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Gift Ideas for Celebrating The Special Women in Your Life

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While the month of May brings many things – warmer weather, the end of the school year, Memorial Day getaways, and summer vacation planning – the most important is probably the celebration of mothers. But what’s the best way to communicate our appreciation and gratitude to those special women who gifted us life? While many kids and husbands tend to defer to the typical stand-by’s of flowers, brunch or jewelry, we recommend taking a moment to consider what would best support her and her unique lifestyle.

Outdoor Enthusiast

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Watering Jug – Yellow and Exposed Terracotta by Richard Esteban (Aigues-Vives, France)

For the special mom in your life who would prefer to spend her free time outside, your gift opportunities are plentiful. Maybe she’s longing for a weekend retreat to the great outdoors, in which case, you could make the trip possible or buy some supplies for the experience. Need some ideas? REI suggests a list of ways to incorporate nature into the celebration.

If backyard patio time is more her style, you might find the right gift item amongst our Garden and Patio pieces. You could consider making a date to take your mom to the nursery and then surprise her with a planter, (the Round Paloma Planter is a personal favorite). Or if gardening isn’t her thing, try this one-of-a-kind Gorky Gonzalez Hurricane Candleholder – she can enjoy it on the patio all summer long.

Crunched for Time

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Deruta Salt & Pepper Set by Ceramiche Gialletti Giulio (Deruta, Italy)

If the mom you have in mind spends her days rushing to and fro, the gift of relaxation is always appreciated. Gifting a massage or pedicure encourages her to take a moment for herself, when she can leave her worries behind. Another way to pamper the hard-working mom in your life is to cook her dinner, clean her car, or anything else that would make her day easier and more enjoyable.

If you’re looking for a tangible gift for the mom with too much to tend to, consider common-sense items, such as the Deruta Oil & Vinegar set, a set of Blue Stripe Mixing Bowls, or a Large Pomegranate Pitcher.

If it’s just too hard to predict what she will find useful, an Emilia Ceramics gift card is a no-fail option. Then she can decide which beautiful piece she needs and wants most.

Dinner Party Host

Thankfully, there really is no way to go wrong when picking out gifts for the woman who loves to host. We’ve written in previous posts about considering an individual’s personality when gift giving, but it’s also important to remember her décor style. Here are a few of our favorite collections for those who love to have party guests:

Separate from these collections, a few of my favorite entertaining items include the La Fiesta Round Serving Dish or a set of the Little Square Plates in Blue.

Whether the special woman you’re celebrating this May fits into one of these categories or not, we expect you’ll find any number of relevant options here. We’ll leave you with just one reminder – spend a little time to find something that suits her unique personality and she’ll know just how much you care.

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Best Wedding Gifts

It’s May, which means wedding season is officially underway! I love weddings, especially those that really exude the personality of the couple getting married. When I choose a wedding gift, I try to mirror that individuality by picking a gift that is uniquely fitting for the bride and groom. The best wedding gifts reflect the couple’s originality and show that you were thinking specifically of them when you picked it out.

Of course, some couples you know better than others. It’s easy to pick out a thoughtful and unique gift for your best friend… a little more difficult to be really creative with a coworker or second cousin who you barely know.

Here’s my guide to the best wedding gifts, based on things like age, life-stage, and general interests.

Twenty-Something + First Real Home = Italian Pitcher or Vase

These are the types of statement pieces that work with any style and become instant family heirlooms.
Left: Small Cherry Pitcher by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia
Right: Venice Fruit Vase by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia

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Small Home + Already Have “Necessities” = Salad Bowl

Because everyone can use a cool salad bowl (and they double as fruit bowls between salads).
Left: La Fiesta Salad Bowl by Talavera Vazquez
Right: Large Mixing Bowl with Blue Stripes by Gorky Gonzalez.

mexican pottery salad bowlblue and white ceramic salad bowl

Older Couple + Established Home = Beautiful Serving Platter

These classic Italian serving platters elevate any meal and can also be hung on the wall for decoration.
Left: Rectangular Serving Platter – Tuscan Fruit by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia
Right: Oval Serving Platter – Lemons on Red by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia

italian ceramic platteritalian ceramic platter with lemons

Couple Who Loves to Entertain = Cheese Plate or Vino Pitcher

These pieces have tons of unique personality that will compliment any party.
Left: Cheese Plate in Lime Green by Richard Esteban
Right: Antique Vino Pitcher by Ceramica Valenciana

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Contemporary Style + Colorful Personalities = Large Vase for Long Stems

A colorful, tall vase has a small foot print, but makes a big impact.
Left: Large Burnt Orange ZigZag Vase by Talavera Vazquez
Right: Blue Striped Vase Especial by Talavera Vazquez

zigzag vase orange chevronblue and white striped vase

Modern Esthetic = Bold White Decor

For the minimalist couple, these hand-crafted pieces add subtle character to a modern landscape.
Left: White Footed Bowl by Ceramica Valenciana
Right: Chalk White Long Platter with Floral Relief by Gorky Gonzalez

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If you don’t know where to start, I suggest looking at a couples’ registry online. Even if you don’t want to buy what’s listed, it will give you an idea of their style preferences and what they need. Have questions about buying the best wedding gifts? Call or email us… we’d love to discuss some options with you.

See all our Wedding Gift Ideas Here >>

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Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Ohhh Valentine’s Day… The holiday of love that either makes you excited or just plain annoyed. Valentine’s Day is a romantic, sweet holiday designed to show the people you love how much you care about them. And while this is a great gesture, let’s be realistic: It can be stressful! If you’re married or in a committed relationship, you may have a jump start on what your loved one would enjoy for this holiday. Flowers, chocolates, a romantic fancy dinner, or maybe a fantastic bottle of wine? While you’re contemplating your plans, let us help with some meaningful, thoughtful Valentine’s gift ideas that will be sure to please any and all loved ones in your life.

 

1. A Gorgeous Vase

A vase filled with stunning flowers is a beautiful, meaningful gift that will be sure to please. Whether for your special someone, best friend, or parent – there really isn’t anyone who won’t enjoy a beautiful vase of flowers. And while flowers can feel a bit cliche for Valentine’s Day, a gorgeous vase won’t! Pair a stunning ceramic vase with a flower arrangement and your loved one will have a gift they can enjoy for months to come. Bright florals including pink, yellow, red, and white really make a statement in a ceramic vase. Thankfully, Emilia Ceramics has vases in various colors and designs – so you’re sure to find something you love! Check out some of my personal favorites below.

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Shop our entire Vase Collection here >>

 

2. A Beautiful Jewelry Box

Jewelry is another typical gift for Valentine’s Day. And while you can never really go wrong with jewelry, why not combine it with a stunning jewelry box? Give the perfect gift of jewelry with an element of surprise – your special someone will be sure to ooh and ahh and enjoy every time they see it. Here are some colorful and unique jewelry boxes:

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Shop our Jewelry Box Collection here >>

 

3. A Fabulous Dessert Plate

Chocolate is another go-to gift for Valentine’s Day. While giving chocolate can feel very cliche, the truth is, everyone loves chocolate! So why not forget the heart-shaped box and instead, give someone you love some delicious chocolate (or any other sweet) beautifully displayed on a fabulous, handcrafted dessert plate. Handmade by our exclusive artists, simple dark chocolate becomes a generous, thoughtful gift when it’s placed on a decorative and meaningful dessert plate… Making it the perfect gift for friends and family!

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Shop our entire Dessert Plate Collection here >>

 

How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day this year? Any creative gift ideas you’d like to share?

 

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Gift Guide Part IV: Gifts for Your Special Someone

Whether you’ve just started dating someone special, been together a few years, or have been married half your life, picking an original, thoughtful gift can be tough! It’s enough to make you want to forget the whole thing. But don’t despair… I’ve got a few ideas that’ll make a big statement, at a variety of price points. Hopefully, you’ll find just the thing to wow your special someone.

For Her: An Italian Footed Platter

Looking to splurge on a statement piece that shows just how much you love her? A classic Italian footed platter is a unique gift that will be sure to surprise and impress! A footed platter looks gorgeous filled with fruit or as a sophisticated centerpiece on the dining room table. Every time she looks at this handcrafted work of art, she’ll think of you and feel loved. Handmade by Ceramiche Bartoloni and Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia in Tuscany, starting at $145.

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Above: Foglia e Frutta Footed Platter by Ceramiche Bartoloni, $145.

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Above: Pomegranate Footed Platter by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia, $185.

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Above: Tuscan Fruit Footed Platter by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia, $185.

Shop all Italian platters here >>

For Her: A Fun and Festive Mexican Vase

Starting at just $48, these vases are bold, colorful, and totally unique to the Emilia Ceramics collection. The small round vase doubles as a makeup brush holder, the medium size vase looks amazing with tulips, and the largest makes a statement on its own and filled with long-stem roses or sunflowers. Your only decision is color — Is her style cheerful, bright, and sunny? If so, opt for the yellow or burnt orange vases. Is she more of a traditionalist? Go with blue and white. And if she’s more contemporary, then a black and white vase is an easy choice. You really can’t go wrong with these Mexican vases, handmade by Talavera Vazques.

 

 

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Above: Clockwise from left Yellow Striped Round Vase; Burnt Orange Striped Vase; Black Striped Vase – Especial; Large Blue ZigZag Vase. Shop the entire Vase Collection Here >>

For Her: An Original, Meaningful Mug

Does she love her coffee time in the morning? Or cherish a cup of tea before bed? Make those moments even more special by giving her a one-of-a-kind, handmade mug that reminds her of you every time she uses it! Here are a few of our favorite mugs, starting at $20:

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Above: Cherry Red & White Mugs by Gorky Gonzalez, $20 each.

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Above: Cherry Mug by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia, $48 each.

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Above: Blue Striped Mug by Talavera Vazquez, $34 each.

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Above: Polka-dot Mugs by Richard Esteban, $90 for the pair. Also available individually.

Shop the entire Mug Collection Here >>

For Him: A Functional Serving Plate

Lots of guys like hosting their friends, but they don’t want to make a big fuss about it. Help him make the most of his chips & guac, cheese spread, or barbecued meats with these platters:

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Above: This is the perfect oval dish for chips and salsa, guacamole, or any other dip. La Azteca Oval Dish and Matching Dip Bowl by Gorky Gonzalez, $84 for the set.

 

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Above: This richly-glazed French platter will elevate any cheese spread. Medium Cheese Plate in Barn Red by Richard Esteban, $145.

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Above: The Pomegranate Oval Serving Platter (or any other Italian platter for that matter) dresses up any meal, making even sausage look sophisticated! By Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia, $165.

For Him: Pottery with Personality

These unique pieces will surely bring a smile to his face… and remind him of your love whenever he’s using them.

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Above: The Tequila Shot Set by Gorky Gonzalez ($58) might encourage a little too much tequila-drinking, but at least it’s beautifully handmade and painted, exuding tons of Mexican charm!

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Above: The simplicity of these Spanish Cups by Ceramica Valenciana is what makes them so stylish. $46 for the set, also available individually.

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Above: Does he love salsa? For the guy who can never have enough salsa, these bowls are sure to be a big hit! Pair of Salsa Bowls by Ceramica Valenciana, $56 (also available individually).

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Above: Whether he’s a lover of everything Italian or he’s always dreamed of drawing his sword on horseback, this beautifully-painted, one-of-a-kind piece will show him how much you love and appreciate his colorful sense of humor. Harlequin Tile with Horseman by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia, $285.

Be sure to check out our first three gift guides as well:

Gifts for Under $50 >>
Fabulous Gift Ideas for Under $100 >>
The Perfect Gift for Mom >>

 

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Gift Guide Part III: The Perfect Gift for Mom

Christmas is quickly approaching! While we are running around trying to buy the perfect gifts for everyone we care about, let’s not forget the most important, caring, and loving people in our lives: our moms! Read on to see thoughtful gift ideas for our one-of-a-kind mothers and mothers-in-laws.

 

1. Tuscan Vase

A hand-painted Tuscan vase is an easy, yet super generous gift for either your mom or mother-in-law. This classic piece will add rich, colorful colors to any home… and you can be sure she’ll think of you every time she looks at it. Beautiful whether filled with flowers or on its own. Guaranteed to put you in good graces with mom! Handmade by Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia in Tuscany, $165.

Tuscan Fruit Vase

Featured Above: Tuscan Fruit Vase

Venice Fruit Vase

Featured Above: Venice Fruit Vase

italian vase

Featured Above: Rouen Colore Vase

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Featured Above: Blue Leaf Vase

Shop all Tuscan Vases >>

2. Tea Lovers

If your mom is a tea drinker, we have the perfect gift set for you. Nothing will make her happier on Christmas morning than opening a fabulous tea pot paired with beautiful tea cups! Starting at $32.

mexican cups and saucers

Featured Above: Terracotta Cup & Saucer $32.

Gorky Gonzalez Tea Pot

Featured Above: Gorky Gonzalez’s El Verano Tea Pot $98.

Blue and White Coffee Mugs

Featured Above: Cafe Mug, Te Mug, Blue and White Checkered Mug, Blue and White Floral Mug. $40

Black and White Tea Pot

Featured Above: Ceramica Valenciana Tea Pot $75.

Shop more gift ideas for tea drinkers >>

 

3. Sylvie Duriez Original French Bowls

These stunning mini bowls by French artist Sylvie Durez are truly one of a kind. With their unique detail and designs, your mom will get compliments for years to come. Perfect for serving dip or nuts when entertaining or used to keep special jewelry in the bedroom or bathroom. Your mom or mother-in-law is sure to cherish her charming little bowl and think of you often! Starting at $46.

French Bowl

Featured Above: Bird Among Pink Blossoms Mini Bowl.

French Bowl

Featured Above: Thoughtful Mini Bowl.

French Bowl

Featured Above: Kitten Pals Small Bowl.

French Bowl

Featured Above: Mouse Feast Small Bowl.

Shop the entire Sylvie Durez Collection here >>

 

4. Kitchen Decor

Is there a certain kitchen decor piece your mom is always wanting, but not apt to buy for herself? Why not help out, with a fabulous canister to place on the kitchen counter. Whether you’re looking for something she will use all the time or just for a fun flair to add to the kitchen, our canisters will be sure to please! Starting at $65, there’s a style to fit every woman’s kitchen.

black and white sugar canister

Featured Above: Azucar Canister.

blue and white canister

Featured Above: Arroz Canister.

Italian Spaghetti Canister

Featured Above: Tuscan Fruit Spaghetti Canister.

Italian Canister

Featured Above: Caffe – Small Pear Canister

Shop all Kitchen Canisters >>

 

Check out our first two gift guides:

Gift Guide I: Gifts for Under $50 >>
Gift Guide II: Fabulous Gift Ideas for Under $100 >>

… And coming up next, Gift Ideas for Your Special Someone. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gift Guide Part II: Fabulous Gift Ideas for Under $100

It’s turkey time! While you’re enjoying a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family, take a few moments to brainstorm what you’ll be buying them for Christmas or Hanukkah this year. Here to help is this week’s gift guide: Fabulous Gift Ideas for Under $100.


 1. Pitchers Galore

A stunning pitcher is guaranteed to add easy design and functionality to a loved one’s kitchen and home. Our variety of pitcher styles allows you to choose the perfect pitcher to add to your friend or mother’s extensive pitcher collection. Great for serving water, wine, milk, and olive oil… or filling with fresh flowers! Handmade by select artists in Italy, Spain, and Mexico. Starting at $56.

Pitchers

Shop Our Pitcher Collection Here >>

 

2. Garden Lovers

Is there a gardener on your gift list? You’ve come to the right place. There may be snow on the ground now, but spring is just around the corner. Give them the perfect gift for the blooming season with any of our colorful, fun planters. Handmade by Talavera Vazquez in Mexico. Starting at $58.

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Planters

Shop Our Planter Collection Here >>

 

3. Italian Soap Dishes

An easy, yet thoughtful gift, these stunning soap dishes add a touch of Italian sunshine to any bathroom or kitchen counter. Handmade by Ceramiche Bartoloni in Italy. Starting at $42.

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Shop Our Soap Dish Collection Here >>

 

4. Gorgeous Dishware

A stunning set of plates will be cherished for years to come and individual plates can be gifted over time to make up the set. These charger plates are the perfect gift for the person who likes sophisticated elegance – available in red, blue, orange, and green! Starting at $38.

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ChargerPlates

Shop Colorful Plates on Emilia Ceramics >>

And for those who are looking for a softer, more rustic look, our French dinner plates by Richard Esteban are sure to please. The endearing designs will add functionality and charm to your loved one’s home. Starting at $48.

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RichardEstebanPlates

Shop Our Entire Plate Collection Here >>

Have a hard-to-please friend or family member on your list? Don’t worry, we’ve got more gift guides coming in the next few weeks… Stay tuned!

 

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Gift Guide Part I: Gifts for Under $50

Well, it’s officially holiday season. We are quickly approaching December and that means holiday shopping, parties, delicious meals, time off from school and work, and spending time with loved ones. While it may not even be Thanksgiving yet, many of you are already brainstorming gift ideas for friends, coworkers, and loved ones. So over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving you gift ideas at different price points and tailored toward everyone on your list, starting with today’s theme: Gifts for Under $50.


1. Jewelry Boxes

A great gift to give your mom, sister, or best friend! With many different color schemes and designs to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect match. Hand-painted exclusively by Talavera Vazquez in Mexico. Starting at $24.

JewelryBoxes

Mexican Jewelry Boxes

Shop Our Jewelry Box Collection Here >>


 

2. Round Vases

Our round vases are the perfect gift for any home. Available in various colors, they can be placed anywhere in the home (think kitchen, bedside table, office, or bathroom), look great alone or with a small floral bouquet, and compliment any style of home decor. Handmade by Talavera Vazquez in Mexico. Starting at $48.

RoundVases

 

Shop Our Vase Collection Here >>


 

3. Colorful GoGo Pottery

Whether it’s a pair of bright green mugs or a festive serving platter, colorful Gogo Pottery is a gift that will be enjoyed for years to come. Handmade by artist Gorky Gonzalez in Mexico. Starting at $20.

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Our newest additions to this collection are these charming GoGo Square Plates (below). Perfect for holding appetizers, small entrees, and desserts, they’ll be cherished far beyond the holiday season.

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Shop Gogo Mexican Pottery Here >>


 

4. Fabulous French Coffee Bowls & Mugs

Some of our most popular pieces year-round at Emilia Ceramics are our french polka dot dishes! The bowls come in 3 sizes: cereal ($34), ice-cream ($32), and dip ($30). I love giving a trio of dip bowls, or a pair of ice-cream bowls. Our polka dot mugs are equally charming. They make an easy gift for coffee-loving friends or family. Handmade by Richard Esteban in France.

french polka dot bowlsfrench polka dot mugs

Shop the Richard Esteban Collection Here >>

Need More Ideas? Gifts >>

 

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Ahhh, Valentine’s Day

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Is Valentine’s Day officially the most controversial non-religious holiday? I think so. Some people love it. Lots hate it. And then there are the parents of young kids, who equate it with mandatory baking and craft-making responsibilities. Whatever camp you fall into, it definitely feels like a day that’s loaded with pressure. If you’re a teenager, you feel the pressure to have a Valentine… to give or get cards or roses (mostly to not be empty-handed). If you’re in a new relationship, Valentine’s Day is especially stressful: What should you do to celebrate? What kind of gift is appropriate? Should you pretend you don’t even know that February 14th has any sort of significance? (Probably smart).

If you’re in a long-term relationship or married, it becomes a bit easier (I think). You actually know your Valentine and know whether it’s important to him/her to go big or not. I think it’s nice to celebrate Valentine’s Day some years, whether that’s with a romantic dinner, roses, or a heart-felt card, but then to skip it other years. As far as I’m concerned, it’s like birthdays: some of them you want to celebrate and others you want to forget. It shouldn’t be expected that Valentine’s Day has to be perfect every year and it definitely shouldn’t cost a ton of money. But if you are feeling romantic this year and do want to celebrate the special person in your life, I suggest giving them something thoughtful, unique, and of course meaningful. While there are plenty of non-ceramic gifts that fall into this category, I think a useful and beautiful piece of ceramics makes an ideal Valentine’s Day gift. Here are some ideas that are sure to please!

A Handmade, Hand-Painted Mug

The great thing about a mug is that it gets used everyday. And while you want it to look good with other kitchen decor, it doesn’t have to match. In fact, almost everyone likes a little diversity when it comes to their mug collection. These are my current favorites and they would all make great Valentine’s Day gifts. (From left: Mexican Cherry Red & White Mug, Italian Cherry Mug, Spanish Te Mug)
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A Vase to Hold Flowers All Year Long

Who wants to get flowers only on Valentine’s Day, when it’s most expected? Not the women I know. They would rather be surprised on April 14th or August 14th, instead of just in February. (Or maybe in addition to February). What better way to make flowers a year-round tradition than to gift a new vase to show off all the flowers to come — And to look good between flower deliveries as well! Depending on the size of flower your Valentine prefers, these are great vase options: The Mexican Black Striped Vase (pictured above with long-stem roses, it also works well with sunflowers), French Polkadot Perfection Pitcher (great for tulips or daffodils), Italian Large Pomegranate Pitcher (for a mix of fresh flowers straight from the garden).

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A New Platter for Serving Double-Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate is closely linked to romance and Valentine’s Day. But really, the important thing is indulging with whatever dessert makes you feel loved and/or puts you in the mood for love. Why not dress up your Valentine’s favorite cookies, brownies, or cupcakes with one of these beautiful platters?! They also make great serving pieces for other types of food, all year long. (The depth of the Mexican Amor Oval Serving Dish makes it perfect for cupcakes; The French Vive l’Amour Plate says it all for you!; The Mexican Cherry Red Long Platter is a great backdrop for cookies or chocolate-covered strawberries; And the Italian Oval Serving Platter with Lemons is just begging to be topped with rich chocolate brownies.

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Need more Valentine’s Day inspiration? Check out the Emilia Ceramics Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas. Or read these posts from previous Valentine’s Days…
2014: Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas Beyond the Clichés
2013: Vases for Your Valentine from Around the World
2012: Why Buy Ceramics for Valentine’s Day?

 

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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. 

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Mother’s Day Celebration at the Boulder Showroom

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Last Saturday we celebrated moms at the Boulder Showroom. I was fortunate enough to have my mom fly in from California to help me prep for the party and join in the festivities. We bought lots of beautiful fresh flowers, rearranged a few of the shop displays, and even added two new tables: A round one dedicated to our Ethiopian Table Linens and French turquoise planters; And a low coffee table which I filled with stacks of Richard’s fun dinner and salad plates.

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It’s always more fun to clean and fix up the shop with company and my mom was a great help! She picked out her favorite pitcher by Sylvie Duriez for me to give her as a Mother’s Day gift — and of course added a few more pieces to her large collection of Gorky’s El Mar pieces. My mom is an expert gardener as well, so I put her to work planting my window boxes outside. (Unfortunately, we had to unplant them later because it snowed the following day! So now I’m trying to keep my flowers alive inside the showroom until it’s safe to plant them outside.)

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When it came time for the party, we used mostly white platters for serving. I love Ceramica Valenciana’s serving platters, which I piled high with muffins and strawberries. I also used one of Gorky’s white platters to arrange a variety of cookies. We served Italian Prosecco with fresh squeezed orange juice and made coffee for our guests as well.

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It was a fun morning with friends stopping by to enjoy a mimosa and admire the new arrivals from France and Italy. The weekend coincided with CU Boulder’s graduation, so we had a few guests from around the country (and one from the UK) who were in town celebrating their children. All in all it was a great day… and I was very glad to have my mom’s help cleaning up afterward!

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Why This Rooster Pitcher Is Perfect for Spring

rooster pitcherHave you noticed April filling up with social engagements, with friends and/or family? Temperatures are rising, the light lasts longer, and it feels like everyone is waking up after the chilly, dark winter months. Call it spring fever; I’ve definitely caught it.

So how do rooster pitchers fit into this time of celebration? Just like other rooster ceramics, they exude a cheer and brightness that’s perfect for spring. A rooster creamer sets the tone for your breakfast table (even if you’re not a morning person). Fill one of Gorky’s rooster creamers with cream for your coffee or tea. Don’t caffeinate first thing? Fill a small rooster pitcher with daffodils or wild flowers and adorn the table or kitchen nook where you eat the first meal of the day.

rooster pitcher

Spring also means it’s time to start reaching for crisp white wines with lunch or dinner. A ceramic pitcher minimizes messy spills, adds a personal touch to your meal, and keeps the wine perfectly cool. Always having two pitchers on the table—one filled with water, the other wine—remains one of my favorite European traditions. Definitely ideal for spring entertaining, don’t you think?

wine pitcher

‘Tis also the season of showers, both literal and celebratory. Bridal showers, wedding showers, baby showers… it seems like there are never enough weekends for all the celebrations taking place! Bored by giving the same predictable gifts? For anyone starting a life together, a rooster pitcher symbolizes good luck for their home. Your friends who throw parties will love rooster ceramic platters and serving plates (the same goes for your family members!). A global icon, rooster ceramics come in so many different styles that you can easily find the perfect pieces for all those you’re fêting this spring.

rooster ceramic

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Creating a Great Bridal Registry

angel_platter_2When it comes to putting together the perfect gift registry, the most important thing to remember is: ‘you are what you register for.’ In other words, choose stores and products that speak to who you are (both bride and groom)… and who you are as a couple. If you achieve that, your guests will enjoy buying you gifts and you will love receiving them.

So don’t just list what your mom tells you to list. And don’t just go to Crate & Barrel because everyone else you know did. Think about what you really want and need, what your fiancé wants and needs, and most importantly, what the two of you will truly use and enjoy together. And then list away! Here are a couple of ideas to get you thinking…

For Entertaining

Do you love having people over for drinks, dinner, brunch, or barbecue? Maybe you aren’t a great entertainer yet, but you aspire to be one. Either way, if hosting parties is something that excites you, be sure to include the supplies you need on your registry. The bonus of these gifts is that your friends and family will be able to see them being used and enjoyed when they come to your next dinner party!

El Mar Platter

Best Stores for Entertaining Supplies:
– Emilia Ceramics for Unique Platters and Serving Bowls
– Williams-Sonoma for Barbecue Supplies
– Crate & Barrel for Glassware

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For New Homeowners

Does getting married coincide with moving into a new house? Lucky you… what a great time to ask friends to contribute special additions to your home that will become future family heirlooms. When you’re shopping for gifts that will be incorporated into your new home decor, it’s important to pick classic objects that won’t be out of style a year from now.

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Best Stores for Home Decor:
– Macy’s for Bed and Bath
– Emilia Ceramics for Lamps and Vases
– Sur la Table for Pots and Pans

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For World Travelers

Again, you don’t have to be a world traveler to aspire to travel the world… now’s your chance to get help from friends and family who want to encourage your dreams as a married couple. So think big, whether that means new suitcases, camping equipment, or ceramics that mentally transport you to the South of France or the Mexican Riviera.

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Best Stores for Travel-Related Gifts:
– Macy’s for Luggage
– REI for Camping Equipment
– Emilia Ceramics for Worldly Mugs

 azteca_mug_strawberry

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4 Fun Bridal Shower Ideas that You’ll Actually Enjoy

When was the last time you heard someone talking about a fun bridal shower?

Go on.

We’re waiting.

Yep, that’s what I thought. Although a sweet wedding tradition that celebrates the bride before the big day, many bridal showers center around the not-so-fascinating event of watching an adult open presents.

Yawn. However, as this post by Kellee Khalil demonstrates, there are plenty of ways to make a bridal shower fun for all. Getting ready to plan a shower for a bride in your life? Want to drop a gentle hint about a celebration you might enjoy having in your honor? Here are a few ways to spice up a blah bridal shower:

1. Have a couple’s shower.

Instead of a ladies-only event (save that for the bachelorette party), have a mixed crew to celebrate the couple. This will allow people to mix before the wedding who might not know each other well, particularly if the atmosphere is laid back.

2. Go outside.


A patio party is a great way to keep things causal and have a non-cheesy theme for the shower itself. Ask people to choose gifts that are fun and useful for outside entertaining (hint: check out their wedding registry to see if there are already items that fit the bill). Grill, make s’mores on a bonfire, play lawn games, and generally relax. Looking for an outdoor gift that’s out of the box? A unique planter instantly beautifies any porch or patio and is a sure winner with anyone who likes plants.

3. Celebrate a day in the life.

Another creative theme centers on celebrating “a day in the life” of the couple. Send out invitations with different times and ask guests to pick a gift appropriate for that hour of the day. Suddenly opening presents has moved beyond dishtowels. There’ll be mugs and waffle makers (morning), salad plates and planters (afternoon), cheese plates and wine glasses (evening), and, of course, some fun lingerie and bedding for the night!

spanish mugs

4. Have a cuisine-inspired theme.

Countries and their cuisine are another great bridal shower inspiration. Throw a Mexican-inspired, hacienda-style party or a chic French shower, though maybe not quite so over the top as we saw in Bridesmaids! (Warning, the clip below contains lots of swearing)

Decorate with your favorite Mexican ceramics to serve taquitos and delicious guacamole, adding a Piñata for a entertaining party game. The super original and functional platters and bowls by Gorky Gonzalez or Capelo would be great gifts for a Mexican-themed party. One of my personal go-to shower gifts is Gorky’s Tequila Shot Set. Pair it with a bottle of Patron and you have a gift that will be enjoyed for a long time to come.

Mexican ceramic serving platter

No matter the size or theme, think of the bridal shower as a relaxed event where the focus is on fun, not completing the wedding registry or stressing out. There’s plenty of time for that in the months ahead.

Gift image courtesy emily katherine may.

Picnic image courtesy Urban Hafner.

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Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas Beyond the Clichés


Roses are red (and tired), chocolates are cliché. What Valentine’s Day gift ideas do you have for this year? If you’re stumped (or want to give some gentle hints), try one of these swaps for your sweetheart this year.

Instead of chocolates, try cheese.

Does she love brie? Maybe he adores Roquefort. For fans of cheese, a cheese plate paired with a specialized server or two will get plenty of use during your dinner parties or intimate evenings in. And unlike a box of chocolates, a good cheese plate and cheese knives will last for years instead of days.

barn_red_cheese_plate

Instead of a bottle of wine, try cups to toast your love.

Ok, if you both like wine, why not add some new ways to drink your favorite vintage this Valentine’s Day? Stemless wine glasses are always a good move (and won’t break in your dishwasher). I’m also loving these rustic chic vino cups and wine pitcher by Ceramica Valenciana.

Whatever kind of wine vessels you choose, take my advice and avoid black glass. They look great, but it’s impossible to tell what’s inside, which becomes a problem when you need to tell the red from the white.

Instead of a necklace, try a jewelry box.

Maybe she has an entire collection of jewelry from all the time you’ve spent together. A jewelry box that matches her personal style prepares for many more beautiful pieces to come. Think about specialized storage for the pieces she collects. Earrings do well hanging on a tree while rings and bracelets are right at home in a smaller box.

unique vases

 

Instead of flowers, try a unique vase.

Flowers fade, but a vase is a great way to make a lasting statement. Try giving your bouquet in a vase suited to the style of your recipient (and the flowers inside). Whether covered in ornate patterns or a single shade, made of ceramic, glass, or another material, these gift ideas have endless possibilities.

Instead of dinner out, try breakfast in.

Valentine’s Day is on a Friday this year, so instead of going out that evening, have a special breakfast the next morning. Serve your sweetheart coffee or tea out of new mugs just for the occasion. A red and white espresso cup is festive; blue and white mugs are also sure to please. Other gift ideas from kitchen accessories to table cloths can also feature in your morning repast. Add some mimosas and you’re ready to go!

 

Still stumped for gift ideas? Try one of our new gift cards. They always fit and that way your love can truly get their heart’s desire (at least ceramic-wise).

Heart image courtesy Muffet.

Breakfast image courtesy Will Merydith.

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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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Holiday Gift Ideas for Pasta Lovers and Culinary Connoisseurs

Counting down the days until Christmas and still need some gift ideas for pasta lovers on your list? What about your foodie friends? Hard to buy for friends and relations always pose a challenge this time of year, but here are some practical and delicious gifts that are sure to delight those who love to cook (and eat!) on your list.

Here some some Holiday Gift Ideas for Pasta Lovers

Pasta bowls: Ensure that the pasta lovers in your life have pasta bowls that are just as tasty as the sauce and noodle creations they consume. A good pasta bowl should be large enough for a hearty serving of everything from pesto gnocchi to spaghetti bolognaise. Gorky’s pasta bowls are colorful, large (but not overwhelming), and, with an array of bright colors, compliment pasta dishes from all over the world. Pair a set of pasta bowls with a hefty serving bowl for a family gift that’s sure to please. My favorite dish for mixing and serving a large bowl of pasta is Talavera Vazquez’s La Fiesta Bowl.

pasta bowlsPasta makings: Making fresh pasta is actually easier than you might think. Encourage pasta lovers to take their dishes to the next level with the durum and semolina flour that is the base for Italian-style pastas. Orecchiette requires no special equipment and is the base for tasty sauces like this carbonara. If shopping for more adventurous or advanced cooks, go for pasta making machines, specialized cookbooks, or hard-to-find ingredients sourced directly from Italy.

Gifts for Wine Lovers

Wine holders & serving pitchers: Help the wine lover in your life show off the perfect bottle in style with a ceramic wine holder or spacious pitcher. Wine bottle holders make for decorative centerpieces and keep bottles neat; in the hot summers a ceramic wine holder will also keep chilled white wines cool. Ceramic pitchers are another way to casually serve wine and are especially good for reds since having more exposure to the air allows their flavors to deepen. This vino pitcher, a new arrival from Spain, clearly lets people know what’s inside. Pair with a set of vino cups for a wine-inspired gift that’s much more original than another bottle of Pinot Noir.

vino wine pitcher
Wine glass markers:
No one likes mixing up glasses at a party. If your wine lovers like to entertain, the multitude of wine charms, bands, and other glass markers make for fabulous stocking stuffers. Choose markers that somehow fasten to the glass, suction-only markers are more likely to fall off at inopportune moments.

Gifts for Bakers

A specialty class: Many communities have short-term (a couple hours or a weekend) courses on topics like chocolate making, laminated dough (the basis for croissants), French macarons, or breads. Pair the gift of lessons with an appropriate ingredient or tool (quality chocolate, vanilla beans, dough scraper, or a candy thermometer) for a gift that keeps on giving.

baking class
Storage canisters:
If the baker on your list regularly can be found in the kitchen, a stylish canister will brighten the counter and keep essential ingredients at hand. Large or small canisters are perfect for favorite pastas, baking materials like sugar and flour, or even coffee and tea.

canisters from Spain
Need more gift ideas for pasta lovers or others on your list? Check out our holiday gift ideas as well as specialized gift categories for inspiration.

Baking image courtesy star5112.

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Blue and White Gift Ideas

blue and white living room
This gorgeous New York apartment recently featured in House Crush got me thinking about the decorating power of blue and white. Rebecca de Ravenel’s home demonstrates how wonderfully you can add texture and depth to any space with this dynamic duo, mixing patterns and styles to create a unique living space that’s chic and stunning.

Searching for some gift inspiration this holiday season? Here are some winning ideas for anyone who loves blue and white décor (hint: although the colors of the recently ended Hanukkah, this combination fits any celebration. Trust me.):

blue and white plateBlue and white kitchen accessoriesblue and white lamp are perfect for the stylish cook on your list. Think utensil holders, spoon rests, or mixing bowls. Pair these blue and white dishes with wooden spoons or other useful gadget.

For the modern statement maker, a blue and white lamp is sure to update an office or living room. Or try a ginger jar with a graphic blue and white design. But blue and white also has a softer side. Think blue and white throws, pillows, and other home accessories made of fabric.

Who can resist their favorite beverage? Give a blue and white mug to the coffee or tea aficionado, or a blue and white wine bottle holder to the oenophile in your life. A blue and white pitcher is also versatile, serving beverages or acting as a rustic vase for wildflowers.

 

 

blue and white cup and saucer
Blue and white dishes are another crowd pleaser. A few blue and white bowls for your favorite ice-cream loving college student, a stunning blue and white platter for your aunt who likes to entertain, or blue and white plates for a favorite couple are just the beginning. The timeless quality of blue and white dishes make them ideal for traditional or contemporary tastes no matter the recipient’s age.

blue and white platter

When it doubt, say it with flowers. A blue and white vase full of delicate winter blooms makes for a beautiful host present or the perfect way to gift that hard-to-shop-for person on your list. They’ll have beautiful flowers for the holidays and a vase to use for the rest of the year. Our two favorites: The sophisticated Italian Blue Leaf Vase and the more playful, Mexican Large Paloma Vase. Both look great with or without flowers and make a striking, memorable holiday gift.

Have any other blue and white gift ideas? Share your favorites with us and check out our blue and white Pinterest board for even more inspiration.

Blue and white living room image courtesy Vogue.

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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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The Ultimate Registry Guide: 5 Things to Not Forget

So you’ve registered with your favorite stores for your upcoming wedding. You’ve figured out the big items that you’d love to receive and are ready to rock… right? Not quite yet. While kitchen appliances and bakeware are the most popular registry items, there are plenty of overlooked items that make great wedding gifts and may have been left off your registry.

Here are my top 5 forgotten things you might just want to include on your wedding registry.

  1. Quality sheets. We all know how important sleep is, so why not use your registry to improve the quality of sleep you get. Find a set in 100 percent Egyptian cotton or 100 percent pima french coffee bowlcotton (known as Suprima) with a 300 thread count minimum. A set (or two) of luxury sheets will have you luxuriating in hotel-worthy comfort. Extra pillow covers are always useful too, so don’t forget to add a few more of those to the list.
  2. Coffee or tea supplies. How do you caffeinate in the morning? French coffee bowls are a fun choice for a gift that’s small and versatile. Like French coffee mugs but bigger, coffee bowls work wonderfully for small servings of soup and cereal. Everyone can use another couple of mugs, particularly for when guests come by. A coffee maker, whether a quality French press or fancy espresso machine, and/or a capacious tea pot are other must-haves.green and white tea pot
  3. More plates and glasses. Even if you only think you need a place setting for eight people, remember that things do break. So ask for others to help you buy ceramics you’ll need in the future, replacing that favorite dish or bowl. No matter if you have a design that’s fine china or handmade ceramic, few designs are produced forever, so stocking up now will pay off in the future. The same is true for glassware, both regular and wine glasses.
  4. Organizers. A spice rack, storage containers, or shelf dividers are definitely items that will see daily use. Use this as an opportunity to streamline the design of your home organization. A quality trash can, set of recycling bins, or garage storage are other useful items that many homes could use.
  5. Home bar accessories. A good corkscrew, wine bottle stoppers, and wine rack are a must for anyone who loves to have a few bottles of wine always on hand. Quality bar tools like a cocktail shaker, muddler, bar spoon, or a good ice bucket make mixed drinks even better. The square ice cube trays are also ideal for anyone who’s looking to take their drinks up a notch; the ice takes longer to melt when it’s in a big square block. And no matter your drink of choice, coasters are another item you never have too many of.

cocktail shakerHave other items you think should be on wedding registries? Do you like to buy ceramics or other daily use items as wedding gifts? Have any items you left off your registry and wish you hadn’t, like French coffee bowls or specialized serving ware? Leave a comment below.

Polka dot bed image courtesy of browndresswithwhitedots via Pinterest.

Cocktail shaker image courtesy of lennox_mcdough.

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From Blue and White Planters to Rustic Pitchers: Our Favorite Registry Picks

I love working with couples on their registries, seeing how excited they get about picking out beautiful ceramics together and then hearing about how they use their pieces after the wedding. Couples like Bethany and Martin use their ceramics daily, whether it’s a vase holding fresh flowers on the kitchen table, a pottery wall planter gracing the back deck, or one of Richard Esteban’s playful polka dot bowls filled with yogurt for breakfast.

blue and white serving bowl
jennie's_gogoAlong the same line, I recently visited my cousin’s house and loved seeing the collection of colorful Gorky mugs and bowls (photo on the right) she received from her Emilia Ceramics Gift Registry. She and her husband use these everyday, thinking of the friends who gave them and the event they celebrated — that’s what I consider the perfect wedding gift!

In recent blog posts, I’ve talked about ideas for where to register as well as unique gifts that people can give a special couple. Today I’m looking at registries from a slightly different angle, diving into the lists of some of the wonderful couples currently registered at Emilia Ceramics.

Sheena and Blake love blue and white as well as statement pieces with Tuscan charm. Their choices of serving platters and a wine bottle holder point to people who love to entertain. Blair and Christopher have a broad ceramic selection that ranges from big to small: an extra large casserole by Richard Esteban, long rooster platter by Gorky Gonzalez, intricate spoon rest, and even a colorful mini plate.

wine bottle holder
extra large casserole dishJen and Kristina love rustic white pieces from France and striped planters. The white pitcher below (sorry — it was one-of-a-kind and has already been purchased for them : ) and serving dishes contrast beautifully with the orange and yellow of their other favorite ceramics.

chalk white pitcher

Most registries contain serving pieces for entertaining – platters, pitchers, bowls – as well as practical statement pieces like vases and utensil holders. For those with a green thumb, a blue and white planter usually is on the list, and if the happy couple has any kind of yard, pottery wall planters as well. And pieces like the Amor platter are perfect for celebrating love. The range of big to small pieces also is perfect for helping guests pick the right gift for their price range.

blue and white planter

What ceramics do you think should be on every registry? Leave a comment and let us know!

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The Guide to Going “Off Registry”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s unfortunate, but not every engaged couple knows about the Emilia Ceramics Gift Registry. They don’t realize they could register for functional, beautiful ceramics that their guests will love to buy for them and they will love to use… for years and years and years to come. Now I understand that not everyone feels quite so passionately about the fact that Emilia Ceramics make the best wedding gifts, but I’m also not the only one who thinks they do. I know more than a few other die-hard Emilia Ceramics fans (you know who you are) who always buy Emilia Ceramics wedding gifts even when the engaged couple has not registered with us.

For those who believe that handmade, hand-painted ceramics make the perfect wedding gift, I recommend looking at a couples’ registry (or at their kitchen/home if that’s possible). You’re looking for the holes in their registries (maybe they overlooked serving platters or vases) and also wanting to get a sense of their style preferences. With a little background research, it’s easy to find a one-of-a-kind Emilia Ceramics piece that will fit their aesthetic and quickly become a cherished part of their new life together. Here are a few examples of thoughtful, meaningful wedding gifts that may be “off-registry” but are definitely on-track.

1. Lovers of White. They’ve registered for plain white plates, bowls, and mugs. But you know these people and they aren’t boring, so you want to give them a gift that’s simple and sophisticated, with a touch of color that will really show up in that sea of white. How about the Limoni 2 Liter Pitcher or Oval Platter? One of my new favorites is the Large Serving Bowl – Flores y Frutas. Another great, grown-up gift is Tuscia’s Blue Leaf Vase. These pieces all compliment a white palette really well, without overwhelming it.

large_limoni_pitcher

oval_limoni_closeuplarge_salad_bowl_1large_salad_bowl
blue_leaf_vase

2. Moving into a New Home. It used to be that marriage was synonymous with making a new home together. Of course that’s not always the case anymore, but when it is, take advantage and give a statement piece that the couple can put in just the right place and build a whole room around. Of course, if you go this route you really should know their style and not just be choosing your favorite statement piece. Some great examples of striking gifts with tons of personality are the Extra Large Blue Floral Tibor, the Pablo Picasso Vase, the Palermo Lamp, and the Frutta Venezia Canister.

new_blue_white_tiborblue vase

palermo_lamp_3new_frutta_canister
3. Entertainers. You know this couple loves to entertain and while they registered for cooking, baking, and barbecuing supplies, they seemed to miss the serving platters and bowls that make a party work. Hone in on their color pallet… Blue and white? Choose one of these great Mexican bowls and platters: La Azteca Oval Serving Dish, El Mar Serving Plate, or the Large Round Platter – Flores Azules.

oval blue and white serving plateel_mar

blue and white platterAre they more into the earthy, jewel tones? Richard Esteban has them covered with the Large Petal Platter in Butter Yellow, Fish Platter in Burnt Honey, or the Large Cheese Plate in Barn Red.

butter_yellow_petal_platterfish_platter_yellow_5

barn_red_cheese_plate
4. Who knows?! Whether it’s an old friend you haven’t seen in years or a coworker you just met, sometimes you have to buy a wedding gift for a couple you really don’t know very well. These gift ideas are sure bets for just about anyone. It’s still a good idea to look at what else they’ve registered for so you can match colors, styles, and get a sense of their needs. But in general, you can’t go wrong with these 5 gift ideas:

  1. Amor Platter: The name says it all. This platter evokes love and it’s shape makes it great for serving appetizers or dessert.
  2. Burnt Orange Striped Vase – Especial: Everyone loves this vase. Everyone.
  3. Tuscan Fruit Oval Platter: An Italian classic that can be hung on the wall or used to serve appetizers and main dishes.
  4. Large Love Birds Bowl: Yup, Love Birds… need I say more?!
  5. Small Cherry Pitcher: The voluptuous shape of this pitcher and beautifully painted pattern make it unique, yet universally loved. Great for serving drinks, displaying fresh cut flowers, or just plain looking good.

long_platter_couplespecial_vase_orange_stripe

tuscan_fruit_oval_platterlove_birds_bowl_1little_cherry_pitcherWhat’s your favorite, go-to wedding gift from Emilia Ceramics? Leave us a comment below to let us know.

Also, if you’re ever having trouble finding the right gift, don’t hesitate to call or email us with questions. We’re here to help and love the challenge of finding just the right gift!

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5 Top Tips for Where to Register: The Ultimate Registry Guide

wedding giftsThere are so many wedding registry options these days that it can be overwhelming to know where to even begin! Sometimes it’s clear where a couple should register – Enjoy the outdoors? Register at REI. Love handmade ceramics? Register at Emilia Ceramics. Can’t get enough of traveling? Try one of the many honeymoon registries that allows your guests to help you take the trip of your dreams.

I’ve dealt with lots of wedding registries over the years and often the same questions come up again and again. Trying to figure out where to register? Here’s some time-tested advice to get you started.

1. Think about what you like and what you need. These days, many people have already lived on their own as adults when they get married, so they already own essentials like sheets, towels, and kitchen equipment. Talk with your partner about what you both like and what you’d like to upgrade. Perhaps this is the time to get matching pots and pans or luggage, ask for those ginger jars from Talavera Vazquez you’ve been coveting, or even some camping equipment for your favorite weekend activity. It can also be helpful to make a short list of what you don’t want to help you narrow down the possibilities of where you want to register.Gorky Gonzalez Plates

2. Diversify your registries. Have a mix of big box stores and smaller, local spots. Many retailers have online registries, making it easy to manage your list and keep track of what’s been purchased. By having a range of options, your guests can shop where they feel most comfortable, whether that’s online or in-person.

3. Have at least one wedding registry. People want to help you celebrate, so help guide them to what’s most fitting for you. With no registry at all, it’s likely you’ll end up with four toasters (none of which you like) and no receipts, making exchanging a nightmare. Trust me on this one… people will buy you gifts. The only question is, will you like them?

4. Stop at five wedding registries. Too many registries quickly gets overwhelming for both you and your guests. Some people like sites like myregistry.com that allow you to build a registry from any store you choose, keeping everything in one spot. Armed with the list of what you’d like to receive and where you like to shop, keep things simple by figuring out where the best fit will be, then register there.

5. Register for a wide range of items and prices. This allows your friends and family to have a chance to give in whatever amount they like. Many people like to build a gift out of several less expensive items, like a Talavera Vazquez butter dish and trivet, while others will splurge for one statement piece like a full set of luggage. Bonus for after the wedding: many places offer a completion discount if you buy items yourself.

Talavera Vazquez butter dishes
Remember: Be yourselves!
Don’t register for china just because it’s traditional or copper-bottom pots if you don’t like to cook. The best registry offers a reflection of the couple’s personality instead of a standard list of bed linens, knives, silver, and decorative ware. Avoid registering at a store you dislike because you’ll have to deal with them for a long period of time.

Where do you recommend registering for a wedding? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Wedding gift image courtesy of messycupcakes.

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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.

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

May is coming up fast and with it Mother’s Day, a time to celebrate the importance of moms everywhere. Stuck on gift ideas for that special lady and need some inspiration? Here are some handmade handpainted Majolica gift ideas that are just as special as she is.

If Mom likes…

Entertaining: Think about serving plates and platters. Unusually shaped pieces like the rounded rectangle Mexican serving platters will definitely stand out at her next event.

Cheerful polka dots or stripes make for whimsical French serving platters, while fruit and floral motifs characterize Mexican serving platters. Choose motifs or colors that already go with what’s in her kitchen to ensure she loves her gift.

Gardening: Help her plants shine with eye-catching planters and ceramic pots. Handmade handpainted Majolica works both indoors and out, decorating patios, porches, doorsteps, gardens, and windowsills with ease. Use a round planter as a cachepot for a blooming orchid or one of her favorite flowers or gift a larger planter with seeds and soil to start spring off right.

Drinking coffee: Then the right mug is a must. Consider the size of this large mug, big enough for an entire morning’s worth of coffee or tea. Or if she loves espresso, a colorful set of espresso cups might be just the thing she needs to start her day off right. Creamers, sugar bowls, and other coffee and tea accessories are also great gift ideas, especially if they make their first appearance on a tray for her indulgent Mother’s Day breakfast in bed.

Unique artwork: Consider one of a kind handmade, handpainted Majolica. Whether it’s a wall plate or serving platter, vase or pitcher, unique ceramics are sure to please. Majolica ceramics are elegant and sturdy, which is great for mothers of young children. She’ll love knowing that she has the only one in the world. I’d say she deserves nothing less.

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Salt & Pepper Shakers: Quite Possibly the Perfect Gift

We’ve all been there: you need a gift for a housewarming or birthday party but are fresh out of ideas. It should be fun but practical, unique yet not too outlandish, and above all not boring. This is where salt & pepper sets come in. With so many possibilities, they may just be the ideal small gift for almost any occasion.

Every holiday season I always get dangerously low on my rooster salt and pepper shakers; people love them as stocking stuffers, host gifts, or as something unique for a friend, coworker, or family member. It’s a sure sign of Gorky’s playful animal salt and pepper shakers’ wide appeal. Of course, these amusing gifts are useful year-round as either a compliment to other kitchen accessories or all on their own.

One of the best parts about ceramic salt and pepper shakers or a cream and sugar set (for those tea and coffee drinkers in your life) is that they don’t need to match the rest of the kitchen. It’s also hard to have too many sets. Many people rotate through their collection of salt & pepper sets throughout the year or keep a set in kitchen, another on the table. And with the appeal of chickens, bunnies, and roosters, these salt and pepper shakers are sure to be used. The same goes for creamer sugar sets; appealing colors and shapes make for a sugar bowl that stays out on the counter or table instead of hidden in a cabinet. Seriously, who can resist the charm of a rooster creamer?

rooster creamers

I’ve given lots of ceramic salt and pepper sets as gifts over the years and always gotten a great reaction, particularly for housewarmings and as host gifts. Useful, practical, and anything but boring, unique salt and pepper shakers are an excellent choice when it comes to smart gifting.

What are your go-to gifts? Do you have unique salt & pepper sets that you love? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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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”.

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An Old Favorite for the New Year: Our Tuscan Utensil Holder

I’ve really enjoyed my time in the pop-up shop this holiday season. As with every year, it’s wonderful to get to talk with people about their favorite ceramics, whether they are gifts for others or themselves. But there’s one piece that everyone seems to love unconditionally – the Tuscan utensil holder.

What is it about the Tuscan utensil holder that makes it so beloved? It’s quite functional for one, holding all the necessary kitchen utensils on a countertop with ease given its size. The solid ceramic also means it won’t fall over. And the cheerful fruit designs with apples, lemons, and leaves adds happiness to any kitchen.

Of course, Italian ceramics are a perennial favorite for gifts. The Tuscan utensil holder is wonderful for housewarmings or weddings, anniversaries or birthdays, making it a versatile piece no matter the occasion. Tuscia d’Arte makes other designs of this functional ceramic piece, including the playful blue rooster and simple blue and white pear motif. I think all these Tuscan utensil holders look great as a vase holding branches or a large floral arrangement, making them good gifts for those who don’t care to cook as well.

The difference between a Tuscan vase and utensil holder has to do with shape more than anything else. Good utensil holders have a cylindrical shape that prevents them from tipping over no matter how many utensils are inside. A Tuscan vase, on the other hand, often has a smaller base and curving sides. These vases are perfect for flowers or a stand alone decoration, but could spell disaster on a kitchen counter.

What do you put in your Tuscan utensil holder? Any ideas as to why so many people love this piece besides its beautiful functionality? Have you given one as a gift recently? Leave a comment and let us know!

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An Italian Country Style Gift Guide

Snow in TuscanyThe rustic, touchable quality of Italian country décor makes it very much a natural fit for the kitchen. Wrought iron, ceramic serving dishes, stonework, and plenty of wood are all elements of this popular look. The warmth and friendliness associated with this Tuscan style is closely tied to the Italian tradition of hospitality, which is why so many people turn to Italian country décor in spaces where they spend time with guests, from kitchens to dining rooms.

Italians are experts at relaxed entertaining, piling large serving trays with delicious food and always ready to drink another glass of wine. Know someone who loves Italian country décor or just likes to entertain? Here’s my final gift guide of the holiday season to help you find the perfect Italian country accent for their home.

Here are some Italian Country Gift Ideas:

Large serving tray

richard esteban serving platter

Perfect for anyone who loves to have company, a large serving tray is ideal for any stage of a meal from starters to desserts. The striking size of these rectangular serving platters make them a favorite choice for a special gift. Another cheerful piece is the large square blu limoni platter – this is a large serving tray that combines modern bright colors with Italian country charm.

Italian pottery spoon rest

italian spoon rest

Italian country décor is in the details. A beautiful handpainted Italian pottery spoon rest adds functional color and pizzazz to any countertop.

Whether fruits or an abstract design, this unexpected gift idea is sure to get used for years to come.

Ceramic serving dishes

oval platter

Help make entertaining or a relaxed family dinner easy. Ceramic serving dishes like bowls and platters inject charm into any meal large or small. Plus they double as instant wall decoration when not in use.

Italian country mugs

italian country mug

Know someone who loves a cuppa in the morning? No matter the hot beverage of choice, Italian country mugs make it just taste better. Pair a single or set of mugs with mulling spices, special coffee beans, or select tea for a delicious and memorable gift this holiday. If giving more than one mug, mix and match designs for a fun injection of personality from roosters to lemons.

Tuscan utensil holder

italian country wine bottle or utensil holder

 

Another useful piece of Italian country décor, utensil holders are a fantastic way to add life to a countertop. A personal favorite is the blue rooster Tuscan utensil holder. No matter the design, pair a utensil holder with a set of wooden spoons or other useful kitchen tools for a practical gift idea that’s sure to please.

Tuscany image courtesy of Podere Casanova.

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4 Quick Gift Ideas Using Soap Dishes

Soap gift ideas
As we get closer and closer to December 25, the shopping stress starts to skyrocket for those of us who haven’t finished all our holiday gifts. The list seems to grow longer and inspiring gift ideas fewer. That’s why I wanted to share the beauty of Italian soap dishes when it comes to last-minute holiday gifts (or really any time year-round). These practical pieces have a startlingly wide range of uses; which are the best soap dish gift ideas for your list this year?

italian soap dish

  1. Pair an Italian soap dish with a bar of soap. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Whether you love fine milled soaps, natural bars from your local farmer’s market, or want to make bars yourself, gift soap should be distinctive. You can match the shape of the soap to that of your Italian soap dish (round soap with a round dish, square soap with a square soap dish) or mix things up with contrasting shapes. Just make sure your soap fits inside the dish so it won’t make a mess when in use.
  2. Give a delicious soap dish. Pair soap dishes with unusual cooking accouterments. One gift idea is some pink Himalayan salt, though other spices like these pictured are also great options.  spices I think the best soap dish for this gift is the square Italian soap dish; the rich blue and indented sides hold any seasoning on the counter in style. This gift idea is ideal for the adventurous cook on your list, especially with all the fansastic seasonings available.
  3. Make a soap dish home for accessories. Small trays or soap dishes make a useful addition to a beside table or dresser top to hold watches, rings, or other jewelry. Add a favorite accessory from brooch to bracelet and present it in a handmade soap dish for anyone who loves a little glitz.
  4. Fill soap dishes like gift baskets. Two piece soap dishes quickly become a repository for other small gifts. The Sayulita soap dish is best for this gift idea. Fill it with candy, bottles of scented lotion, bath pampering essentials, or other little treasures.

Have other gift ideas that use soap dishes creatively? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Soap image courtesy of Chris_Parfitt.

Spice image courtesy of geishaboy500.

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Ceramic Pitchers, A Stylish and Functional Gift

Still looking for the perfect unique gift this holiday season? What about a French ceramic pitcher? With my recent pitcher additions by Poterie Ravel, as well as pitchers by ceramic artists Richard Esteban and Sylvie Duriez, you’re sure to find a pitcher that combines graceful lines with full functionality. Our pitchers look equally fantastic as a vase or holding your favorite beverage at the table, from juice in the morning to wine at dinner. These ceramic pitchers also add French decorative charm to any kitchen, which is hard to resist.

White pitchers, like those by Poterie Ravel, are stunning in their simplicity. Soft glazes allow for the graceful lines to shine fully unobstructed. The one of a kind ivory French water jug makes a great centerpiece, and this fancy pitcher fits right in at anyone’s chateaux (or home).

Another fantastic white pitcher is the Provence pitcher. The spout makes me think of an old-fashioned watering can, and it’s a pitcher that holds a bouquet of fresh blooms with casual style. Besides the white pitcher, the Provence pitcher is also available in aquamarine, truly celebrating the spirit of the region.

For the more tactile-inclined, rustic pitchers with exposed clay are the perfect fit. The pelican pitcher by ceramic artist Richard Esteban combines lush glazes, a swooping spout, and exposed red clay at the bottom for a one of a kind piece. Looking for a ceramic pitcher to brighten someone’s day? The sunny yellow of this milk pitcher is charming with its soft and inviting glaze. I think this pitcher looks wonderful as a vase filled with tulips on a spring morning.

Sylvie’s unique pitchers stand out as works of art all on their own. The tall, modern feel of this ceramic pitcher with flowers combines subtle color with bold lines. The result is something that’s striking and serene.

Want to give a ceramic pitcher on Christmas day? Our shipping deadline is today (December 18th) for regular shipping, but please contact us by phone at 650-257-0292 or email if you want a quote for expedited shipping later this week. Happy gift giving!

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Our Gift Guide for the Person With Everything

Christmas wreath and handmade ceramicsDo you have someone on your holiday gift list this year that’s nearly impossible to buy for? The person who has everything might be your boss, mother-in-law, or a close friend, but no matter who it is, the frustration can be intense when trying to think of some suitable gift ideas. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Blue Striped Vase by Talavera VazquezI’ve talked with people in the Palo Alto pop-up shop these last few weeks about the folks that difficult to shop for and come up with some ideas about holiday gifts that are sure to please. From stripe painted vases to Tuscan utensil holders, here’s my gift guide for the 2012 holiday season.

Stripe Painted Vase. Large or small, the graphic charm of a stripe painted vase is hard to resist and is a great decoration for either the home or office. The blue and white stripes of this stripe painted vase by Talavera Vazquez go with any décor. Fill your gift vases with some festive branches or a winter bouquet and skip the need to wrap.

Unique Serving Platter. Ideal for the party planner in your life, a beautiful serving platter not only enlivens a party or dinner, but also can double as wall decoration when not in use. The simplicity and freshness of Tuscan lemons are always a winner, or choose Talavera Vazquez’s blue and white Mexican tray. Pair with a cheese knife or other serving utensil for a complete gift set.

Tuscan Utensil Holder. Guaranteed to please any stylish cook, a Tuscan utensil holder is a practical and cheerful way to hold kitchen counter essentials. Whether a blue rooster or luscious fruits, Tuscan utensil holders remain a classic go-to gift. Here too you can add useful kitchen tools, like wooden spoons or silicone spatulas, and bring a smile to anyone who loves working in the kitchen.

blue rooster utensil holder

Playful Pitcher. Pitchers are incredibly versatile, which makes them a great gift idea. A pitcher can decorate a shelf, brighten a kitchen, hold flowers, or serve a favorite beverage. The playful polka dots of this handmade pitcher by Richard Esteban are festive while the classic rooster pitcher by Ceramiche Bartoloni exudes Italian charm.

Drink Accessories. If your boss is a beast before that first cup of coffee, a mug and beans from their favorite roaster is a great gift. I think cup and saucer sets are a bit dressier than your average mug, whether they’re espresso cups or the giant cup and saucer by Gorky Gonzalez ready to fuel an entire morning. For wine lovers, a wine bottle holder and delicious bottle of red, white, or rosé gives them something they’ll enjoy now and for years to come.

What are you go-to gift ideas for holiday gifts? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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Tired of Your Messy Mug Cabinet? How to Choose the Perfect Cup

It’s early in the morning and you’re not quite awake yet. You open the cabinet door to get a mug for your morning cup of coffee or tea only to be confronted with an array of choices, none of which you really want. It can feel like a Goldilocks moment: this one’s too big, that mug’s too small. Then you spot the mug that is just right. It’s the right size, shape, color, and thickness. Sound familiar?

I’m always surprised at the mugs, cups, and glasses people will hold onto even though they never get used. A friend of mine recently mentioned she’d gone on a cleaning/simplifying mission in her kitchen. She took about half of the mugs and cups in the cabinet (the ones that usually stayed in the back) out, boxed them, and put them on a high shelf in a storage closet. The result? She’s now able to display all her favorite Italian coffee mugs on a shelf, adding color to her kitchen and complimenting her other Italian ceramics on display. There’s also less clutter in her cabinet. She’s thinking about holding onto the extra mugs and cups for a while in case she needs them for entertaining, but told me she also might just donate these extras and get more of the Italian hand painted mugs that she likes (and uses) instead.

Given that mugs are a popular choice for gift giving and we are well into the holiday shopping season, I’ve been thinking about what makes the perfect mug. Here are four factors to consider when choosing the right coffee cup for coffee or mug for tea:

  1. Thickness: A thicker coffee cup will keep things (like your coffee) hot longer and be generally sturdier. Thin mugs and cups are more likely to crack (think about your Grandmother’s china cups).
  2. Size: Know something about your gift recipient’s coffee or tea drinking habits. Do they favor espresso or an extra large serving of coffee with plenty of cream? “Standard” mug size might be the perfect fit, or maybe a bigger mug is in order. Having a variety of sizes can also be useful when it comes to entertaining or accommodating different family members’ beverage preferences.
  3. Handle: This allows you to carry mugs and cups and not get burned. Look for solid handles that are big enough to slip a few fingers in, letting the drinker savor the warm beverage inside. Small, thin handles are likely to break off or slip out of hands.
  4. Design: Mugs are a place where it’s easy to mix and match stylishly. I love the array of designs in my personal collection of Italian coffee mugs – most of them have the same size and shape, so my only decision is which Italian hand painted mug I feel like using that morning. These Italian ceramics make great kitchen decorations with their mix of organic motifs. Others prefer solid colored mugs or cups, and then there are always the fun designs like these polka dot mugs.

Need some mug gift ideas for yourself and others? Check out these mugs and cups to get you started.

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Guest Blogger Bethany: Six Months Later with New Pottery

Martin and I got married this past May and it’s been quite the whirlwind before, during, and since. Our wedding was lovely, filled with laughter, family, and close friends. Getting to Iceland for the honeymoon was fraught with travel delays and missed flights but absolutely worth it in the end. And then we were back home, with a list of thank you notes to write and “normal” life to resume.

Of course, many of my favorite gifts came from our wedding registry at Emilia Ceramics. As I said in my earlier post, figuring out the mysteries of wedding registries was one of the more stressful aspects of getting married. Using the resulting French coffee bowls and other pieces of new pottery, however, is a breeze.

We threw a reception for our San Francisco friends in July and I was incredibly glad to have the platters and bowls for all the food. I think we incorporated almost every new piece of pottery we’d received for the meat, cheese, and desserts to accompany the champagne. The results looked just as good as they tasted and it was a great way to break in our new ceramics.

The best part though is having things we can use everyday. I see the polka dot bowls whenever I open the cabinet and they never fail to make me smile. These hold my yogurt in the morning, soup at lunch, and the occasional (ok, frequent) ice cream sundae as a reward for diligent studying. Even though I’m more of a tea drinker, I still like to use the French coffee bowls when I sit down to write. As a graduate student in English literature and part time writer and editor, having the perfect vessel for my beverage of choice makes all the difference. My favorite bowl has a few drips of glaze inside and they all have subtle variations in the glaze; I love it that each French coffee bowl is truly unique.

Even when we’re not entertaining, we also use the blue and white salad bowl made by Talavera Vazquez to hold fruit on the table. Other serving platters have made appearances at dinner parties and I’m looking forward to the holidays to have even more occasions to use them.

I dropped by the Emilia Ceramics pop-up shop in Palo Alto the other day (when Emily asked if I’d be willing to write a follow-up post) and I fell in love all over again with the polka dot mugs, espresso cups, and other pieces of new pottery on offer there. Even if we’re done with the wedding registry, I already have some ideas what will be on my Christmas list this year!

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Ceramic Canisters: Practical Kitchen Decoration

Ceramic canisters have been used to organize everything from pasta and flour to medicines and special remedies for centuries. While I’m certainly glad we no longer need to rely on Renaissance-era medicine, I do like the idea of making storage beautiful as well as functional. Here are my top 5 ways to use ceramic canisters in your kitchen:

  1. Inject Style into Dry Good Storage. Flour, sugar, pasta, and other heavy-use items can be a pain to pull out of a cabinet or pantry every time you need them. Save yourself time by keeping these staple dry goods on the counter in ceramic canisters. The ever-popular spaghetti ceramic canister by Tuscia d’Arte is a great example (and doesn’t have to be limited to noodle storage). A variety of sizes keeps the counter interesting and can save you space.
  2. Add Floral Accents. A tall vase filled with dried or fresh flowers is a surefire way to cheer the cook throughout the day. In the fall, I love dried grasses or decorative branches in keeping with the season. Place your vase on top of the fridge or use it as a centerpiece on the kitchen table. This way the flowers don’t get in the way of cooking. I like how striking a blue vase can be even when empty, but take into consideration your kitchen’s color scheme when choosing the perfect option. Another idea for a hefty bouquet is to use a utensil holder as a vase.
  3. Keep the Wine Handy. A wine bottle holder is another kind of ceramic canister that has more than one use in the kitchen. Perfect for holding tonight’s bottle, it’s also ideal as a utensil holder for your favorite tools. The zig zag pattern on this ceramic wine bottle holder hits a modern note for a fresh looking kitchen.
  4. Don’t Forget Other Drink Options. Small ceramic canisters or even ginger jars are great ways to keep your coffee or tea on the counter with no one the wiser. I love the rooster on this ceramic canister; he’s definitely ready to help you face the day, no matter if you’re a morning person or not. The floral motifs on these ceramic canisters by Capelo also look great with a grouping of three (one each for coffee, tea, and sugar).
  5. Repurpose History. Ginger jars were a way to ship and store spices, herbs, and other trade goods (including ginger) in China for centuries, but today they’re valued mostly for their decorative properties. Still, a large blue and white ginger jar can add flair to your kitchen or dining room. Use it to store anything from dog treats to your shopping bags (depending on where it is in the room) or as a tall vase.

With all their varied uses, it’s no wonder that ceramic canisters make a functional and stylish gift no matter the occasion. How do you use ceramic canisters in your kitchen? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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Emilia Ceramics Pop-Up Shop 2012 Grand Opening This Weekend

I’m excited to announce the opening of our Palo Alto pop-up shop this Saturday, November 10th. This will be our fourth year with a physical shop for the holidays… and I’d venture to say, it is our best shop yet! The last week has been a flurry of painting, unpacking, and putting the final touches on our new space at Town & Country Village. We’ve already had a number of curious passers-by come in, look around, and tell us they’re anxious for our actual opening day. Personally, I’m looking forward to having everything set up well before Thanksgiving and getting to talk with customers about handmade and handpainted ceramics as they discover the perfect gift for loved ones and themselves.

This year the shop is once again at Town & Country Village in Palo Alto, but we’re now in the beautiful Suite 10, located between Cold Stone Creamery and the UPS Store, across from LuLu’s Mexican Restaurant and Kara’s Cupcakes. I am already enjoying the many delicious offerings of my neighbors! Here’s a map so you can find us.

Starting this weekend, the shop will be open Monday-Saturday, from 10 am to 7 pm and Sunday, from 11 am to 6 pm. Follow us on Facebook or subscribe to the newsletter to find out about upcoming events (we’ll be having a few wine tastings and at least one holiday bash), flash sales, and other fun (like new pieces debuting from Mexico) in the coming weeks. Hope to see you soon!

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7 Top Tips: Buying Ceramics Online for the Holidays

It’s almost Halloween and once that’s over, the holiday shopping season seems to officially begin. I’ll be opening the Emilia Ceramics pop-up shop soon (stay tuned to the blog and Facebook for more details) and am always amazed at how early people start to buy ceramics for their holiday gifting. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or another special celebration for family and friends, this is definitely the season of giving.

IMG_4678

Looking to buy ceramics & pottery as gifts this year? Here are my top tips to ensure the best experience possible.

  1. Avoid the possibility of duplicates. No one likes to give or get a repeat gift. One easy solution is to buy ceramics online that are handmade or one of a kind. Because no two pieces are exactly the same (unlike mass-produced ceramics), you guarantee originality.
  2. Check out sizes. Photos are great, but double check the dimensions when you buy ceramics online. That vase might be 6 inches or 18 inches tall, making for a very different type of gift! When in doubt, pull out a ruler and double check that the ceramics & pottery you’re buying are actually the size you think they are.
  3. Remember that good things come in small packages. Unsure about what to get someone? Stick to practical pieces that can be used often. Coffee mugs, salt and pepper shakers, spoon rests, and multipurpose wine bottle holders are all popular ceramics to buy as gifts for this reason. I have many customers that buy these ceramics for neighbors, coworkers, and relatives on their lists. With the wide range of colors and designs, you’re sure to find appealing ceramics for any personality.
  4. Investigate shipping before you buy. When you buy ceramics online, make sure to look at the shipping policy as you shop around. What’s the policy on breakage? Is there a cut off time date for guaranteed holiday delivery? If you buy ceramics early enough you should be able to save on shipping costs and avoid express fees.
  5. Know the gift policy. Many places will gift wrap and send your gifts directly when you buy ceramics online, which can be a big time saver come the shopping crunch of November. Find out too about how returns are handled (refund, store credit, or exchange?) before placing your order to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  6. Find out how durable the piece is. Fine china teacups looks gorgeous, but seem like they will chip if you breathe too hard on them. Thicker, more sturdy ceramics & pottery are better for everyday use, especially if children or pets are anywhere in the picture. When you buy ceramics, think about who will use them and let that help your decision-making process.
  7. Think about collections. If you are figuring out the ceramics to buy for a collector, find out the focus of their collection. Do they collect by type (plates, pitchers), motif (roosters, polka dots), or color (blue and white, yellow)? Knowing where to start will ensure you select the best ceramics & pottery possible.

I hope these tips for buying ceramics online have been helpful! Please share your favorites on our Facebook page.

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New Arrival: Owl and Rooster Cream and Sugar Sets

Sometimes I get new pieces and I’m tempted just to hold onto them myself. The new rooster pitchers and cream and sugar sets from Gorky Gonzalez are definitely in that category. Given the popularity of Gorky’s salt & pepper sets, I was thrilled on my last buying trip to Mexico to see more animal additions for the table in the form of some useful feathered friends. These owls and roosters are definitely a fun addition to any home, lending charm to your kitchen counter, tabletop, or afternoon tea service.

I love the owl creamer’s huge green eyes ringed in yellow. The handpainted detailing of feathers and feet give this little owl lots of personality, making it the ideal addition to any cream and sugar set. The small owl pitcher is another newcomer to the collection. Bigger than the creamer, its angles and colorful patterning almost feel art deco in shape and line, particularly in the clever construction of the stylized beak as a spout. Use either of these owls as a wise addition to the breakfast table or for afternoon coffee and tea; they also look great as a little accent vase for a small bouquet of wildflowers.

Besides the new owls, the new one of a kind rooster sugar bowl is another great addition for anyone who loves roosters. The comb comes off as the lid, and the vibrant colors compliment other pieces in Gorky’s collection, particularly the rooster and chicken salt and pepper shakers. Pair this sugar bowl with a rooster creamer to create your own one of a kind cream and sugar set that’s sure to get compliments whenever you use it, especially when paired with the brightly colored Gogo mugs.

Judging by how people love Gorky’s salt and pepper shakers, I don’t expect to hold onto these new arrivals for long. I think they would make excellent gifts, particularly for a housewarming or hostess present (or even just for yourself). Like these new creamer sugar set pieces or the salt and pepper shakers? Leave a comment and let us know which are your favorites.

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Creating Your Wedding Registry: Tricks and Tips

Planning a wedding can be a very stressful time. Even after you choose the time and venue, the seemingly endless list of decisions and wedding ideas continues. What will your invitations look like? How will you decorate? What will people eat? Will there be dancing? Where will you register?Wedding celebration

The wedding registry choice is a tough one for many couples. You want to give your guests options, but not seem greedy. Several of my close friends have gotten married in the past few years and many of them were turned off by the “where to register” recommendations as well as the confusing etiquette surrounding the issue. Still, as a way of protecting yourself from a barrage of questions and worse, receiving tons of gifts you don’t actually want, wedding registries really should alleviate some of the wedding stress.

Getting ready to start the wedding registry process yourself (or know someone who is)?

Here are some tips for making the process streamlined and stress-free for everyone:

  • Make a list before deciding where to register. Sit down with your partner and discuss what things you actually want and need. Maybe you already have six sets of sheets between the two of you, but want a fluffy down duvet or even a new bed. Categorize items by room or type to give a sense of where your desires really lay before any shopping occurs. Ideally you’ll set up your registries 4-6 months before your wedding day, so start this process as soon as possible.
  • Choose a few accessible stores. With your list, figure out two or three stores that fit your needs best; managing ten registries is just asking for added stress! Big box stores and online retailors are popular choices because your guests can find gifts no matter where they live. Many let you set up a wedding registry online and then easily manage it without having to go into the store yourself. But online doesn’t have to equal just blah big box; more and more online stores offer wedding registries (including Emilia Ceramics) so you can still choose your favorite places to shop.
  • Make it personal. Speaking of online, there are websites now that let you create your own centralized wedding registry that draws on items you’ve found at places online. A great new website called Knack Registry is doing just that… stay tuned for Emilia Ceramics to partner with them soon!
  • Ask for what you actually like. Seriously – if you think that vase is ugly now, it’s likely to be even uglier to you in ten years (if you’ve not given it away by then).
  • Have a wide price range for gifts. It’s best to give your guests a wide array of options in terms of gifts. A few expensive items are fine, but strive for balance with more affordable options. For example, instead of a complete set of pots and pans, register for the same items individually to give greater flexibility.
  • Register for enough gifts. Again, options are important. Two to three items per guest can be a good metric, particularly if you have many items under $60 on your wedding registry. Remember, people like having options, and might go in together for expensive items or get you several smaller gifts.
  • Ship items to your house. Simplify what you have to keep track of at the wedding itself (especially if you’re going on your honeymoon directly afterwards) and ask guests to ship items directly to you before or after the ceremony. Many registries even let you put in one address for before the big day and another for after to ensure that gifts don’t go astray.

Have other wedding registry survival tips? Please share them by leaving a comment below.

Champagne image courtesy of siebe.

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New Italian Soap Dish from Ceramiche Bartoloni

Do you get excited about Italian soap dishes? Have you ever even thought about Italian soap dishes? Believe it or not, these little ceramic pieces can be quite exciting. I wasn’t much of a fan myself before I visited Ceramiche Bartoloni on a buying trip years ago. The beauty of their hand-painted Italian soap dishes was astounding and the variety of shapes and sizes was a revelation. Practical and decorative, I found that these small accessories add big style throughout the home.

Our newest Italian soap dish at Emilia Ceramics is no exception. In the ever-popular blu limoni design, this square Italian soap dish is too pretty just to stay in the bathroom. It’s also perfect for holding sponges, hand soap, or other cleaning supplies by the kitchen sink. More alternate uses for this Italian soap dish include using it as a small serving dish; it holds lime and lemon slices for drinks or taco night, olives or nuts for appetizers, and any other garnishes for your meal. I’ve also seen these Italian soap dishes used to organize rings, as a place for depositing keys, or even as a stylish spot to store a cellphone.

With so many uses for this small piece, an Italian soap dish is the perfect go-to hostess, housewarming, or birthday gift. Pair this square Italian soap dish or one of the round ones with a luxurious bar of soap and voilà! The vivid blue, yellow, and green of the blu limoni pattern works in both modern or traditional spaces, making this Italian soap dish truly versatile in both usages and design aesthetics. Who knew that soap dishes could look this good and do so much?

Stay tuned for more new ceramic arrivals on the website in coming weeks as I get through sorting all the new pieces arriving from Mexico. Check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages for photos and updates as they happen.

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Spoon Rest Lovers Unite!

It never would have occurred to me that there might be people who don’t like spoon rests. Just look at an Italian pottery spoon rest and you’ll understand my assumption. These ceramic pieces are a quick and easy way to add functional chic to the kitchen, whether it’s on the stove or countertop. What’s there not to love?

It seems that spoon rest lovers are in the majority, at least according to this unscientific survey by theKitchn. Apparently when talking about “useless” kitchen utensils they mentioned spoon rests and were surprised by the fervent response in support of this essential kitchen tool. While spoon rests can be made out of anything from Italian pottery to a bowl to a flattened wine bottle, I agree that they are an-often overlooked yet highly useful addition to any kitchen. The ideal spoon rest really depends on the cook using it — some enjoy a small, delicate Italian spoon rest, while others need a wider and more hefty Mexican spoon rest. For cooks who want a place to rest multiple spoons, ladles, and spatulas all at once, I recommend a flat ceramic plate. Whichever you choose, using a spoon rest is a simple and practical solution that will inject subtle style into your kitchen.

Curious, I decided to see if others shared my spoon rest love. Some folks on Chowhound listed them as one of the pieces that stays on countertops along with appliances like coffee makers, toasters, and cutting boards. No matter how novice or expert a chef, I think that everyone can use a place to put down a spoon/whisk/spatula where it won’t make more of a mess.

I’ve noticed that people often buy Italian pottery spoon rests as gifts. These pieces, along with Italian hand painted mugs, are good for birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, and that holy grail of gift giving: weddings. Practical, functional, and stylish as well as portable, what is there not to love? The variety of designs also means that you can easily find the Italian pottery spoon rest that fits any personality: cherries, lemons, and abstract designs are just a few options that match the décor of any size kitchen space from tiny apartment to professional grade.

Italian hand painted mugs are another good gift choice for many of the same reasons – everyone can always use another mug for their morning coffee or other hot beverage of choice. Perhaps more versatile than pottery spoon rests, Italian hand painted mugs can also function as pen holders, desk organizers, and even a home for toothbrushes. And if you’re looking for the gift for the kitchen that has everything, why not give a matching set like the hand painted cherry pottery spoon rest and mugs? They’ll feel like they’ve stepped into Italy (and think of you) every time they look at the stove.

Spoon image courtesy of mynameisharsha.