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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 >>

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Where do your favorite ginger jars come from?

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3 Reasons Why These Wine Cups Will Improve Your Summer

I have outdoor dining on the brain – blame it on the sunshine and rising temperatures. But decorative dinner plates are just the beginning; drinks are another vital part of any summer meal. Tired of plastic cups that fly away and glasses that shatter due to a guest miscalculating the distance between guest and deck railing? Enter Ceramica Valenciana‘s smart Spanish ceramic drinkware. Here are three reasons why these are the wine cups that will change your outdoor entertaining.

spanish ceramics from ceramica valenciana

1. The laws of physics. A lower center of gravity means these cups are less likely to tip, especially when compared to a traditional wine glass with stem.

spanish ceramic wine cups

2. Durable style. Because of the majolica firing process used to make these Spanish ceramics, if they tip over or drop a short distance, they probably won’t break (like glass would). Plus, their clean lines and simple designs are picnic-perfect chic.

3. Temperature control. Best of all, the solid ceramic helps keep your beverage cool on the hottest day, whether it’s a glass of sparkling water or homemade sangria.

spanish ceramics

Outdoor entertaining just got a lot easier. Looking to add more Spanish flair to your summer? Besides the cleverly labeled vino and aqua cups (helpful for telling your wine and water apart), I love Ceramica Valenciana’s serving dishes, pitchers, and platters. Causal and clean, these Spanish ceramics definitely stand out from the rest. Now that’s something worth raising a glass to!

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Craving Tapas? Add Spanish Ceramics for Delicious Results!

One of my favorite things about Spain are the tapas bars. Endless small plates, delicious wine… it’s a great way to spend an evening or afternoon with friends. Or in my case, the perfect way to unwind after looking at endlessly beautiful ceramics at Ceramica Valenciana. This same causal vibe is one of the reasons Spanish dinnerware is so popular; the ceramics are just as delicious as the food they serve!

Traveling to Spain not in your immediate future? Why not throw a tapas party? The individual elements are fairly simple and the result is a lovely way to spend time with people you enjoy. Here’s what you’ll need for tapas success at home:

Spanish MusicScreen Shot 2014-02-17 at 11.15.42 PM

The right music instantly sets the atmosphere. And for a real Spanish party, there’s nothing like Flamenco. I’ll never forget how when I lived in Sevilla, Spain, I’d walk into tiny little bars and find people playing the guitar and singing Flamenco casually in the corner. This photo shows just that — the whole bar would all start singing along, clapping, and occasionally dancing too.

For your own tapas party, you can’t go wrong with Flamenco music. If you have it in your collection, the Gipsy Kings will do, and if not, use Pandora’s traditional Spanish station, one of the many internet radio stations on iTunes, or a similar streaming service for the right grooves. Keep the music low so that people can easily talk over it. Music done.

Spanish Food

This quirky post on The Paupered Chef outlines just how easy it is to make food for a tapas party. Some delicious Spanish ham (Serrano if you can find it), olives, cheese, and bread provides your base. A tortilla espanol (basically a potato omelet served at room temperature) is another staple. Sausages, shrimp, grilled bread with a variety of spreads and tapenades, marinated mushrooms… the list goes on and on. Check out Real Simple, Martha Stewart, and All Recipes for more tapas ideas and recipes. Food done.

Spanish tapas

Spanish Ceramics

The real workhorses of a tapas evening, Spanish ceramics will make all your delicious treats look their best for your guests. A variety of small plates and serving platters are key, as are bowls for dips and spreads. Also have a stack of small plates for your guests to load up with their favorite bites (if everyone is moving around the room) as well as plenty of napkins. Ceramica Valenciana has a host of serving pieces, from little plates to salsa bowls, that are perfect for tapas. Spanish dinnerware done.

Spanish ceramicssalsa bowls

Spanish Wine

Make a bowl of Sangria with red wine, fruit, and brandy (do this at least one day ahead so everything can soak for maximum flavor. Or head for your favorite Spanish wine bottles: Rioja and Priorat are classic Spanish reds. Or go for the sparkles of cava, a crisp Spanish white, or even a rosé. As one of the top wine producers in the world, there’s plenty of wine to choose from. Drinks done!

Now all you need to do is add the people and you have a tapas party all without heading to Spain. ¡Que aproveche!

Tapas images courtesy The Travelling Bum and heatheronhertravels.

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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.

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New Spanish Ceramics, Just in Time for the Holidays

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After all the wait, I’m thrilled to announce that the newest addition to the Emilia Ceramics collection has arrived just in time holiday gift-giving. These handmade Spanish ceramics from Ceramica Valenciana are playful and sophisticated, showcasing a stark simplicity with clean, modern lines. A family-owned business, Ceramica Valenciana is one of the reasons I started Emilia Ceramics years ago. We’re still unpacking the boxes, but here’s a quick look at what has been unwrapped so far.

blue and white mugsThe blue and white mugs are currently some of my favorites. With gently curved handles and handpainted blue glaze, the designs really stand out. I love how you can see the brush strokes on the blue and white checkered mug; the café mug and mug are perfect for anyone who loves coffee or tea first thing in the morning. And the labeled pots for coffee or tea help the caffeine flow all morning long.

coffee and tea mugs
ceramic coffee pot
Ceramica Valenciana has a whole collection of ceramics that are clearly labeled for easy identification; these coffee and tea sets are just the beginning. Anyone who loves wine will appreciate the vino cups with their rustic flair.

vino cupsThe aqua pitcher and cups round out the set, serving water in an equally stylish manner. Definitely these are great gifts for anyone who loves to entertain.

serving pitcherThe three canister styles are another example of practical Spanish ceramics. Labeled pastas, garbanzos, and arroz, these gently rounded canisters will keep anything looking good on your countertop (including pasta, beans, and rice). I think they would make excellent unexpected cookie jars too.

blue and white canisterWe’ll be getting even more serving pieces from Ceramica Valenciana on the website soon, so make sure and check back for updates as more Spanish ceramics appear over the coming weeks. Otherwise explore our holiday gift ideas as we count down the days until Christmas.

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Spanish Ceramics Coming Soon from Ceramica Valenciana

spanish ceramics from ceramica valenciana
I’ve gotten photos of my new Spanish ceramics from Mari Jose, the third-generation owner of Ceramica Valenciana. After months of waiting, the newest addition to the Emilia Ceramics collection is almost here! I’m incredibly excited and am hopeful that these beautiful Spanish ceramics will arrive before the end of 2013. Luckily, they’re worth the wait!

cocina spanish ceramic Spanish ceramic butter dish spanish ceramic bottlesAs many of you know, Ceramica Valenciana is one of the inspirations behind the founding of Emilia Ceramics. The studio’s full name is La Cerámica Valenciana de José Gimeno and it’s located near Valencia in Manises, Spain. This famous maker of Spanish ceramics has been in business since 1925 and is still family owned. Their work is the perfect combination of innovation and tradition with a uniquely Spanish spirit. Every time I visit their studio I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of patterns, colors, shapes, and unique ceramics that I’ve never seen anywhere else. It’s truly a wonderful place to spend time.

spanish ceramic salsa bowlsvino wine pitcherCeramica Valenciana is best known for reproductions of traditional ceramics and azulejos (tiles), crafted with love and expertise by their team of artists using traditional majolica techniques. Their modern line still is completely handmade and handpainted, with bowls, plates, serving pieces, canisters, and other Spanish ceramics that have a clean, understated feel. The upcoming arrivals are pictured below being packed up with care. I am trying to not obsessively email reminding them to over pack everything so that nothing breaks. These Spanish ceramics look so great it would be a shame to have them arrive in fragments… so here’s to the magic of good packing material and quality shipping companies. The pitchers and bowls alone are certainly worth waiting for. I can’t wait to share them all with you in the coming months!
packing Spanish ceramics
Spanish ceramics

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Ceramica Valenciana: Spanish Ceramics Update

Work schedules are very different in Europe and the United States, especially when it comes to vacation time. It’s very common for businesses to close for weeks in the summer or even the entire month of August. What does this have to do with Spanish ceramics? Well, let’s just say that due to vacation schedules, my order from Ceramica Valenciana (a famous maker of Spanish ceramics and one of the reasons I was inspired to start Emilia Ceramics in the first place) now looks like it will arrive in fall, not summer. (Who am I kidding… let’s just hope it’s here by Christmas!)

But even though I don’t have any pieces by Ceramica Valenciana in stock yet doesn’t mean I can’t give you a sneak peak at what to expect in a few months. The full name of Ceramica Valenciana is La Cerámica Valenciana de José Gimeno and it’s been in business since 1925. This family-run business makes a full range of Spanish ceramics. Most famous for tiles (known as Azulejos in Spain) and reproductions of traditional pieces from the 18th century, they also do many modern pieces, from lamps and canisters to dishes and bowls. What I love about their work is how it combines tradition, innovation, and a fun Spanish spirit.

The quality work at Ceramica Valenciana hasn’t gone unnoticed. They won the Manises “Qualitat i Disseny” award in 1994, 1997, and 2000; the Alfa Gold Award in 1980, 2000, and 2002; and the NOVA for craft (the highest award from the Generalitat Valenciana) in 2006. They also worked with architect D. Santiago Calatrava to construct two huge murals for the Palace of Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia. This dramatic performing arts space is truly stunning; check out their virtual tour and see if you can find the two murals inside.

But even with all these modern accolades, the artists at Ceramica Valenciana still stick to their traditional majolica methods. Pieces are all handmade and hand-painted, which gives every plate, bowl, jar, and vase a truly unique character. Archive footage from 1940 shows José Gimeno himself working on large pieces – check out this video (in Spanish) to see more for yourself. The film quality feels to me like a film noir, but covering Spanish ceramic production. (Fun fact: the factory in the film is the same building that Ceramica Valenciana still occupies today. I’ve been to visit 3 times and it is an old but absolutely stunning building housing endless amounts of ceramic masterpieces.)

http://video.google.es/videoplay?docid=3822281691113565574&hl=es

Even though technology has changed in so many ways, the methods to make these beautiful ceramics have remained the same for hundreds of years. Now that Ceramica Valenciana is almost back from vacation, I look forward to finalizing my order and being able to share their gorgeous Spanish ceramics with you in the near future. Here are a few of my favorite pieces to whet your appetite…

Images and video courtesy of La Cerámica Valenciana de José Gimeno.

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My Obsession with Majolica Dinnerware, Fine Italian Ceramics, Spanish Pottery, and More!

My love of Spanish pottery and fine Italian ceramics is long-standing and one of the reasons I began Emilia Ceramics. While living in Southern Spain, I saw gorgeous pieces of pottery (plates, cups, and bowls were only the beginning) being used everyday that were just as unique as the people using them. I realized that I couldn’t use all the pieces I thought were beautiful, but knew that there were others who would love them too. And thus Emilia Ceramics came into being.

Now my collection includes fine Italian ceramics, Tuscan pottery, as well as ceramics from France and Mexico. I’m excited because it looks like I’ll be adding Spanish pottery (by Ceramica Valenciana) to the Emilia Collection by the end of the summer (crossing my fingers about how shipping times work out). All these pieces emerge from the same roots and display similar techniques — resulting in majolica dinnerware and accessories that have distinctively “fat glazes,” vibrant colors, and unique designs that vary not only from region to region, but also from artist to artist.

But while I love these new pieces being produced today, what about vintage pottery? Collectors of Quimper, Fiestaware, majolica from Deruta and Faenza, as well as other fine Italian ceramics know what I’m talking about. A friend sent me a link to some Portuguese pottery she’d found made by SECLA (this espresso cup was my favorite piece) and it got me thinking about how designs and glazes have both changed and stayed the same for all these years. Just look at these Portuguese pottery tiles, ashtrays, and vases designed by Ferreira da Silva. Most of them are from the 1950s, yet their modern lines and fun designs could come out of an artist’s studio today.

That’s one of the reasons I love all kinds of pottery – they hold timeless appeal. Fine Italian ceramics become heirlooms, whether it’s a plate or a lamp. Majolica dinnerware graces the table for decades since its sturdy construction holds up quite nicely to the rigors of daily use. Not only does Tuscan, French, Mexican, and Spanish pottery look great, it’s functional and stylish. No wonder I keep finding artists whose pieces I love to add to the Emilia Collection!

Portuguese pottery image courtesy of R.Ferrao.

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What Sets Fine Italian Ceramics Apart?

There are many diehard lovers of Italian ceramics out there, and for good reason. Whether it’s Tuscan pottery or a piece from Sicily, there is just something about Italian ceramics that sets it apart from the other other forms of maiolica-type wares being made elsewhere.

The majolica technique itself still flourishes throughout the world, seen most often in Portuguese, French, Mexican, and Spanish pottery. While the majolica process varies little between countries and hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years, there’s definitely a wide variety of results.

Both Spanish and Portuguese pottery have long been recognized for their gorgeous tiles, in addition to their tableware. Called azulejos, these glazed tiles decorate large swathes of Portuguese buildings from churches to houses to train stations and their use dates back to the 15th century. The geometric patterns and later figurative motifs create stunning mural-like decoration in the most unexpected places. Truly beautiful and useful, the tiles also help with temperature control.Igreja da Misericórdia de Tavira - Azulejos

The tradition behind both Portuguese and Spanish pottery (as well as most of the Mediterranean region) started when Arabs introduced the technique in 711. An important coastal town for centuries, Valencia remains a major center of Spanish pottery and I’m still hoping to start carrying pieces by some artists from there in the near future (stay tuned).

So how is Italian Majolica different? I believe it is a combination of excellent artists (many of whom have dedicated their entire lives to perfecting the craft) and the traditional designs which generations of Italians have enhanced, individualized, and improved upon. Tuscan pottery is what many people picture when it comes to fine Italian ceramics. From the noble tradition behind the wares made in Montelupo Fiorentino to more commonly found pieces from Deruta, the bright colors, practical shapes, and ineffable charm truly put Italian ceramics in a class of its own. Who can resist the cheerful lemons, proud roosters, and rustic flowers that decorate plates and other majolica dinnerware from Tuscia d’Arte and Ceramiche Bartoloni?

Italians are masters at blending art and function to create masterpieces that are beautiful and unique. But just as Italian ceramics stay near and dear to our hearts, there’s no reason to overlook the gorgeous producers of ceramics in Portugal, Spain, France and Mexico. Among all these individual traditions there’s sure to be a majolica-inspired pottery that’s just right for your home.

Azulejos image courtesy of Concierge.2C.

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‘An American in Paris’ was Only the Beginning: Living Vicariously with French Home Décor and European Design

America has always looked to Europe for the latest trends in fashion and home décor. From gowns by Charles Worth (an Englishman working in Paris) starting the trend for Haute Couture in the 19th century to our modern day fascination with Hermes, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton, European style adds instant cachet. As we know, fashion is more than just clothes, and this influence can be felt in everything from Italian ceramics to French home décor to Scandinavian design.

While looking at all those design blogs, I came across one that bridges the gap across the Atlantic. Decor8 is written by an American currently living in Germany, who brings together inspiring design from these as well as other countries. Her recent trip to Amsterdam made me long to be walking along the canals and eating at the small cafes. I know I’m not alone as an American pining for a European lifestyle that seems synonymous with a relaxed attitude and stylish way of life.

By importing European style, are we also trying to import a way of life? Will using French home décor make my home a small slice of France, complete with long lunches, an appreciation for fine food, and consistently delicious coffee? Or by using Italian ceramics, will I channel Tuscan sunsets, rustic aesthetic, and friendly bonhomie?

Why not? Personally, I think that having a long break at lunch instead of rushing to wolf down a sandwich while trying to catch up on emails is much more civilized. My friends in Paris tell me that more and more the business world there is becoming “Americanized” – I wonder how much the fight for the 35-hour workweek in France was in response to this fear. It seems that everyone associates a better quality of life with Europe, so it makes sense that we’d all like to hold onto it. Europeans do this by setting up safeguards against sweeping changes in lifestyle, Americans by adopting Swedish, Italian or French home décor to create a private European oasis.

So how can you bring some of this European flair to your abode? Draw on inspirations from your own European travels. A mix of fabrics, furniture designs, and accessories (like Spanish and Italian ceramics, Belgian linen, or Swedish lamps) takes what inspires you most about Europe and makes it truly personalized. Whether it’s sleek Scandinavian furniture or ornate Louis XV rococo, Parisian chic or Provencal rustic, French (or Spanish or Danish) home décor is certainly here to stay.

Cafe image courtesy of LenDog64.

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More from Valencia

I would happily move into La Ceramica Valenciana.  Those of you who have seen my apartment think I have a lot of ceramics… well you haven’t seen anything until you’ve toured the workshop and showrooms at La Ceramica Valenciana.  From the outside, it looks modest — the surroundings in little Manises (right outside Valencia) are nothing special — but inside is like an old museum dedicated to beautiful tiles and every size, shape, and color of ceramic piece you can imagine.

I have visited on 4 separate occasions and I continue to be totally amazed by it.  No matter how long you stand in one of the many display rooms, it seems you can always find something new — a pattern, color combination, etc. that you had never noticed before.  As you could imagine, this makes my job of selecting a sampling of my favorite pieces both extremely difficult and super fun. 

Despite the challenge, after about 3 hours with Mari José yesterday, I finally had a good list together of pieces for the Emilia Ceramics collection.  I’ve chosen a number of my favorite plates with subjects like the funny animal at the start of this posting, women, boats, birds and flowers.  Of course, we’ll also have pitchers, mugs, and bowls that are painted in the same bright, bold colors.  I love the way these pieces are both whimsical and traditional, simultaneously.  They’re fun, fresh and yet expertly made.  Speaking of which, I got a private showing from Melchor Zamora, the most senior potter at La Ceramica Valenciana.

Oh and I forgot to mention some of my favorite pieces… the labeled serving pieces.  Here’s a little sampling of the fun pitchers, canisters, and bowls we all have to look forward to.

I leave Valencia this morning and below are my parting shots, which I couldn’t resist sharing with you.  The first is of a parking lot right around the corner from La Ceramica Valenciana… when I finished my shopping spree I was confronted with this amazing sky.  The second photo shows a billboard for Cruz Campo (my favorite Spanish beer) peeking out above the lovely orange trees.

I’ve had a great time in this “ceramic city,” but am excited for the next leg of my journey… today I head to Larios, a workshop outside Murcia (about 3 hours south of hear).  I don’t know anything about Larios, but will definitely keep you posted!