here. I can’t wait to share all the new finds on the website… hopefully we’ll have them all available in the next week or two. The new Gorky pieces are already up.

See all our New Arrivals here >>

While Dolores Hidalgo is known first and foremost for its Talavera Pottery, it is also famous for ice cream. In the town’s main plaza there are at least 6 dueling ice cream stands, competing to sell not only the best tasting ice cream but also the most original flavors. Check out the sign below! I tried the tequila, refused to try the camaron con pulpo (that’s shrimp with octopus!!), and finally settled on beso de angel, which was some sort of combination of caramel, almonds, and vanilla. Que rico!

helados

Learn more about Talavera Vazquez here!

See Part 1 of our Buying Trip to Mexico >>
See Part 2 of our Buying Trip to Mexico >>

Update: New Arrivals are Here!! Shop Now >>

 

Posted on

Buying Trip to Mexico, Part 2: Capelo

capelo_signAlthough I had planned to visit Capelo, I didn’t coordinate with him ahead of time. The previous times I had visited he had just been there — at his beautiful home and showroom perched high on a hillside overlooking Guanajuato. But this time was a bit more complicated. My parents and I were picked up at our hotel in Guanajuato in the middle of the day. The plan was to go up to Capelo’s, buy ceramics, bubble wrap our purchases, and bring them with us, so my friends at Talavera Vazquez (in Dolores Hidalgo) could ship them home for me (you might remember this process from the last time I visited Capelo). Our driver called Capelo and learned that he and his wife had come to town to do some shopping and weren’t sure when they’d be home. I asked the driver to tell Capelo who I was, because I figured that he would want to see me: “Tell him I’m the tall American girl who shows up every few years and buys a lot of ceramics.” Sure enough, after doing a few extra spins around colorful Guanajuato and finding our way out of town and into Capelo’s scenic neighborhood of Valenciana, he was there, waiting for us.

capeloFor all of you Capelo pottery aficionados out there, I have a little secret to share… I have always thought that Capelo was Capelo. I imagined that Capelo was his last name and he just went by that. At Emilia Ceramics, we’ve referred to him as the “Madonna” or “Prince” of Mexican pottery because he goes by this singular name. Well on this trip I finally found out his REAL name: Javier Hernandez. Yep, it’s true, Capelo is Javier Hernandez! But I think for ease (and respect for him) we’ll continue calling him Capelo.

As soon as we arrived, I got to work looking through the piles of bowls and plates on the floor and tables of the showroom, while my parents started their own pile of vases and pitchers they thought I’d like. Every once in a while, Capelo would pick up a piece I had skipped over and nonchalantly ask “not this one?” … or “did you see this one? It is painted so beautifully.” He could see that I was carefully inspecting the design of each piece and he was concerned that I might have missed something. Of course he was right and once I gave these pieces a second look, I agreed that they were, in fact, beautifully-painted and should be added to the Emilia Ceramics collection. At one point I joked that he was a very good salesman, convincing me to buy more and more. But I know that it was just his deep connection with each piece that made him want to be sure I was seeing, inspecting, and considering the best of the best. It’s the same way I am with my customers who I think might have skipped over an especially amazing piece at Emilia Ceramics.

woman_packing

pitchers_vases

Not surprisingly, I ended up buying about 3 times the amount I had imagined I would. It was just too hard to resist these beautifully crafted vases, platters, and bowls, each with it’s own unique design of super soft and touchable glaze. Capelo’s work definitely has an attitude all it’s own and I love the diversity and originality it adds to my collection.

Here’s a link to what remains from my last visit to Capelo (the new arrivals will be available soon!) >>

After finishing up the business portion of our visit and while waiting for Capelo’s helpers to safely pack up the goods, he took my parents and I on a tour of his beautiful garden. There were many large tibores (the Mexican version of an urn) that Capelo himself has painted, including the one next to my dad below.

(Part 3 of my trip to Mexico will talk about my visit to Talavera Vazquez in Dolores Hidalgo and staying in the charming city of San Miguel de Allende. Stay tuned…)

vert_viewstaircase

gardens_1dadcapelo_pricing

wall

 

See Part 1 of our Buying Trip to Mexico >>
See Part 3 of our Buying Trip to Mexico >>

Update: New Arrivals are Here!! Shop Now >>

 

Posted on

Buying Trip to Mexico, Part 1

fountain

My recent buying trip to Mexico felt a bit like an anniversary celebration. It’s hard to believe, but I started Emilia Ceramics right after my first buying trip to Mexico in November of 2007… That’s seven and a half years ago!! On that trip, I visited six different artists and their workshops. Since then, three of those six have become popular staples in the Emilia Ceramics collections. Not only do my customers love the work of Gorky Gonzalez, Capelo, and Talavera Vazquez, but I love working with these three family-run businesses. They are always welcoming when I visit, interested in my suggestions, and helpful in my quest for new pieces to add to the Emilia Ceramics collection.

mom_and_dad_sqLucky for me, I was able to bring along my two best employees, advisers, and long-time lovers of Emilia Ceramics: My parents! They came with me on my first adventure in 2007, so it was fitting that they’d return on this, my 4th buying trip to Mexico. My parents have a lot of knowledge about art in general and ceramics in particular. They have a great perspective on what customers will appreciate and what they’ll actually use. And like me, they love interacting with the artists, understanding their techniques, and appreciating their skills.

We spent the first few nights in Guanajuato, which is one of the most colorful cities I’ve ever visited. All the buildings are painted shockingly bright colors and the jacaranda trees were in full bloom! It was literally impossible not to take tons of photos! Check out my Instagram Feed >>

jacaradi_hillside
One of the best parts of staying right downtown in Guanajuato, is being only a ten minute walk from Gorky Gonzalez’s studio and showroom. That’s where we went the first morning. It took me at least four hours to look through all of Gorky’s beautiful plates, bowls, pitchers, platters, and ginger jars, hand-selecting the best of the best for Emilia Ceramics! Believe me, Gorky fans, you have a lot to look forward to… the new pieces will be available soon!

owls

shelves

 

nicolome_gorky

After a long morning of pottery-shopping, we went out back, through the lush gardens where a few parrots were talking excitedly in their old-fashioned cages, and into the studio, where the magic happens. There were 4 painters (including Nicolo, in the above photo on the left, working to re-create an antique tile pattern), as well as a woman delicately loading the kiln for its next firing (see photo below). Gorky Jr. is pictured with me in the above photo (on the right). Gorky has learned the trade from his father and now mostly runs the business himself.

I love seeing how each piece, regardless of its size or shape, goes through all the same painstaking stages… being thrown or molded, fired, dipped in a base glaze, carefully hand-painted, and then re-fired. It is no easy task, but requires a lot of time consuming work and tons of artistic skill.

It was a fun and fulfilling first day! I went back the following day to make some final decisions and then we were off to visit Capelo… more on that visit soon!

kiln_stacks

See Part 2 of our Buying Trip to Mexico >>

Update: New Arrivals are Here!! Shop Now >>

 

Posted on

3 Gorky Gonzalez Pottery Pieces Your Wife Will Love

small owl pitcher by gorky gonzalez

He began as a painter and sculptor, but after discovering a centuries-old pottery technique known as Majolica, he knew he wanted to revive the forgotten craft. Over the last 50 years Gorky Gonzalez’s studio has become one of the most important Majolica producers in all of Mexico. Gorky, his wife and son Gorky Jr. (or Gogo), and their team of assistants add their own personal, and oftentimes modern, spin to an ancient technique using locally-sourced clay. Gorky pottery is always hand-crafted and simply beautiful.

There are many Gorky collectors out there… maybe your wife (or another special woman in your life) is one of them. If you’re considering gifting some Gorky Gonzalez pieces to your wife this Valentine’s Day, here are a few original suggestions to get you moving in the right direction.

Amor Platter

amor platter by gorky gonzalez

 

Make her feel like a girl again! The design of the Amor Platter is typically referred to as the wedding couple, but we think its depiction of love makes for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. A fun and festive dish for serving appetizers… or a colorful caprese salad!

You may also enjoy: The Plate Designs of Gorky Gonzalez

Small Owl Pitcher

small owl pitcher by gorky gonzalez

 

How cute is this little guy? Guaranteed to put a smile on your wife’s face every time she creams her coffee. This Small Owl Pitcher looks great with Gorky’s colorful Gogo mugs. Hand-painted with colorful glazes, each creamer is one of a kind, which means that no two pitchers look exactly alike, but each has a personality all its own!

You may also enjoy: Gorky Gonzalez, a Lesson in Making the Traditional Modern

Pair of La Mexicana Candle Holders

la mexicana candleholders by gorky gonzalez

This large, colorful set of La Mexicana Candle Holders will add personality to your romantic dinner table setting this Valentine’s Day. And, your wife will continue to enjoy them for entertaining!

You may also enjoy: Behind the Scenes: Gorky Gonzalez’s Mexican Ceramics

There are so many fun and festive Gorky Gonzalez pottery pieces. Take a peek at his entire collection, here. 

Posted on

Celebrating Mexican Pottery with an ‘Indian Summer Taco Party’

While I enjoyed the “real” winter in Colorado last year, I am having a lot of trouble letting go of summer. Lucky for me, it has been practically perfect weather for the last week in Boulder. Like mid-60s to mid-70s, sun shining and just a few wispy clouds. Plus, the leaves are changing making for a super vibrant color spectrum of yellow, orange, and blue. In honor of this beautiful weather — and the impending cold, dark months to come — I decided to host a little taco party. I kept it pretty simple, focusing on fresh guacamole, carne asada tacos, and refreshing coin style margaritas.

I decided to make this party about celebrating Mexican pottery as well as great Mexican food (and lovely warm weather). I think I spent more time picking out the serving dishes, plates, bowls, and glassware than I did preparing the food! What I came up with was a color pallet that matched the scenery outside: warm oranges and yellows set against crisp blues and whites. These pieces fit the season and they made the food look delicious. Here are a few photos from the evening:

P1010001

IMG_5586

IMG_5592
Here’s a link to all the Mexican pottery featured at my taco party >>

While the “Agua” Cups and Pitcher are actually from Spain, I thought they added a fun and fitting touch for serving and drinking water. I always reach for the El Mar Platter and matching Serving Plate when I want interesting shapes, a subtle color pallet, and a decorative but not distracting pattern. To that I added the La Mexicana Dinner Plates and Dip Bowls (I love this classic pattern from Gorky Gonzalez). Of course I opted for a few bright pops of color, with the rich Pumpkin Bowls and Dinner Plates, the Cucumber Long Platter with Floral Relief and bright orange cotton napkins. The table was super colorful and the food was delicious! I think I definitely achieved my goal of celebrating Mexican pottery and paying tribute to what’s officially my new favorite season: Indian Summer.

Posted on

What Makes This Striped Vase So Special?

Years ago, when I named this striped vase ‘Especial,’ I had no idea how many other people would find it equally special. I guess it’s a case of great minds thinking alike! Whether on Pinterest, Facebook, or design blogs, people can’t get enough of this striped vase by Talavera Vazquez. Maybe it’s the shape, maybe it’s the size, maybe it’s the stripes?

striped vase orangeblack white striped vase with sunflowers

To keep up with their popularity, I have consistently had to increase my orders of the ‘Especial’ vases over the years. Decorators love them. I love them. And judging by all the repins on Pinterest, you seem to love them too!

striped vase

When a smaller striped vase is needed, we have the shorter version of the ‘Especial’, as well as the small round vase with stripes. The curves keep these vases just as arresting and functional, regardless of size. And then there’s our striped wine bottle holder: wine, flowers, utensils, this striped vase does it all.

 Blue and White Striped Vase

Why do you think these striped vases are so popular? Are there any other colors you’d like to see? I am about to introduce a new version of the above shorter striped vase in yellow and burnt orange, which I’m sure will be super popular. Let me know if you have any ideas of how we could expand the striped vase line. Meanwhile, I’ll be dreaming of stripes for days to come…striped vase yellow

Posted on

3 Reasons to Love Mexican Vases

My collection of Talavera Vazquez Mexican vases is threatening to take over my apartment. The large, crazy bouquets Martin brings me look great in my blue and white striped vase. Smaller arrangements that I can’t resist find the perfect home in the green and white vase usually found on my desk. Given my general vase addiction, Mexican vases remain my favorites. Here are three reasons you’ll love them too:

1. Effortless art and accents

Mexican vases don’t need flowers to be eye-catching. From Capelo’s large statement-makers to smaller offerings from Talavera Vazquez, there’s a Mexican vase that’s perfect for any nook, shelf, or other surface. For a quick change of mood, I mix an empty vase or two into my collection of flower pots in the window; suddenly the entire space looks rejuvenated. The subtle hand-painted details on these ceramics mean they rarely get tucked away out of sight. Art was never so easy.

green vase with daffodils

2. Color when you need it, monochrome when you don’t

Mexican vases’ range of vibrant colors appeals to my bright, bold aesthetic. But sometimes the occasion calls for black and white, not bright yellow or orange. Luckily, rich detail doesn’t get sacrificed with more subdued color palettes. Just look at this incredible black and white vase and you’ll see what I mean.

short_black_striped_vase

 

3. No flower gets left behind

I’m always on the outlook for new blooms, but not every vase compliments every flower. Delicate arrangements get dwarfed to overly large vases while big and tall sunflowers, lilies, and hydrangeas quickly overwhelm smaller vases. Flower arranging by vase is complicated, but the opaque ceramics in a variety of sizes means that Mexican vases can fill practically every flower need that arises.

mexican vase with flowers

Why do you love Mexican vases? Leave your reason in a comment below.

Posted on

Blue and White Mexican Pottery for All Seasons


asparagus_el_mar

Whether it’s hot or cold outside, blue and white Mexican pottery is always a great compliment to the season. What are your favorites?

Blue and white Mexican pottery platters for fall

As temperatures drop, platters become essential for entertaining. Football games and Thanksgiving beg for platters full of delicious, hot dishes. The handles on this blue and white Mexican serving dish make it ideal for transporting that turkey or roast to the table so that everyone can enjoy the bounty. Smaller platters handle breads, vegetables, and other sides to complete the feast.

Blue and white Mexican pottery mugs for winter

Brrrrr, it’s cold outside. Time for a mug of hot chocolate! And what could be better than Gorky’s signature oversized blue and white mug after playing in the snow? Even where the temperatures aren’t frightful, blue and white Mexican pottery mugs provide some cheer for this festive season.

large blue and white mug

Blue and white Mexican pottery planters for spring

Finally, here comes the sun! Get ready to welcome warmer temperatures with some greenery inside and out. Start your seedlings in a small blue and white planter covered with plastic; you’ll be ready to plant as soon as the ground thaws. Green houseplants that stay inside year around look even more lush against these colors. Think of it as spring cleaning with less cleaning.

blue_white_planters

Blue and white Mexican pottery vases for summer

Flowers hit their peak in the summer months, whether tulips early in the season or roses into the fall. Blue and white vases bring a cool, fresh note to your home. Instead of giant bouquets, try simple arrangements with just a few blooms in the slim blue and white Mexican vase.tulips_striped_vase

Posted on

Blue and White Ceramic Flower Pots

blue_and_white
Some people are surprised to learn that planters or flower pots are some of the most popular items we sell at Emilia Ceramics. Personally, I believe this is because it’s difficult to find unique options for flower pots (which also explains why our lamps are so popular). As opposed to vases and soup bowls, there are really only a few ways to go if you’re looking to dress up your patio or garden with new flower pots. Here’s a run-down of my personal favorites:

1. Classic Terracotta Flower PotsScreen Shot 2014-08-05 at 4.22.31 PM

I’m a big fan of simple, large terracotta planters. They feel rustic and remind me of my favorite gardens in Italy, France, and places closer to home like Napa Valley and Carmel-by-the-Sea. The soft terracotta color doesn’t compete with flowers, but instead allows them to take center stage. These ceramic flower pots are more like a nice frame for the plants they hold. (The photo at the right shows the gardens at Poterie Ravel in Southern France).

2. Bright Blue Flower Pots

I also like the effect created by bright blue ceramic flower pots. I’ve seen a lot of these recently on front porches in Boulder. They are super cheerful and work like a colorful backdrop for flowers. In fact, I think they look the best filled with more subtle plants, like wispy greens and small white flowers. If you’re a color-person, but need a more affordable option, these are a great way to go… Look for these flower pots at Pier 1 or your local nursery.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 4.22.15 PM

3. Personality-Packed Flower Pots

Of course, the blue and white ceramic flower pots we sell at Emilia Ceramics are my favorites! As with other pieces, I am always drawn to unique shapes, like the Square Planter with Blue Stripes by Talavera Vazquez. Another favorite for large plants is the Round Paloma Planter – its authentic shape and style add instant hacienda flavor to any patio or porch.

oval_planters
If Mexican flower pots are a bit too festive for your taste, I would recommend the more subtle planters by Richard Esteban. These evoke Richard’s famous French country charm. And the teal blue glaze he uses makes any plant or flower look amazing.

teal_planter_plate

For inside blooms, Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia really delivers. Their ceramic flower pots, in a variety of traditional Italian patterns, are great for adding elegance to the kitchen or dining room. Whether you set a few small 4″ plants in an oval planter or fill a large round planter with an elegant fern or flowering hydrangea, they will dress up your home in an instant. (These planters are fine outside too, they just don’t have holes in the bottom so they are especially well-suited for indoors).

ferns
I guess it’s really not that shocking that we sell a lot of blue and white ceramic flower pots at Emilia Ceramics. After all, they have both personality and purpose!

 

 

Posted on

5 Beautiful Ways to Decorate with Ginger Jars

decorate with ginger jars

Ginger jars, known as urns or tibores (as they are called in Mexico), are more than the latest decorating trend. In fact, ginger jars have a long and rich history stemming back to the Qin Dynasty (221 BC–207 BC). Though originally used to ship and store spices, herbs and oils, ginger jars have slowly become a home décor must-have, and why not? Ginger jars are beautiful, versatile and practical, too.

If you are looking for ways to decorate with ginger jars, here are some of my personal favorite ideas.

Flower Arrangements

Bright colors and beautiful designs make for a lovely backdrop to your favorite flowers. Replace your regular glass vase with a ginger jar and you’ll add instant style to your home décor.

decorate with ginger jars

Get the look with the Small Paloma Tibor by Talavera Vazquez

Lovely Lamps

Lamps are a wonderful way to showcase your favorite ginger jar. Use it on your bedside table, next to your sofa or anywhere in your home where you’d like to add a pop of color.

decorate with ginger jars

Get the look with a ginger jar lamp like the Small Yellow ZigZag Lamp by Talavera Vazquez

Dining Room Table

Oversized dining room tables simply beg to be dressed up. Gather coordinating ginger jars, fill a few with flowers and voila! An instantly elegant table-scape.

decorate with ginger jars
Get the look by mixing and matching similarly colored ginger jars

Entry Table

The first things your guests will notice when they visit your home will be your entry table. Use ginger jars as your “welcoming committee.” For a bold and beautiful first impression, cluster similarly colored or styled pieces together.

decorate with ginger jars
Get the look with the Small Burnt Orange Striped Tibor and the Burnt Orange ZigZag Tibor

Color Coordinated

If you’re a newby to decorating with ginger jars, a fun way to introduce them to your home decor is by sprinkling in accent pieces that are well-coordinated with your design colors.

decorate with ginger jars
Get the look with this Yellow Striped Tibor.

When you decorate with ginger jars, you add elegance, fun, and color in a way that your friends will envy.

Which ginger jars are your favorites?

Here is the ginger jar I am currently lusting over…. 

Posted on

Our Favorite Handmade Handpainted Majolica

From leaves and flowers to frogs and ornate curlicues, handmade handpainted majolica spans a range of styles. Partly the differences have to do with changing fashions and artistic movements. For example, English Victorian-era majolica is much more vegetal in shape than Italian Renaissance pieces, as these examples show:

Victorian majolica

Victorian majolica

I think having a snake as the spout of your teapot (bottom shelf in the middle) is a bit over the top, which is probably why I’ve never really gotten into collecting this style of majolica. Many pieces in this style were also mass-produced instead of handmade and handpainted; I definitely prefer ceramics where you can tell they’ve been made by human hands. That said, these majolica serving platters are pretty impressive. Each plate depicts the food it’s designed to serve, though with the lead used in glazes in this period, I wouldn’t eat off of them.

majolica serving platters

Of course, three-dimensional ceramics are live and well today. Just look at these French serving platters, each with a different relief around the border.

French serving platterfrench serving platterHowever, contemporary majolica artists often leave their pieces smooth to really show off the intricacies of designs painted in glaze, like these Mexican serving platters.

Mexican serving platter

 

Display is a crucial aspect of any majolica collection. This kitchen uses a mixture of vintage-looking majolica plates and platters for a great focal point over the stove that doesn’t conflict with the ceiling pattern.

majolica plate displayWhat are your favorite examples of handmade handpainted majolica serving plates and platters?

English tea service images courtesy Martha Stewart Living, March 2005, via Martha Moments.

Green kitchen image courtesy Mendelson Group via Laura Casey Interiors.

Posted on

Have You Heard of Capelo Pottery?

capeloWhile I’m sure there are a few Mexican pottery aficionados out there who have heard of him (in fact, I’ve met a few of you), most people reading this are probably thinking “Capelo who?!” Here at Emilia Ceramics, we like to describe Capelo as the Prince or Madonna of pottery, since he goes by just one name and has a style all his own. Capelo’s not the easiest artist to work with — He’s a true artist who is much more concerned with the function, form, and quality of his work than he is with the selling of it. (For more background, checkout the post I wrote while visiting Capelo last: Mas de Mexico!)

While the process of working with Capelo may not be seamless, I would never give it up. That’s because I am personally a HUGE fan of Capelo’s work. His vases, bowls, and plates have a touchable softness that is completely unique. He uses rustic-colored glazes that I love displaying with Richard’s French country tableware (in fact, Capelo Pottery is a bit like a “French Country” Mexican artist, if such a think exists!). What I love most is the smooth, water-like effect of Capelo’s glazes, which make each piece beg to be used and loved. I have a tray by Capelo next to my bed that brings a smile to my face every day and I am seriously considering bringing some of these little plates home to use for toast in the morning.

little_plate_9little_plate_5 little_plate_7

Also on my list of current Capelo favorites are these two footed bowls: La Tropical and La Primavera. They make perfect centerpieces, whether filled with citrus fruits or left bare to show off Capelo’s hand-applied brushstrokes. They would also be great serving bowls on a summer buffet filled with a fresh fruit or green salad!

footed_bowl_blue
footed_bowl_yellow

You cannot go wrong with a piece by Capelo. For one thing, nobody will ever have a vase, mug, or plate just like yours. That’s because he never makes two things exactly alike. Each one is imbued with Capelo’s charismatic, rustic, and super creative personality. Each one has been hand-crafted with the hope that it be loved and enjoyed and passed down from generation to generation. And I think that is truly how Capelo wants to be known — As an artist that loves his craft and his country and wants to share the best of each with others.

capelo_store

Posted on

Your Favorite Ginger Jars From Around the World

ginger jars

Ginger jars are a global favorite. Stylish and stunning, they remain a perpetual favorite with Emilia Ceramics customers around the world. Here are some of your (and our!) favorite ginger jars.

ginger jars

Mexican Ginger Jars

black and white ginger jar - extra large

These tibores combine classic Mexican style with a contemporary twist. People love black and white ginger jars from Talavera Vazquez, whether they feature chevron designs, stripes, or the intricate floral pattern of the Hidalgo tibor. Blue and white ginger jars are another popular category; I particularly love the small chevron tibor from this part of the collection.

blue_white_chevron_zigzag_urn_ginger_jar_tibor

Gorky Gonzalez ginger jars have a different vibe, with a rounder shape and delicate handle detailing. The layered motif of this ginger jar has a distinctly tropical feel, perfect for casual decor.

Italian Ginger Jars

What is the line between canister and ginger jar? I think it has to do with the curve of the vessel’s sides; a canister tends to be straight on the sides, a ginger jar curved. But there are always exceptions to prove the rule. Take this gorgeous vasetto di zenzero from Ceramiche Bartoloni. Used as a vase, shelf decoration, or to hold your stash of ginger, it’s a stunning example of ceramic fusion gone right.

canister_ginger_jar_italian_ceramics_bartoloni

Spanish Ginger Jars

A recent addition to the collection, this búcaro by Ceramica Valenciana is deceptively simple. People can’t seem get enough of its pure white glaze or graceful lines, let alone its three curving handles. It’s one of my new personal favorites too.

blue_white_stripe_urn_ginger_jar_talavera

Where do your favorite ginger jars come from?

Posted on

Why Talavera Vazquez Ginger Jars Remain Irresistible


Ginger jars
are a perpetual favorite for home accents. They range in size, color, and shape (and offer built in secret storage!)—what is there not to love? I particularly fancy the ginger jars by Talavera Vazquez. Their flair and verve definitely stand out from the rest. Stripes, chevrons, flowers, bold patterns… there’s something for everyone.

Need a reason to add ginger jars to your home? Why not try a ginger jar or two as:

Outdoor decor

Sturdy ginger jars work wonderfully on a patio or deck. Keep them empty or fill with cut flowers.

ginger jars on patio

Stylish bookends

Small ginger jars corral books and add color, especially bold Talavera Vazquez tibores.

ginger jars on shelves
ginger jars

Secret storage

In the past, ginger jars were used to transport ginger and other spices. You can use them to organize your desk or kitchen counter.

ginger jar on desk
talavera vazquez ginger jar

Dramatic flower vases

Large ginger jars perfectly accent long stemmed flowers, branches, and major arrangements.

ginger jar with flowers

 ginger jar with hydrangeas

Need more ginger jar inspiration? Check out the Emilia Ceramics ginger jar Pinterest board as well as the Talavera Vazquez collection, then join the ginger jar fun yourself. You won’t be able to resist.

Posted on

Capelo’s Mexican Vases: High Impact Style

Mexican vases
Vibrant and colorful, Mexican vases are a favorite of many interior designers. But while the graphic designs of Talavera Vazquez are wonderfully modern, there’s something truly special about Capelo’s vases that draw me back again and again to his studio outside Guanajuato, Mexico.

Capelo Ceramics
Capelo
himself says that his glazes are distinct because they use all-natural ingredients. But the playful patterning and expert color combinations set these Mexican vases, pitchers, serving bowls, and other ceramics apart from the rest. Even an empty Capelo vase easily becomes a focal point for a room, whether on a sideboard, shelf, or tabletop. A Capelo vase filled with fresh flowers is even more compelling. The variety of motifs—vases adorned with interlocking circle and diamonds, a repeating fleur de lys pattern, or abstract flowers—highlight their one of a kind nature and makes them even more special. No matter the size, the interesting shapes and warm, inviting glazes just beg to be touched and used.

Mexican vase by CapeloThe laid-back vibe continues beyond Capelo’s Mexican vases. His rustic pitchers accent homes with ease on the table or as decor. For example, this large pitcher would be especially compelling used as a vase for long branches or dried grasses. The ribbon accent on the handle gives it the perfect finishing touch.

large pitcherEach of Capelo’s pieces tells its own story, which is what makes them so compelling. I like how the abstract patterns appeal to a wide range of styles, so they seem right at home in a variety of settings. I can’t wait to see what Capelo’s team creates by the next time I visit the studio! They’re sure to bring high style no matter where they end up.

Posted on

Blue and White Mexican Pottery Promises Good Luck in 2014!

How would you like some good fortune in 2014? Good luck traditions range all over the world from breaking plates in Denmark to wearing polka dots in the Philippines. I recently learned that in medieval Europe people listened for a dove’s first call since they believed it indicated the luck to come in the new year. If the call came from above, good luck would come; if from below, bad luck was on its way.

I like to believe that all of the doves on the paloma blue and white Mexican pottery collection bring good luck. I love the mix of patterns and textures that surround the subtle shape of a flying dove on these ceramics; they are at once ornate and warmly rustic. The tall blue and white vase is striking filled with colorful blooms or left empty. The smaller round vase works well for small flowers or as a pen and pencil holder on a desk.

blue and white Mexican pottery vase For those with birthdays in January, the versatile oval paloma box makes a great gift, holding jewelry, toiletries, or keys. Another perennial favorite is the paloma oval serving dish.

paloma dish - blue and white Mexican pottery

If doves aren’t your good luck bird of choice, why not celebrate the New Year with roosters? Blue and white Mexican pottery pieces such as this rooster serving bowl possess a unique charm all their own. Another of my personal favorites is Gorky’s large blue and white rooster. He would be perfect as an accent in a kitchen or in the home of any rooster collector. All that personality has got to bring good luck, right?

correct_big_rooster_bowl

blue_white_rooster_grey_2
Here at Emilia Ceramics, 2014 is sure to bring more beautiful blue and white Mexican pottery pieces, as well as new French and Italian ceramics, and the return of some old favorites. I feel so fortunate to work with such talented artists, not to mention our dedicated and energetic customers (both new and returning). No matter what you do to bring yourself good luck this year, from toasts at midnight to eating grapes to wearing red underwear, here’s to it being fantastic!

Posted on

Holiday Hours, New Arrivals, and Ginger Jars

Emilia Ceramics holiday hours

Christmas is next week, and our Boulder Showroom has been busy with people trying to find the perfect gift for people on their lists. Luckily I have a few gifts of my own for Emilia Ceramics customers: two brand new artists for the collection and some new arrivals from old favorites. Here’s the run down of what’s going on:

Holiday Hours

We have extended hours in our Boulder Showroom for easy holiday shopping. Stop by and check out new arrivals not yet on the website, unique non-ceramic gifts (including these gorgeous handmade ornaments from Mexico — 100% of the profits go to supporting the community from which they come), and plenty of gift ideas from ginger jars to serving platters to salt and pepper sets. If you’re not in Boulder, call us at 303.442.0180 before Friday for express shipping options so that gifts will arrive in time for Christmas.

New Artists

Ceramica Valenciana’s modern Spanish ceramics are already a hit, and I’ve been working hard at getting even more of their mugs, pitchers, ginger jars, and serving ware on the website.

white ginger jar
We also have a new artist from Italy, Ceramiche Gialletti Giulio, a third generation majolica studio in Deruta. Their unique jewelry boxes, table accessories, and serving platters are truly stunning with intricate patterns and an array of rich colors. Stay tuned as we add their elegant place settings to the website over the next few days! Again, there are even more pieces in our Boulder Showroom, so stop by and see these beautiful Italian ceramics in person before anyone else.

handmade Italian jewelry box

 Italian salt and pepper set

Ginger Jars

Talavera Vazquez fans are all-about this Mexican studio’s gorgeous ginger jars, but I’m in love with their smaller pieces this holiday season. The small round striped vases make a great gift, as do their candleholders.

Mexican candleholdersOf course, ginger jars large and small remain favorites for traditional and modern homes alike. Mexican ceramics are ideal for people who love to entertain with causal elegance, making the Vazquez and Gorky collections popular year round, not just for the holidays.

IMG_0931

Posted on

The Pefect Gift: A Handmade Serving Platter


El Mar Serving Dish

I just had two very nice customers come into my little Boulder Showroom, looking for a gift idea for a special friend of theirs. We looked at and discussed all sorts of options… and through the process, I came to realize that I truly believe there is no better gift than a classic handmade, hand-painted serving platter. It can be hung on the wall for decoration or used to serve just about anything, depending on its size, depth, and shape. It is truly always more fun to serve a good meal from handcrafted serving platters, especially when they’re glazed beautifully and formed into a useful shape. Here are a few examples of my favorites. Some of these I’ve given as gifts before and I can attest to the fact that they’ve been much used and loved!

richard_platter_steakFrench Serving Platters
Richard Esteban has a knack for making serving platters that cry out to be used. This burnt-honey fish platter is one of my favorites and I gave it as a Christmas gift to my dad a few years ago. Since then, he has used it to serve salads and meat dishes, even a Thanksgiving turkey last year! Each of the fish platters by Richard Esteban has a unique size and an original decoration around the edge. I love the guarantee that each serving platter is an original — an equal cannot be found the world over. Talk about a one-of-a-kind gift!

I also love Richard’s petal platters. These have a bit more depth than the fish platters, making them perfect for serving dishes with sauce. Whether it’s a pork roast or a yummy pasta dish, the large petal platter is perfect for serving with style. The unique shape of the serving platter also makes it ideal for passing.
barn_red_petal_platterMexican Serving Platters
Gorky Gonzalez makes a few of my favorite serving platters… and they’re very affordable! Both the El Mar Platter and the Amor Platter have a great shape for serving all sorts of things, from cheese and crackers to veggies… and dessert! My brother loves making Caprese Salad on the Amor Platter I gave him last year. (Who said ceramics only make good gifts for women? I have a whole section of the website devoted to gifts for men!)

IMG_4067Screen Shot 2013-01-12 at 2.14.29 PM

I have also fallen in love with this blue and white serving platter by Talavera Vazquez. I love the vibrant blue and white design, which would look so amazing filled with an assortment of appetizers or on a buffet with delicious finger-foods. The holes on the back of this large plate also make it a tempting decoration for the kitchen wall. What a beautiful, unique, and meaningful gift idea?!
blue_platter_above
IMG_4072Italian Serving Platters
Last, but most definitely not least, there are so many Italian serving platters that make great gifts. I think the question really comes down to color and shape when shopping for the perfect piece of handmade hand-painted Majolica. Traditionalists can usually be counted on to like Italian serving platters where blue and yellow play the lead role. For these folks, I’d suggest Tuscia’s Oval Serving Platter with Lemons or Square Platter with Pomegranates. Anyone who’s come to my house for cheese and crackers, knows these square serving plates are my go-to for appetizers. If you’re looking for an over-sized serving platter, you can’t go wrong with the large Blu Limoni Platter — it makes a big, fun, colorful Italian statement.

If a traditional cobalt blue isn’t what you’re looking for, I’d suggest the Limoni collection — these fresh, vibrant lemons, hand-painted on oval serving platters and square serving platters are sure to impress. Another fun favorite for serving is the Large Rooster Platter. This dish is colorful, unique, and looks great whether hanging on the wall to decorate the kitchen or on the counter serving a main course.

As you can see, I have a lot of holiday gift ideas — ones for young and old, traditional-types and more contemporary people, Italian-lovers, and those who prefer French Country. But I can guarantee that a handmade serving platter will always make a great gift. Everyone can use them… you can never have too many… and when each is an original, they can only bring a new and original happiness into your life! And isn’t that the point of a great gift? I think so.

Check out all of the Emilia Ceramics Serving Platters by Country:

 

 

Posted on

The Perfect Mexican Ceramics to Celebrate the Day of the Dead

Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) was last week, so it’s no surprise that I have had Mexico and Mexican ceramics made by my favorite Mexican artists—Talavera Vazquez, Gorky Gonzalez, and Capelo—on my mind.

day of the dead skullsThe Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1 and 2, right after Halloween. The purpose of Día de los Muertos is to remember and celebrate one’s ancestors and friends who have died. The celebration has ancient roots in Aztec, Purepechas, and Totonacs traditions as well as links to the Catholic All Souls Day. Its two days of celebration are full of feasting, traditional foods, and lots of skulls. You’ve probably seen the joyful skeletons, especially the iconic couple of Catrina and Catrin. These dandy skeletons have a long tradition in their own right and are found in all kinds of art from sculptures and dolls to Mexican ceramics.

Mexican ceramicsOne of my favorite expressions of the Catrin figure is on this tile hot plate by Gorky Gonzalez. This smoking skeletons might be associated with the Day of the Dead, but he will bring Mexican charm to your kitchen all year round.

hot_plate_smoking_skeletonThe sugar skulls, cookies, and chocolates made for Day of the Dead celebrations are more than just eye-catching. By eating these sweets, people take a symbolic “bite of death” to rid themselves of the fear of death. Intricate altars are another important part of the holiday, decked in yellow and orange marigolds or chrysanthemums, food, sweets, photos, and religious amulets. Traditionally people also journey to their relatives’ graves on November 1 to decorate them with flowers and candles, then picnic there in celebration of the dead.

Day of the Dead skullsAll parts of this Mexican holiday blend the dead with the living. Maybe next year I’ll host my own Day of the Dead celebration… Invite people over to feast on my favorite Mexican dishes and share our memories of loved ones who are no longer alive. A playful Mexican ceramic skeleton bowl or trivet adds the perfect Day of the Dead touch. I especially love the effect of mixing these special Mexican ceramics with more oridinary dip bowls, serving platters, and pitchers of drinks. Felicidades!

skeleton bowlCandy skulls image courtesy of Glen Van Etten.

Posted on

Showroom Spotlight on Decorative Dinner Plates and Stylish Dining

cactus and rooster platesOne of the best parts of the Emilia Ceramics Showroom is arranging ceramics in ways that people actually use them. I love the way that stacks of decorative dinner plates look and have had fun displaying lots of plates and bowls. The results look good enough to eat (off of)!

The dishware sets by Gorky Gonzalez are consistent favorites with customers and looking over the many styles, sizes, and patterns, it’s not hard to see why. Their mix of colors means there are plates for every taste. There are plain dinner plates for the minimalists and richly decorated salad and dessert plates for those who like more personality with their place settings. Gorky’s whimsical designs make for decorative dinner plates that people use daily instead of only for special occasions.

decorative dinner plate rooster plates Gorky’s studio has an entire team of artists who paint his plates and bowls. Although there is a traditional design that the artists follow, Gorky encourages them to add their own creativity and style to the piece. So no two fish or cowboys look exactly alike, giving each plate its own intentional charm. I particularly love the new caballero plates with their mustached cowboys in a variety of sizes and the Mexican cowgirl (la charra) serving plates. They definitely add some spice to the other characters in Gorky’s tableware sets.

cowboy decorative platecowgirl decorative serving plate

Stacking smaller plates on dinner plates is an easy way to add style to the table, whether it’s a family brunch or formal dinner. Having a variety of colors and patterns creates texture and can quickly change the feel of your space. Often people mix the designs of the smaller dessert and salad plates, having a set with a variety of animals or figures. I think it makes everything just a little more dynamic. If patterns or figures lack appeal, simply mixing colors can be an easy way to update a table and add a personal touch to the meal. Pair a stack of plates in rainbow hues with neutral table linens for a table setting that really pops.

decorative dinner platesNow that fall is truly here, I know people are starting to think about all the entertaining that cooler temperatures bring. For me the biggest question will be which plates and bowls to leave off the table—and with so many great options from Gorky, it’s definitely a question that will take time to answer!

Posted on

For the Love of Rooster Pitchers…

With the new Emilia Ceramics Showroom up and running, I’ve been able to see our collection in a whole new way. One thing that really stands out is just how many rooster ceramics we have in the collection. Right now it’s mostly Mexican and Italian rooster ceramic, though I’m sure to have French roosters and other new additions in the coming months.rooster ceramicRight now, though, I can’t get enough of the rooster creamers and rooster pitchers from Gorky Gonzalez. These ceramics are unique in how they are actually shaped like roosters, full of personality from the colorful feathers to the beak that doubles as a spout. Both rooster creamer and rooster pitcher are fun enough to be a permanent addition to your counter or table. I think they look great filled with a small bouquet of wildflowers or just on their own.

rooster creamerowl pitcherThe new owl creamer is another feathered friend that’s proven popular in just the few short months I’ve had it in stock. Like Gorky’s salt and pepper shakers, these creamers are a great gift for anyone who likes a little whimsy. And for those more traditional rooster fans, there are always the Italian rooster pitchers and creamers by the Bartoloni brothers. The smooth lines and detailed, colorful crowing rooster embody the vibrancy of Italy (and they make waking up just a little easier). Rooster pitchers are a traditional good luck gift, ideal for housewarmings and weddings. I’m not sure if they really do protect the home against danger, but they certainly look regardless!

owl creamerrooster pitcherHave you given a rooster pitcher as a gift? Are you a fan or collector of rooster ceramic? Leave a comment and let us know about your favorites.

Posted on

The Plate Designs of Gorky Gonzalez: Endless Combinations

Whenever I make a display of Gorky Gonzalez plates, I am faced with a unique challenge: no matter how I stack the mix of colors, patterns, and designs, these plates look great. So finding the most attractive arrangement can take some time. But the results always are appealing, with unique designs and vibrant colors that are beautiful on any table.

Gorky Gonzalez PotteryStacking plates is a quick and easy way to make any meal feel more like an event, whether you have guests or just your family around the table. Of course, the permutations depend on what you’re serving. Some ideas to get you started: Soup bowl on top of salad plate on top of dinner plate. Three plates of descending sizes stacked on top of each other. Square plates on top of round plates. For brunch, maybe a cup and saucer stacked on top of a bread plate and larger plate.

plate designs of Gorky GonzalezI think what’s special about the plate designs of Gorky Gonzalez is how they just beg to be mixed and matched. I have people who stick to the same color palette—blue and white is very popular—but mix the borders of their smaller plates to contrast with the patterns of their dinner plates. Others choose solid colored dinner plates and accessorize with complimentary salad and dessert plates in a mix of designs. I love a vibrant red plate as a starting point. For a dynamic table setting, things get even more interesting when each individual salad plate has a different central motif, but complimentary colors and border design with the dinner plates.

rooster_plateblue and white mini plateGorky dessert platered plateGorky’s plates are all handpainted, just like the rest of his ceramics, so no two plates are exactly alike. This personality really makes for a striking table, with the motifs of roosters, palm trees, fish, flowers, and more. What’s your favorite Gorky plate? How do you feel about red plates or blue plates instead of plain white plates? Leave a comment and let us know! I’m going to get back to arranging the plates in our new Emilia Ceramics Showroom… I just received a new order from Gorky so I have lots of material to work with!

stacks

Posted on

Capelo Pottery, a Unique Take on Mexican Ceramics

Capelo's studio and countryside

Capelo’s dedication to Mexico ceramics makes him stand out from other traditional artists. Not only is Capelo himself a talented, multi-faceted artist (he also is an architect, oil painter, and mixed-media sculptor), his dedication to keeping things natural makes his ceramics practically luminescent. His studio is one of the smaller ones in the Emilia Ceramics collection but the ceramics definitely make a big statement. Capelo potterySo just how does Capelo and his small team of artists create the unique Mexico ceramics that have made them famous?

One major factor I think is the land itself. Capelo’s home is high on a hill outside Guanajuato, Mexico, which gives him an incredible panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. His almost daily horseback rides and constant contact with such beauty comes through in his work with the colors and shadings of his ceramics. True artists, Capelo and his team take their environment and make it portable through their pottery.

Capelo’s ingenuity is also reflected in the unique shapes he creates. Pitchers with unexpected cutaway tops, fluted bowls, delicately pulled handles, and a willingness to play with scale truly set these Mexico ceramics apart. I couldn’t resist Capelo’s massive serving dishes on my last buying trip—I fell in love with the rounded square serving dish and all its possible uses. The same goes for the fluted serving bowls and smaller plates with kaleidoscope-like designs.

Capelo pitcher

square serving dishCapelo plates

Although Capelo pottery experiments with shapes, there are two things that never change: the use of local clay and natural glazes. Capelo says that his glazes are different because they don’t contain additives like many modern glazes do, using only natural ingredients. Of course, this doesn’t limit his use of color. His Mexico ceramics are rich with deep blue, dreamy green, burnt orange-red, and soft yellow. The resulting majolica is a softer, more subtle Mexican ceramics, almost glowing from within. Add to all this the fact that all of Capelo’s ceramics are one of a kind pieces and you have a recipe for an artist who definitely stands out from the rest.

Capelo fluted footed bowl

Posted on

Gorky Gonzalez, a Lesson in Making the Traditional Modern

Gorky GonzalezWorking with artists that are practicing a craft hundreds of years old, I’m always amazed to see how modern their pieces can feel. It goes deeper than the idea that beauty is timeless. Mixing form and function with elegant shapes, rich colors and patterns has long been the hallmark of majolica ceramics. Just look at Gorky Gonzalez. He basically resurrected an art form that had almost died out, drawing on a mix of other ceramic traditions to make Mexican pottery that is as unique as the artists that create it. Instead of being a slave to tradition, Gorky Gonzalez is an innovator who is constantly thinking up new designs and new pieces with the help of his family and the other artists who are part of his workshop.

The Gogo Mexican pottery line is the perfect example of this new era of Mexican ceramics. Contemporary in shape and colors, the pieces still have the weight of tradition firmly behind them. I quickly fell in love with the serving platters, mugs, and colorful plates designed by Gorky’s son, known as Gogo. (And stay tuned because I just received a shipment with brand new Gogo pieces like fun pasta bowls and dessert plates). Based on our conversations together, here are three tips for taking tradition and making it feel a bit more modern.Gogo Mexican pottery

1. Repeat what works. This is a cardinal rule in business as well. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” For Gogo’s Mexican pottery, this means using the same local clay, gorgeous glazes, and firing techniques as more traditional Mexican ceramics. The similar colors make these pieces easy to mix and match with the more decorated ceramics Gorky Gonzalez is known for.

Gogo bowls

2. Keep it clean. Too many unnecessary additions can make a ceramic piece feel dated. For example, think about heavy baroque curlicues look today—completely overwhelming. That’s why Gogo’s ceramics don’t have much in terms of ornamentation in either glaze or shaping. Purity of line is much more likely to last, whether in ceramics, furniture, or clothing.

3. Take risks. Of course, you can’t be a slave to tradition if you want to innovate. The single dominant color of Gogo Mexican pottery feels classic, but the shapes are more playful (like Gogo’s espresso cups). Experimentation can lead to lovely design, so give yourself time to play.

Posted on

Pinterest Finds: Mexican Ceramics

Love Pinterest? The new look is pretty great, making it easy to find all kinds of incredible things. I’ve been exploring Mexican ceramics to add to the Emilia Ceramics Mexico board and wanted to share some of my favorite findings with you.  The new Pinterest doesn’t have the incredibly easy sharing feature it used to, so simply click on images to take you to the original pin, complete with credentials.

We’ll start with Mexico City.

I love these colorful Mexican ceramic plates, but the majolica toilet might be a bit much.

Mexican ceramics pair beautifully with Mexican food (no surprise, right?). Just check out this salsa set up. And a blue and white plate is the perfect compliment for mole.

Of course, some of my favorite Mexican ceramics are those made by Gorky Gonzalez.

Gorky Gonzalez PlatesGorky Gonzalez Pottery

Mexico itself is a stunningly beautiful place.

I think Capelo‘s unique Mexican ceramics are just as beautiful as the views from his studio!

Capelo Ceramics

Capelo Mexican ceramics

Then there are Talavera Vazquez’s ginger jars

And, of course, there’s always the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) full of colorful and almost friendly-seeming skulls.

Have some Mexican-themed pins of your own? Share the link in a comment below to your favorite pins or boards so we can check them out. And follow Emilia Ceramics for the latest new Mexican ceramics, decorating ideas, and more!

Posted on

Mexican and Italian Roosters: Different Takes on an Old Tradition

For most of us, roosters conjure up ideas of an idyllic American farm in the country, with a red barn and welcoming atmosphere. But these proud birds carry a rich significance around the world, and one that goes beyond their status as an international alarm clock. Roosters are popular in legends, often symbolizing heroism and courage (such as the French coq gaulois, a symbol of France since Roman times). Unsurprisingly, then, roosters have made their way onto objects ranging from flags to plates to wine bottles, though what they stand for changes vastly with geography.rooster dip bowl

Take Gorky Gonzalez pottery, for example. This Mexican artist has almost single-handedly revitalized Mexico’s majolica tradition rooster platterincorporating Japanese, Spanish, Italian, and Indigenous-Mexican techniques with his studies of traditional Mexican pottery. The rooster, in many ways, reflects Gorky’s pride in his country and his craft. For example, strutting roosters often are featured on the silvered or golden botonadura (the buttons and chains that decorate a dress suit) worn by Mexican charros (horsemen) and mariachis, most likely invoking the tradition that roosters bring good luck. In fact, one of the traditions about white roosters in Mexico is that they bring good luck, so you should never kill them, though a rooster crowing at night is a sign of bad luck coming.

The roosters on Gorky Gonzalez pottery may be silent, but they still make an impact. His rooster plates feature proud birds, whether brilliantly multicolored or monochromatic, caught mid-strut or proudly crowing. On my last visit to Gorky’s workshop, I noticed a proliferation of these birds and was happy to add many of his one of a kind plates, bowls, and even ornaments to the Emilia Ceramics collection.

blue and white rooster tray

Roosters also bring good luck in Italy. A common manifestation of this Italian tradition is a rooster pitcher, often given as a housewarming present to protect against trespassers and danger. The legend goes that an assassination attempt on Guiliano Medici in the 15th rooster salad bowlcentury was foiled when roosters announced the attack. Medici had hundreds of rooster pitchers created by local potters to celebrate. Though the rooster is often found on pitchers, other Italian ceramics such as serving platters, bowls, plates, and mugs are also popular. Bartoloni’s roosters are vivid and lifelike, with rainbow colored tail feathers, and are always painted mid-crow. As I prepare to visit these Italian artists later this month, I will be on the lookout for more of their black rooster plates, another Chianti legend and symbol of the region.

From rooster plates to pitchers, mugs to bowls, these birds are certainly a great addition to traditional ceramics the world over. Do you know of any other traditions associated with roosters from around the world?

italian rooster pitcher

Posted on

Gorky Gonzalez

Play
Prev
Next
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.

View Gorky Gonzalez’s Work
See Other Artists

Posted on

We’re Ready for Summer Entertaining with Mexican Serving Dishes

Frog Cream and Sugar SetMemorial Day is just around the corner, and with it comes picnics and barbeques galore. Instead of reaching for paper plates, which can blow away in the wind and cause serving disasters, try using sturdy ceramics, like Mexican serving dishes. Your food will look better and be easier to handle as a result. No more worrying about if your burger will end up in your lap or your mouth.Mexican serving dish

I’m not the only one who loves Mexican serving platters for summer entertaining. As the weather has warmed up, I’ve been seeing a surge in orders for these party essentials. The long platter, part of Gorky Gonzalez’s Gogo collection, is ideal for grilled asparagus, raw veggie assortments, or cheese and crackers.

The handles on Mexican serving platters mexican serving platterby Talavera Vazquez make them ideal for passing meats fresh from the grill. Pasta salads or greens fit perfectly into one of Gorky’s cheerful serving bowls. And with Gogo dinner plates in a rainbow of colors, a fun, festive atmosphere was never easier to achieve.

But my favorite part of summer table décor are Gorky Gonzalez’s whimsical Mexican salt and pepper shakers. These are a fun way to season that corn on the cob or grilled steak. Quirky but not too crazy, I can’t get enough of these fantastic animals for any table setting inside or out. Bonus: use salt and pepper shakers to keep an outdoor tablecloth from blowing away before everyone sits down to feast. The blue and white chickens are quite popular (and lend themselves well to patriotic picnics like Memorial Day and Fourth of July), though all of these handpainted animal pairs has its own personality that’s definitely ready to party.

blue and white Mexican salt and pepper shakersmexican salt and pepper shakers

I can’t wait for my own Memorial Day grilling to start. With Mexican salt and pepper shakers, serving dishes, and the location set, all I need now is to figure out the menu! Here’s to a fun-filled holiday weekend; hope you enjoy it.

Posted on

Behind the Scenes: Capelo’s One of a Kind Mexican Ceramics

One of my favorite parts about my four years with Emilia Ceramics has been developing a rapport with ceramic artists all around the world. In this series of posts, I’ll give some insights into what happens behind the scenes to make these beautiful hand-painted ceramics come to life.Capelo

Whenever I visit Capelo’s studio and home on a hillside above Guanajuato, Mexico, I’m always struck by the beauty of the landscape. The rolling mountains with their winding roads are stunning. Capelo himself definitely appreciates the beautiful setting — he goes for almost daily horseback rides through the mountains to relax and enjoy!

hillsides around Guanajuato, Mexico

Capelo Capelo’s one of a kind ceramics are similarly stunning. They possess an unexpected, organic, and completely touchable quality that really sets them apart from other handmade ceramics. Capelo’s studio is one of the smaller ones that I work with at Emilia Ceramics, with only a handful of artists working alongside Capelo himself to create and paint these beautiful Mexican ceramics. Capelo is also a highly regarded architect and teaches classes at the University of Guanajuato, manages the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and executes special commissions. On my visit last June he showed me the gold “key to Guanajuato” he made to present to the Pope. Capelo excels at oil painting and mixed-media sculpture; he is a true artist — always creating something new and exciting.

One of the most striking parts of Capelo’s ceramics is their unusual shape. He makes something as simple as a bowl or vase seem completely new with curves which are accentuated by the gorgeous hand-painting on each piece.

Capelo insists on using only natural glazes, which give his Mexican ceramics a truly special touchable quality. Like Sylvie Durez, all his ceramics are one of a kind, painted in a recognizable range of signature colors. I always have a hard time choosing pieces from all the gorgeous possibilities available and am sad to see them go (but, of course, glad when they find happy homes). The last buying trip yielded striking statement vases, a collection of serving bowls and planters, massive pitchers, and a set of plates that remind me of an ever-changing kaleidoscope. Just like the landscape around the studio, Capelo’s ceramics is a small slice of Mexico that is hard to forget. I can’t wait for my next trip since I’m sure to find a whole new range of Mexican ceramics to fall in love with and share with all of you.

Capelo statement vase

footed serving bowllittle blue plateCapelo Mexican ceramics

Posted on

I Heart Gorky Gonzalez Pottery…

Gorky Gonzalez Pottery

Gorky Gonzalez Pottery
Yesterday, I placed a new order with Gorky Gonzalez, requesting more of our favorite rooster, fish, palm tree, and caballero patterns. We’re getting more dessert and salad plates, more blue and white serving dishes, more of Gogo’s red, white, and blue pieces for the 4th of July holiday. And as if to confirm all my new selections, today I found myself surrounded by Gorky’s beautiful Mexican ceramics.

Gorky Wall PlatesMexican Pottery

Gorky Gonzalez Pottery
You see I’m at my parents house for the weekend and my mom is a HUGE Gorky fan. She has Gorky soap dishes, Gorky dessert and salad plates (some she uses and others she hangs on the wall), serving bowls, serving plates, cream and sugar sets, salt and pepper sets, and even a few owl pitchers! Probably her favorite and most used piece is this long appetizer platter, which seems to be used at every meal.

El Mar Platter

Owl Pitchers

(We will have more of these amazing Owl pitchers in stock soon, by the way… stay tuned).

I love seeing all these amazing Gorky Gonzalez ceramics in use. They are so colorful, sunny, and cheerful. And each one is unique! Each rooster, tree, and fish has it’s own whimsical feel. While Gorky Gonzalez is Mexican, his wife Japanese, and his son (who now runs the business) a lovely mix of the two, I consider his ceramics to be the quintessential California pottery. And that’s another reason I can’t wait for the new pieces to arrive!

Posted on

Why are Ginger Jars so Popular as Decor?

Ginger jars may seem like the latest decorating trend, but these ceramics are truly steeped in history. Ginger jars originally were a way to ship and store spices, herbs, oil, and, yes, ginger, in China. While their exact origins are shrouded in mystery, the vessel became popular during the Qin Dynasty (221 BC–207 BC), Imperial China’s first ruling dynasty. Ginger jars became widely popular in the West in the 19th century, though their purpose changed from a functional shipping vessel to a decorative one for fine homes.

Somewhere along the way, ginger jars also became popular in Mexican ceramics. The gentle curves and playful designs differentiate these tibores (their Mexican name) from their Asian counterparts. Today few people use ginger jars to store dry goods or spices, turning these ceramics into decorative elements throughout the home instead. Dina at Honey + Fitz loves their statement piece appeal, particularly with bold chevrons. Natasha at My Luscious Life recently recommended ginger jars as a way to add timeless elegance to a room; with the wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors available they remain a popular choice for decoration.

However, ginger jars can be more than just decorative. Just take ginger jar lamps as one example. I’ll admit it, I’m currently a little obsessed with the decorative possibilities of ceramic ginger jar lamps, given our new arrivals. But I’m definitely not alone! Small accent lamps or large ginger jar lamps are ideal for bedrooms, offices, and living rooms alike.

Ginger jars also function well as vases, anchoring large bouquets beautifully. Bridelicious recommends using ginger jars as blue and white wedding décor, which I think is a great way to incorporate some stylish history on the big day. Ginger jars also work well to store potentially unsightly items out in plain sight. For example, a friend has a large ginger jar in her entryway that keeps a collection of plastic bags handy for when she walks her dog. I’ve also seen ginger jars lining kitchen counters holding flours, sugar, and other dry goods with style, just as they have for hundreds of years. Some design never gets old I suppose.

No matter where you use your ginger jars, you are sure to enjoy the results. What’s your take on these historic ceramics? Leave a comment and let us know.

Posted on

The Irresistible Charm of Blue and White Mexican Pottery

Blue and white pottery is steeped in tradition, going back centuries in China and the Middle East. Cobalt came from Persia to China in the 14th century, combining beautifully with the translucent white of porcelain. Just look at this plate from 13th century China; it looks like something you might find handpainted by a ceramic artist today.

Today’s blue and white serving ware is just as striking as the ceramics from the past. Though the antique feel of blue and white pottery continues to be popular for interior decorating, modern pieces also abound. Jonathan Alder, for example, creates playful designs on stacking porcelain platters with distinctly modern blue and white appeal.

With blue and white Mexican pottery, rustic charm meets modern aesthetics in the work of artists like Gorky Gonzalez. The playful patterns of these unique serving dishes mix well with other pottery platters, making your next meal or appetizer tray look even more appealing. The sloping sides of the El Mar oval serving dish are useful and the rounded corners of the rectangular Las Flores platter are unique.

These Mexican ceramics pair nicely with other pieces with the same border design or complement plain blue or white platters with ease.

Blue and white Mexican pottery by Gorky or Talavera Vazquez also plays with shapes. For example, the handles on Talavera’s blue and white serving dish make it simple to pass a roast. The curves on the end of this blue and white serving platter make it a piece that looks wonderful at the dinner table or decorating a console in the living room. Blue and white might be classic, but it is definitely still fresh in its appeal.

White on its own also gets updated in Mexican ceramics. Take our new chalk white square serving plate, part of the Gogo collection. This white platter is stunning in its deceptive simplicity. Other pieces in the same warm white – the long platter, oval serving dish, and dinner plate – further demonstrate how white platters can be anything but boring. Paired with deep blue dishware or another favored color, it’s easy to see how these unique serving dishes can steal the show!

Whether ancient or modern, intricately patterned or deceptively simple, blue and white is sure to please. What kind of blue and white serving platters do you love?

Chinese 13th century plate image courtesy of World Imaging.

Stacked tray image courtesy of jonathanadler.com via Emilia on Pinterest.

 

Posted on

Truly Unique Handmade Ceramics: Our Favorite One of a Kind Pieces

handmade ceramicsEven though all the ceramics in the Emilia Ceramics collection are handmade and handpainted, some artists focus on one of a kind ceramics more than others. Sylvie Durez’s French handmade ceramics are a perfect example. For her plates and bowls, she etches an original design onto the piece without a plan or pattern — then hand paints the piece, with women lounging, serene landscapes, or whatever else she fancies.

handmade ceramics: bowlmodern handmade ceramics

Every time I visit her Provence studio, choosing from all the many options can be quite challenging; often I wish I could just take them all!

Capelo also specializes in one of a kind handmade ceramics. He and his fellow artists in his Mexican workshop craft pieces with unusual shapes and truly touchable glazes. I especially love his vases. Take the Hawaiian vase: with its floral motifs and range of colors, this piece is beautiful empty on a shelf or full of flowers.

Hawaiian vaseCapelo’s unique bowls and trays are also fantastic examples of his one of kind work. They also make great gifts—with these handmade ceramics, you can be certain you won’t be giving something already in someone’s home.

handmade ceramic tray

Other artists, like Gorky Gonzalez and Richard Esteban, mix one of a kind pieces in with their regular handmade ceramic collections. For example, Gorky’s Catrina plates and the amor plate allow artists to get creative with their designs. I particularly love the El Pajaro bowl with its cheerful songbird. These pieces blend nicely with the rest of Gorky’s collection. They’re incredibly detailed, sharing border motifs, color palettes, and style with his other handmade ceramics.

amor platehandmade ceramic bowl

Richard’s one of a kind French handmade ceramics are also tied together by color and feel. Whether it’s a striking black tall pitcher, quirky polka dot planter, or striped serving platter, these ceramics definitely embody the spirit of his country home with a modern edge. I love his tall teal vase and its etching; this is another example of a vase that looks wonderful empty or full.

tall vaseblack pitcher

Of course, the one downside to all these handmade ceramics is once they are sold, they’re gone. It can be hard to not fall in love with every one, but if I kept them all, I’d have no room left in my home. That’s why I’m always happy to share them with you as well as hear from people about their new handmade ceramics when they receive them. Have a story about some handmade ceramics you love and how you use them? Comment below and please share it with us all!

Posted on

Making Handmade Mexican Pottery Truly Your Own

gorky_paintWith a laid-back charm, cheerful patterns, and vibrant colors, the handmade Mexican pottery from Gorky Gonzalez is the ideal blend of tradition and a unique, modern feel. These ceramics always make me think of Gorky’s bustling studio in Guanajuato with ceramics in every stage all over the place. Whether a red plate for serving or indigo bowls, contemporary serving platters or dinner plates with fanciful animal designs, Gorky pottery is one of my consistent best sellers here at Emilia Ceramics and it’s easy to see why given their innate appeal.

Unsurprisingly Gorky pottery is a popular choice for registries. People love using the variety of colors and patterns to create table settings that reflect their own aesthetic.

gorky pottery

Edge patterns, animal details, and solid colors create seemingly endless possible combinations. And since registries work by the piece, it’s simple to request exactly what you’d like: Like one of each color plate or a matched set of the Las Flores dinner plates.

dinner plate

red plate

But what if the pieces you want are out of stock? Or if you love a certain design but want it on a different piece? Then it’s time for a special order. Special orders are easy (especially with Gorky’s pieces), which means you can have your favorite animal design like Gorky’s fish or bird handpainted on your dinner plates or a set of cups and saucers with your favorite blue and white design around the edge; it’s another way to make handmade Mexican pottery your own (though all of the Emilia Ceramics artists can accommodate special orders if Italian or French ceramics are more your style). Just contact me with your desires and we’ll take it from there.

Sometimes I even get ideas for new pieces from customers. Take the Gogo salad plate. These came as a request of Jennie and Sean who were getting married and wanted the cheerful colors in a smaller size. I worked with Gorky and loved these plates so much that I made them part of the Emilia Ceramics collection. The result? Jennie and Sean’s cupboard is full of colorful Gorky pottery since their wedding about a year ago. The rainbow of colors just begs to be mixed and matched, from red plates to yellow mugs to blue bowls, totally fitting their style.

gogo_mugs_plates_bowls

I like to think that Emilia Ceramics makes a personal registry even more personal. With my close relationship with our artists, these kind of special requests are fairly easy to negotiate. Getting customers’ feedback is great because sometimes their idea or request can become the next best design idea or new piece in the collection. I think everybody involved from artist to customer loves it when that happens; I know I do!

gogo_mugs_plates

Posted on

Vases for Your Valentine from Around the World

Stuck on what to give your Valentine this year? The saying goes “say it with flowers.” Roses might be cliché, but they are certainly a traditional standby. Tulips are another colorful winter flower, as are daisies, irises, stargazer lilies, and orchids. No matter the flowers you pick, you’ll need the right vase to show off those blooms to full advantage. I think giving a vase with a bouquet is a great way to make a lasting statement beyond when the flowers themselves droop and die.

Of course, choosing the proper vase is its own task. It’s important to choose a vase that suits the flowers – a large vase might be ideal for roses or lilies, but dwarf delicate sprays of orchids. A big round vase balances a massive varied bouquet, but overwhelms a simple arrangement. Style is another key consideration – will the delicate flourishes of Italian vases be more appealing or the graphic boldness of a Mexican vase more appropriate?

With vases available from all parts of the world, it’s important to think about the style of your recipient. Do they tend towards minimalism and clean lines? If so, a solid colored vase with sleek styling, like this big round vase, is a good choice.

For those with a more ornate sensibility, a fancy vase with intricate patterning makes sense. The hand painting on vases from Italy makes them perfect for display even without flowers. I love this large vase with Tuscan fruits and curving handle detailing.

Color palettes also change with location. Mexican vases often have bright colors that really pop. An exception to this norm are vases by Capelo, whose soft colors are dreamlike and extremely touchable. His one of a kind Hawaiian vase with floral motifs and sloping sides makes a statement without taking up much space.

The Mexican vases by Talavera Vazquez, on the other hand, use rich cobalt, deep black, vibrant green, or burnt orange for their striped, zig-zag, and patterned vases. French vases by Richard Esteban also use deep colors, though his vases tend to use solid-colored glazes instead of patterning.

 

Will you give flowers and a fancy vase this year for Valentine’s Day? Have another go-to gift? Leave a comment and let us know!

Rose image courtesy of “KIUKO”.

Posted on

Rooster Ceramics from Around the World

What’s a motif you’ll find on ceramics almost anywhere in the world? Flowers are a good guess, as are geometric and abstract designs. But there’s another favorite design that might surprise you: rooster ceramics. From Mexico to France and Italy, proud roosters and sometimes chickens grace a variety of ceramics, both decorative and functional.

Italian roosters are probably the most refined of the bunch. Painstakingly detailed with realistic coloring, the Italian rooster pitcher by Ceramiche Bartoloni is a typical example of this rooster type.

Italian rooster pitcher

Even though this rooster looks almost the same on their rooster serving dishes and platter, the hand painting gives each piece a unique attitude with variations in the comb and waddle.rooster bowl

Mexican roosters, in contrast, are more fanciful than their Italian ceramic counterparts. Gorky Gonzalez’s colorful rooster plate is similar to the Italian rooster in details, but feels more like a watercolor sketch, with looser lines (though still definitely proud and tall!).

rooster plate

Then there are blue and white rooster plates, like this octagonal serving dish, which showcase a monochromatic bird on the strut.

blue and white rooster ceramic

Gorky’s three-dimensional rooster ceramics are definitely an excellent mix of fun and realism. The large blue and white rooster sits proudly on a shelf or countertop, and the rooster pitchers and creamers add whimsy and color to the table. Unlike the standard color palette of Italian roosters, these Mexican pieces often have a completely different color combination, making each rooster ceramic totally unique.

Rooster Creamers at Emilia Ceramics

In France, roosters are a mix of refined detail and playful whimsy. Quimper ceramics offer excellent examples of roosters, often in blue. “Le coq gaulois” is an important French symbol that dates back to Roman times and is used today as a sport mascot for French soccer and rugby teams. Some good examples of Quimper rooster plates can be found here and sculptural pieces here. French roosters are fighters and it shows, like in the proud rooster strutting below.

Choisy rooster

What are your favorite rooster ceramics? Are you a fan of chicken décor in general? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Crowing rooster image courtesy of hans s.

French rooster plate image courtesy of Patrick.charpiat.