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Spring: The Official Season of Emilia Ceramics

Yesterday, I sent out a newsletter with 6 Ideas for Spring Entertaining. The hardest part was getting the list down to 6! I could easily offer up 60 pieces from the Emilia Ceramics collection that are made for all the fun events this time of year: The beginning of barbecue season, outdoor dinner parties, Easter and Passover feasts, casual brunches, Mother’s Day celebrations, the list goes on and on. So I thought I’d put together a more exhaustive list of all my favorite serving dishes, pitchers, vases, and tableware for spring. Here goes…

Serving Platters

Let’s start with platters… whether you’re serving honey-baked ham, leg of lamb, burgers, or barbecued chicken, these are my favorite go-to platters:

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Serving Bowls

When I think of spring entertaining, I think of salad. Green salad, fruit salad, and of course, potato salad. These are my favorite salad bowls — as well as a few dip bowls that also come in handy this time of year!

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Pitchers

I love how in Europe they serve wine from hand-crafted pitchers. It seems to add to the earthiness of the beverage and can actually keep white wine colder than a bottle. Of course, these pitchers are also great for serving lemonade, iced tea, or water. And when they’re not being used to pour, they look fantastic with a bouquet of fresh flowers.
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agua_pitcher_sideVases

A beautifully crafted and painted vase looks just as great with flowers as it does without. These are my three picks for displaying fresh spring blooms:

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Tableware

I love all the new tableware we have at Emilia Ceramics. Whether it’s Gogo’s salad plates, Richard’s polka-dot mugs and bowls, or Ceramica Valenciana’s adorable dinner and dessert plates, adding one of these sets to your table is the perfect way to celebrate spring.

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

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

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

hillsides around Guanajuato, Mexico

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

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

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

Capelo statement vase

footed serving bowllittle blue plateCapelo Mexican ceramics

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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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Everyone’s Favorite Striped Vase: The Especial

I’ve recently joined Pinterest and am amazed at how many people love the stripe painted vases of Talavera Vazquez just as much as I do. The biggest stand-out is the Especial stripe vase in blue and white. Completely modern, yet with a timeless curve, what is it about this vase that makes everyone love it?

The colors of this stripe painted vase are definitely a strong point. With crisp black and white, rich blue and white, or warm burnt orange and white, there’s an Especial vase to fit every decorating scheme. The stripes are actually a continuous hand painted spiral that wraps around the vase, giving it a wonderfully smooth line that looks good from all angles.

The shape of the vase also plays a big part in its allure. The gentle curves that flair up at the top lend both functionality and style to the vase. In fact, the sculptural appeal makes the Especial stripe painted vase striking even without flowers; it’s an eye-catching accent on a bookcase or side table.

Of course, the narrowing at the top is perfect for keeping bouquets aligned just the way you want them. The large format of the Especial vase means it looks lovely with big flowers. Sunflowers and tulips are some of my favorites. Yellow forsythia or pussy willow branches are another great fit since this vase won’t easily topple over and it’s tall enough to balance long branches.

Sometimes though, a smaller stripe-painted vase is needed. Talavera Vazquez makes a whole range of smaller vases with this striking spiral pattern. Small flower arrangements look stunning in the blue and white round vase or a small stripe painted vase. The classic cylinder shape of the striped simple vase is perfect for flowers, toothbrushes, or pens on a desktop.

Large or small, stripe painted vases are easy to love with the range of shapes and colors by Talavera Vazquez. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

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Blog Round Up: Ceramic Vases

There’s nothing like a bouquet of fresh flowers to instantly brighten a room. Of course, choosing the right vase can make or break a floral arrangement, from a dramatic centerpiece vase to small accents with bud vases. The best vases also hold their own when empty, adding a decorative punch to any room in the home.

Since everyone’s talking about the holidays, let’s not forget that vases make great gifts — people can always use another interesting shape or size in their collection. Colorful vases or plain, they are definitely a design staple. So to continue our blog round up series on great design in 2011, let’s look at who else loves vases in all their gorgeous forms.

Stripes. Black and white stripes are definitely a hallmark of 2011, coming off the runway and into the home. Design Muse called it “jailbird chic,” while The Swell Life suggested using black and white striped accents to decorate for Halloween (love it!). Of course, stripes don’t have to just be black and white – one of my favorite pieces is the blue striped vase by Talavera Vazquez. It’s definitely a centerpiece vase, holding its own whether empty or full of sunflowers, tulips, or roses.

Shape. Curved, linear, or squat, the variety of vase shapes is matched only by the variety of flowers to put in them. DesignLike featured both short and tall ceramic vases in their review of the best handmade pieces to use at home and give as gifts. Elle Decor loved the simplicity of the blue striped simple vase – it’s great for a small bouquet and doubles beautifully as a toothbrush or pen holder. If you’re into interestingly shaped vases, the round Paloma vase is a great addition to any vase collection. This blue ceramic vase lends itself well to flowers that spill out over the rim, like daisies or mixed wildflowers.

Decorative Prowess. Of course, vase centerpieces have long been a decorating staple. Use bold pieces like tall ceramic vases to create an attractive table for a dinner party or everyday sophistication. Atmosphere Interior Design talks about vases as a stylish kind of “chachka”, something worth displaying or collecting. The Morsel Designs loves blue as a dominating decorating color, featuring blue and white vases filled with blue hyacinths.

Speaking of blue and white, I couldn’t agree more with guest writer Mackenzie from Design Darling when she talked on Look Linger Love about the great combination of navy blue and hot pink — not to mention the fact that she featured the Emilia Ceramics blue zigzag vase and blue striped vase as the perfect additions to this decorating scheme.

I know that I’ll be giving some gorgeous vases this year as gifts, now just to decide which ones!

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How to Find the Perfect Vase

Having grown up with a mom who was (and is) a serious gardener, I look forward to all the beautiful flowers blooming this time of year. Whether you pick a bouquet from your garden or buy one from your favorite florist, the perfect vase really makes a difference when it comes to displaying your flora. But how to choose what you really need with the huge variety of vases out there?

My advice is to look at 4 factors: shape, size, color, and decoration. Small flowers look overwhelmed in a huge vase and tall flowers topple over if they don’t have the support they need. Let’s look at some of my favorite flowers and see what fits them best.

Tulips – Bold with rich, vibrant colors, the stalks need the support of a tall vase so you don’t have the blossoms leaning too far over. The fluted rim found on many Mexican ceramic vases allows the bouquet to spread out just enough. I love the versatility of blue and white vases when it comes to complimenting these flowers, though they look great with any brightly colored blooms.

Sunflowers – The favorite of Van Gogh, these look fantastic fresh or dried, adding a splash of bright color to any room. Even though the stalks are rigid, a taller vase is vital for supporting the heavy heads (like the one pictured below, on the left). Solid pieces, like Mexican ceramic vases, are a perfect fit. Choose blue and white vases or black and white vases to contrast with and really show off the bright yellow.

Buds – I love a single bud waiting to unfurl, particularly a rose bud fresh from the garden. Instead of a large ceramic vase, little delicate bud vases (above, right) enhance their fragility. When no buds are around, these charming little vases make great holders for toothbrushes, pens or make-up brushes.

Small mixed bouquet – Create a stunning centerpiece with a bunch of gathered wildflowers or a bouquet that caught your fancy at the farmer’s market. For a small bunch of flowers, I love this round black and white vase, which won’t overwhelm your blooms. Like blue and white vases, a black and white vase enriches natural beauty with its simple color scheme.

And then there are vases that look good even without flowers. Use a large ceramic vase to add personality to a nook, windowsill, or as a year-round centerpiece… it will make a serious statement, whether full or empty.