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Colorful Gorky Gonzalez Pottery

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

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Gorky Gonzalez Pottery

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

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Gorky Pottery

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

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Gogo Pottery

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

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

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

Shop All Gorky Gonzalez Pottery Here >>

 

 

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Day of the Dead and Mexican Pottery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy Fall from Emilia Ceramics!

I cannot believe it is October already! There’s so much I love about fall – cozy sweaters, rainy days, changing of the leaves, hot chocolate, holiday parties, pumpkin spice, and baking of course! Here at Emilia Ceramics in Boulder, CO, we have many exciting things happening this fall season: We recently imported some amazing new arrivals from Mexico (see a few of my favorites below), plus we have an entire section of the Emilia Ceramics website dedicated to Fall Entertaining Ideas, as well as our usual Holiday Gift Ideas packed with great ceramics to buy for the upcoming season.

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We are also very excited to announce that Emilia Ceramics has been engaging in social outreach to numerous fantastic bloggers, magazines, and interior designers! Make sure to keep your eye out for us, you never know where one of our amazing products might be. Here are some fabulous Emilia Ceramics pieces we have been promoting:

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And with the holiday season quickly approaching, it’s never too early to buy ceramics for all your upcoming parties. Whether for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Day of the Dead, Hanukkah, or Christmas, we have lots of ideas of ceramics to buy for any event. The holidays can be stressful, so get your shopping done early so you can really enjoy them!

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What are you most looking forward to this fall? Will you be buying ceramics or any other home decor pieces for your upcoming holiday parties?

 

 

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Five Must-Have New Arrivals from Emilia Ceramics

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When Emily announced in the spring that she was planning a buying trip to Mexico, I knew we would be in for something special. After all, the crafts of Gorky GonzalezCapelo, and Talavera Vazquez are nothing less than spectacular. I love how beautifully crafted all their pieces are, and the fantastic functionality. It’s hard to choose favorites, but I wanted to pull together a must-have list just in case you were seeking the perfect gift or to add to your own collection.

Continue reading Five Must-Have New Arrivals from Emilia Ceramics

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Buying Trip to Mexico, Part 3: Talavera Vázquez

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

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

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

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

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Above: Carlos Javier Salmeron

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

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Above: Paula Palacios Olvera

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

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

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

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

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

See all our New Arrivals here >>

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

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Learn more about Talavera Vazquez here!

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

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

 

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Buying Trip to Mexico, Part 2: Capelo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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

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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

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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

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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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Capelo Pottery: Old World Charm Meets Sophistication

When it comes to finding a statement piece to add old world charm to your home — or giving a sophisticated, one-of-a-kind gift that is sure to impress — Capelo pottery is a sure bet. Capelo and his small team of artists never paint the same pattern twice and no two shapes are exactly the same. This individuality ensures that every piece of Capelo pottery exudes pure Mexican charm and sophistication. Here’s a rundown of my favorite Capelo pottery pieces, each of which is still available on the website: Capelo Pottery Collection. But remember, there’s only one of each, so if you decide that a particular vase or bowl is the perfect addition to your home, you better hurry! Not only do we have limited Capelo pottery in stock, but there will never be another piece exactly the same.

Statement Pieces: Vases and Candleholders

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Never has a flower vase better filled the description of statement piece than Capelo’s Fleur de Lys Vase. While it shows off long-stemmed flowers perfectly, it also looks great on its own. The rich glazes, beautifully-painted design, and sophisticated shape will dress up any book shelf or entryway nook.

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I am also a huge fan of the Kenzie Candleholder. It’s pure old world Mexican charm makes it the ideal family heirloom to pass down for generations to come. We do have two of these, which make a great pair, especially because they are perfectly imperfect (not exactly the same as each other).

Functional Pieces (that go way beyond function): Plates and Bowls

While Capelo’s Little Plates are just that (little) they have big personality. Never has a dessert plate been more fun to use (whether for dessert, breakfast, tapas, or holding jewelry next to your bed). Each of our six little plates is unique, meaning each person at your table can choose their personal favorite. Then choose another favorite the next day! little_plate_5
Capelo pottery is true artwork. Each piece combines creativity, whimsy, and perfectly-applied glazes. It is unique when such sophisticated artwork is also highly functional, which is why I love Capelo’s bowls so much. They make the perfect backdrop for a tossed salad, but also work as a centerpiece between meals. Or fill them with fruit on your kitchen counter. Equally beautiful and useful, these bowls make great gifts!

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Do you have any Capelo pottery in your home? What do you think it is about Capelo pottery that makes it so special?

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Planning A Day of the Dead Celebration

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Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is a beautiful and historical Mexican holiday with traditions observed to celebrate friends and family members who have passed on. Day of the Dead is celebrated on the 1st and 2nd days of November and has been in existence as far back as 1000 BC. Rich with tradition and steeped in spirit (no pun intended), Día de los Muertos is a wonderful way to remember ancestors and friends. 

Want to plan your own Day of the Dead Celebration? Here are some tips to help.

Plan your Día de los Muertos Menu

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Mexican food (served on Mexican ceramics, of course!) will elevate your gathering. Here are some menu items to consider:

Get the look! Pictured above: Viña Azul Salad Bowl by Talavera Vazquez

Set Up An Altar

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Setting up an altar in memory of the deceased is one of the most important traditions of Day of the Dead celebrations. Altars should have the four elements of nature: water, wind, fire (candles) and earth (flowers) represented. The altar or offerings might include the favorite food of the loved one being honored.

You may enjoy: Fall Tablescapes with Mexican Flair

Sprinkle In A Few bones

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In the pre-Hispanic era skulls were commonly kept as trophies and displayed during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth. Candy skulls made of sugar are part of the tradition, too. Placing the calaveritas or little skulls in the altars as an offering is a custom from urban areas.

Add skulls through ceramics, too. Check out: Smoking Skeleton Hot Plate

Layer in Disguises

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Skull masks and face paint are representative of the little skulls placed at the altar. Set out a mask table and let guests decorate their own mask or apply makeup mimicking the calaveritas. 

You may also enjoy: The Perfect Ceramics to Celebrate Day of the Dead

How will you enjoy Día de los Muertos this year?

Find more inspiration on our Celebrating Day of the Dead Pinterest Board

 

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Celebrating Mexican Pottery with an ‘Indian Summer Taco Party’

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

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

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

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

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Fall Tablescapes with a Mexican Flair

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When you look at Mexican or Spanish inspired spaces you will notice that a lot of the colors are synonymous with Fall. This makes combining Mexican flair with fall decor a sure bet.

If you are looking to put together a Mexican inspired fall tablescape in your home this season, these ideas may just help.

Pottery is a Must

Pottery is an important part of Mexican decor and is great to incorporate into seasonal styling. Whether you choose a gathering of smaller clay pots, a colorful array of Mexican ceramics or one large inspired piece, adding Mexican pottery will instantly create a beautiful fall tablescape.

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Consider Interesting Textiles

Mexican place mats, or table rugs, can bring interest and color to a table. There is no need to use a whole set, use one in the middle of the table as a landing spot for your favorite fall inspired pieces.

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Add Color

When you think of Mexican decor, certain colors come to mind. For me, a rust orange is one of these colors. I like to collect different elements such as candles, pots, trays, and foliage, that feature this rich deep color. Create a grouping with these items, adding a splash of aqua blue can really set the grouping off.

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Sunflowers Add Pop

For a very simple tablescape idea, fill a beautiful vase with sunflowers. Sunflowers are often featured throughout Mexican design and are in abundance this time of year.

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Dia De Los Muertos

Day of the dead is celebrated on November 1st in Mexico. Calavera’s or skulls made from clay or sugar play a significant role in this festive celebration. Incorporating a calavera, or other skeleton-inspired pieces, into your tablescape can make for an interesting talking point.

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The bright rich colors that are a part of Mexican heritage work well with the bright rich colors of fall. Whether you choose to incorporate individual pieces into your seasonal decor, or you choose to go all out, your tablescape is sure to make a statement this fall.

 

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Santa Fe Indian Market: Incredible Handmade Pottery and More

I ended up at Santa Fe’s incredible annual Indian Market just the other week purely by chance. But what a feast for the eyes! The entire plaza downtown was covered in booths with art ranging from ceramics to handweavings to paintings. Native American artists bring to the market truly incredible examples of their work, often from multiple generations.

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This was my first visit to New Mexico. It was much greener than I expected, thanks to recent rains. Santa Fe was full of cool spots, like the revitalized Santa Fe Railyard that now boasts cafes, restaurants, and weekly market events.

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Walking towards the Plaza we passed a bunch of beautiful doorways, churches, and lots of hanging bunches of peppers. Apparently dried peppers are a New Mexico thing; they were everywhere. We got to the fringes of the market and suddenly there were rows and rows of artist’s booths. I have an unerring eye for locating silver jewelry that’s completely beyond my price range, but looking at the incredible, detailed earrings, I knew they were worth every penny.

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The Indian Market covers 14 blocks, with more than 1,000 artists in over 600 booths. All that art plus all the people browsing made for quite a crowd. I saw ceramic artists with tables full of figurative pottery next to other artists who specialized in black glazed bowls and other decorative-looking vessels. Different pueblos have different clay available for their craft, the secrets of which have passed down from generations. I talked with a family who had an array of shiny, black glazed animal ceramics. The smallest pieces had been done by the 12-year-old daughter, larger pieces by the daughter in her 20’s, and then incredibly intricate, large figures made by their grandfather. It seemed that everything the mother had made was already sold. Lesson: if you got to the Santa Fe Indian Market, go on Saturday. And have cash or checks with you.

Unfortunately the batteries in my phone drained taking this video of a boy doing a traditional hoop dance, so I have no photos of the incredible array of handmade pottery that was there. He had incredible flair and verve; he also can’t be more than 5 years old.

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Although the Indian Market is only once a year, handmade ceramics abound year round. I saw talavera ceramics quite frequently, including these ceramic tiles on the wall outside of a shop.

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It’s like the red sports car phenomenon: when you have one, you can’t help but see them anywhere. Though in my case I can’t help but see majolica-style ceramics. It’s probably no surprise that much of the majolica I saw looks quite similar to traditional Mexican ceramics. After all, these ceramic traditions stretch back before today’s borders.

Have you been to Santa Fe’s Indian Market? What caught your eye? Maybe I’ll see you there next year!

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3 Reasons to Love Mexican Vases

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

1. Effortless art and accents

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

green vase with daffodils

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

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

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3. No flower gets left behind

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

mexican vase with flowers

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

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Blue and White Mexican Pottery for All Seasons


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

Blue and white Mexican pottery platters for fall

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

Blue and white Mexican pottery mugs for winter

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

large blue and white mug

Blue and white Mexican pottery planters for spring

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

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Blue and white Mexican pottery vases for summer

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

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Blue and White Ceramic Flower Pots

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

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

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

2. Bright Blue Flower Pots

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

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3. Personality-Packed Flower Pots

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Your Favorite Ginger Jars From Around the World

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

ginger jars

Mexican Ginger Jars

black and white ginger jar - extra large

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

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

Italian Ginger Jars

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

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Spanish Ginger Jars

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

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Where do your favorite ginger jars come from?

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Why Talavera Vazquez Ginger Jars Remain Irresistible


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

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

Outdoor decor

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

ginger jars on patio

Stylish bookends

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

ginger jars on shelves
ginger jars

Secret storage

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

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talavera vazquez ginger jar

Dramatic flower vases

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

ginger jar with flowers

 ginger jar with hydrangeas

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

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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!

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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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Capelo’s Mexican Vases: High Impact Style

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

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

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

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

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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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The Pefect Gift: A Handmade Serving Platter


El Mar Serving Dish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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The Perfect Mexican Ceramics to Celebrate the Day of the Dead

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

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

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

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

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

skeleton bowlCandy skulls image courtesy of Glen Van Etten.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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New Showroom in Boulder, CO!

We’re finally open for business — By appointment, 7 days a week. Call or email and then come visit!

2232 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80302
Phone: 303.442.0180

It’s been an exciting (and exhausting) summer for Emilia Ceramics. After months of finding the right space, moving hundreds of boxes across country, unpacking, painting, and setting up, we’re ready for visitors! Here’s a photo journal of all the work we’ve done, as well as a little peak at what’s in-store…

May, 3013: My mom and I visited Boulder to find a new location for Emilia Ceramics. After 2 full days of looking at warehouses, shops, and even some dentist offices (which would have required lots of construction), we found the perfect space: 2232 Pearl Street. It’s the green building in the middle. How amazing are the clouds in Boulder?!
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Below: The inside before we moved anything in.

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Of course, before we could make any headway in Colorado, we had to pack up the entire business back in California. Luckily, we had the best 3 packers/movers/helpers imaginable — Thank you Edgar, Thomas, and Estuardo! (If anyone in the Bay Area ever needs any sort of help, from painting and construction to moving, these are your guys. Contact me and I will hook you up!)

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We filled the biggest U-Haul truck there is, a 26 footer! Once full, this truck was expertly driven across 4 states and over some huge mountain passes by the most reliable (and reasonably priced) truck driver I could find: my dad! Miraculously, he arrived in Boulder in one piece and still smiling. IMG_3321IMG_3324
Our next job was unpacking this monstrosity, which proved more difficult than you’d imagine because of how well-packed it was. But “The Brown Family Moving Co.” managed it and pretty soon that nice open space was so filled with boxes you could barely move.

IMG_3337IMG_3368 IMG_3371Somehow, over the last month, we’ve found space for everything. In addition to unpacking, we have painted the inside a soft butter yellow, set up furniture, displayed ceramics representative of all the artists we work with, and most recently, painted the outside of the building a Tuscan yellow with blue trim. Next steps include blue window boxes and a new door to match, plus new Emilia Ceramics signs. Needless to say, it’s been a lot of work… but somehow, it seems to finally be coming together.
IMG_3428IMG_3507IMG_3511Mexican ceramicsMexican ceramicsrooster and owl creamersItalian ceramicsIMG_3557IMG_3558I am so excited to finally be open for business! There’s no way I could have done all of this without the help of my family and friends… most especially my parents who have helped every step of the way. THANK YOU!

So if you’re in the Boulder, Colorado area, please come visit! You can set up an appointment to view the space 7 days a week. Just call — 303.442.0180 — or email me at [email protected]com.

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Capelo Pottery, a Unique Take on Mexican Ceramics

Capelo's studio and countryside

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

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

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

Capelo pitcher

square serving dishCapelo plates

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

Capelo fluted footed bowl

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Gorky Gonzalez, a Lesson in Making the Traditional Modern

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

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

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

Gogo bowls

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

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

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Pinterest Finds: Mexican Ceramics

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

We’ll start with Mexico City.

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

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

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

Gorky Gonzalez PlatesGorky Gonzalez Pottery

Mexico itself is a stunningly beautiful place.

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

Capelo Ceramics

Capelo Mexican ceramics

Then there are Talavera Vazquez’s ginger jars

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

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

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Gorky Gonzalez

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

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

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

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

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

View Gorky Gonzalez’s Work
See Other Artists

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We’re Ready for Summer Entertaining with Mexican Serving Dishes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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I Heart Gorky Gonzalez Pottery…

Gorky Gonzalez Pottery

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

Gorky Wall PlatesMexican Pottery

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

El Mar Platter

Owl Pitchers

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

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

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Why are Ginger Jars so Popular as Decor?

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

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

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

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

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

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The Irresistible Charm of Blue and White Mexican Pottery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chinese 13th century plate image courtesy of World Imaging.

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

 

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Making Handmade Mexican Pottery Truly Your Own

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

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

gorky pottery

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

dinner plate

red plate

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

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

gogo_mugs_plates_bowls

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

gogo_mugs_plates

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Seeing Green: Bringing Pantone’s Color of the Year 2013 into Your Home

860 - SouthWestern Gem
Lush, vivid, sophisticated, and luxurious – that sums up emerald, Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2013, quite well. The color of unity, healing, and regeneration, interior design ideas with this year’s green range from energized prints to cool and calm solids. Looking to incorporate the richness of emerald into your home? Try out some of these ideas from wall planters to Mexican vases:

Illuminate

Get some light on the subject with a green table lamp, like this one-of-a-kind lamp by Richard Esteban. Large or small, lamps are a quick and practical way to give any room a design lift (and create atmospheric lighting).

green table lamp

For a romantic touch, add some green candles to the mantle, bedside table, or sideboard. If you love the look of ivory or cream tapers, choose a green candle holder that’s full of personality like this whimsical double candle holder.

green candle holder

Serve

Bring emerald to your guests with green trays, green plates, green glasses, and green pitchers. Ok, maybe all of those at once will feel too much like St. Patrick’s Day, but emerald green serving ware definitely adds a luxe tone to a meal or a party. One of my favorite green trays is this French country cheese platter. The border and handle detail makes your favorite cheeses or other appetizers look extra delicious.

large green cheese plate

Green pitchers add style to water, juice, or wine, and make your favorite drink easy to pour at the table.

green pitcher

Soften

Green also makes for great fabrics that invoke gardens, jungles, jewels, or just a sense of vibrancy. Update your living room with green chevron curtains or add patterned emerald throw pillows to your couch. A green blanket or patterned rug also packs some emerald punch and keeps things looking fresh.

Plant

Flowers and house plants are another quick way to add some natural emerald to your home. This green Mexican vase with an abstract pattern looks stunning filled with blooms or empty on a shelf.

green vase

For those that live on the patio, add some green wall planters with French chic. Wall planters are ideal for trailing plants or for those who want to make the most of small garden spaces. Why leave the emerald only inside?

green wall planter

How are you using emerald for 2013? Do you love green plates, furniture, or other home accessories? Leave a comment and let us know!

Jewel image courtesy of Patrick Hoesly.
Living room image courtesy of decorpad.com via Emilia Ceramics on Pinterest.

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Four Holiday Party Ideas with Gorky Style and Flair

Once again it’s the holiday season. Time to shop, go to parties, and hear Christmas music everywhere you go. Entertaining never seems to stop between work parties, family obligations, and gatherings with friends. Looking for some ways to avoid blah entertaining? Here are four party ideas and ways to make them a success (hint: just add some creativity, Mexican ceramics, and some red plates):

1. Family sit-down dinner. No matter if you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or all three, chances are your family will find a time to gather in December. Use festive trivets to protect your table top from those delicious hot roasts and sides. The bright colors of Mexican ceramics add cheer to your serving platters and plates as well, whether they’re filled with appetizers or desserts. I love this red plate filled with homemade cookies – it’s a hit for guests of all ages.

2. Ugly sweater open house. The open house party is a great way to casually get together with friends, neighbors, and colleagues. This year, have an off-beat theme as a way to make the mingling easier. Ugly holiday sweaters are always a fun bet (and a great conversation starter), especially if you have a contest for the ugliest sweater, sweater with the most sparkles, etc. In keeping with the causal atmosphere, choose Gorky Gonzalez pottery with California cool. Oblong serving trays (like this red serving plate) are ideal for finger foods both savory and sweet. Pile cookies on plates around your party zone so that your guests can’t resist just one more nibble.

 

3. Festive cocktail party. Pull out those recipes for mulled wine, spiked cider, Irish coffee, and other warming delights – ’tis the season for warm drinks. Choose colorful Mexican ceramic mugs for serving. Different colors and patterns make it less likely your guests will lose their drinks. While many warm drinks work well kept on the stove or in a crockpot, offer some classic cocktails (such as an old fashioned or kir royale) pre-mixed in pitchers with labels for your guests. This keeps you from having to play bartender and lets your guests try a variety of old seasonal favorites.

4. Gingerbread house building party. Little kids can build simple homes out of graham crackers and frosting, or you can go whole hog and create a gingerbread mansion with all your guests. Gingerbread houseNo matter the scale, use these Gorky Gonzalez pottery bowls for your “building materials” such as gum drops, candy canes, and sprinkles. Building small gingerbread houses on a large flat Gorky plate ensures plenty of room for creativity.

Do you have ways you use your Gorky Gonzalez pottery in California or anywhere across the country for the holidays? Leave a comment below with any of your favorite tips for entertaining with Mexican ceramics and style.

Gingerbread house image courtesy of Kermitfrog 🙂.

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Behind the Scenes: Talavera Vazquez’s Blue and White Mexican Pottery

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.

Whenever I go to visit Talavera Vazquez I’m always sure I’ll get terribly lost — the streets in Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico look so similar, I’m very relieved to arrive and see the smiling faces of Juan and Roberto Vazquez. They and their team of talented artists are the reason for the unique serving dishes, vases, tibores (ginger jars), planters and other lively Mexican ceramics produced by this family-run workshop.

While the blue and white Mexican pottery (like striped vases and zig zag ginger jars) might be some of my more popular Talavera Vazquez offerings, the workshop itself is an explosion of vibrant color. Juan Vazquez is the fourth generation of the Vazquez family to run this family business and his son Roberto is certainly poised to be the fifth when the time arrives. Not all members of the management team are related, but they still feel like a family. For example, Francisco, who is in charge of all the artwork and my liaison with the designers and artists, has worked with the Vazquez family for over 20 years.

The small team of artists at Talavera Vazquez takes care of all aspects of the ceramic process, from measuring the distance for the stripes on a wine bottle holder to loading the kiln with pieces for the final firing. The motto of this prolific studio is “Nuestros productos se fabrican y decoran a mano, la irregularidad que presentan acentúa su belleza,” (roughly translated as “Our products are made and decorated by hand, the irregularities present accent their beauty”). Every piece is formed by hand, then dipped into a “bath” of base glaze that turns creamy white after firing. When the base glaze has dried, the artists paint the vibrant geometric designs with crisp edges. Watching them work, I’m always amazed at the precision – there’s no way to erase a mistake or a drip of the brush. The results are unique serving dishes, pottery planters, and other Mexican ceramics that truly stand out.

Talavera Vazquez continues to flawlessly combine traditional techniques with modern design. I’m excited to have new zigzag tibores in yellow and gray, as well as more blue and white pottery planters. With all their wonderful Mexican ceramics, I’m never sure what new discoveries I’ll make on my next visit. But I’m always thrilled to be able to share them with you!

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What Makes Italian Coffee Mugs So Special?

Are you a coffee addict? Or perhaps a tea fanatic? No matter how you like your caffeine fix, having the right mug makes all the difference. Handle design, thickness, and size are factors that make the difference between an Italian coffee mug you use everyday and one that just sits on the shelf.

Why does origin matter for contemporary cups and saucers? Well, think about your favorite beverages. Coffee grown in Latin America usually has lighter, citrus flavors while African beans are full of berry notes and earthy depth. Tea harvesting methods and varieties also vary from India to China, with different tastes depending on if the leaf is part of the first picking or last of the season. Because handmade ceramics use local clay, you’ll also find some differences in mugs from places like Mexico, Italy, and France in terms of color and firing methods used. The biggest obvious difference is in the traditional patterns that decorate French, Mexican, and Italian coffee mugs though. From lemons and fruits to roosters and flowers to playful polka dot mugs, there are as many designs as there are ways to make a cup of coffee!

The case for using ceramic mugs dates back hundreds of years. Ceramic keeps beverages hot for longer than most other materials, making it the ideal material for Italian coffee mugs right from the start of the coffeehouse vogue that started in the 17th century. Even today ceramic cones are used in serious coffee shops (and by home aficionados) all over the U.S. as a way to make a consistently delicious cup. Using a scale to get the correct proportion of grounds to water might be a little over the top, but I’ll admit that the results are delicious.

Both mugs and contemporary cups and saucers have their own advantages. A mug lends itself to moving around the house or office while a cup and saucer is better suited for staying put (and holding your spoon and a cookie or other small snack). I love the massive size of the Gran Taza mug in the afternoon (fewer need to go back for refills), but always start my morning with an Italian coffee mug for my first cup. For a few minutes I feel like I’m back in an Italian café in the heart of Tuscany.

What are your favorite ways to drink coffee and tea? Are you a fan of Italian ceramic coffee mugs, French espresso cups, or other contemporary cups and saucers? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Behind the Scenes: Gorky Gonzalez’s 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 handpainted ceramics come to life.

A visit to Gorky Gonzalez’s workshop in Guanajuato, Mexico is truly a feast for the senses. There’s color and creative genius everywhere you look, piled in ceramics both finished and in process. Considering the number of awards and international acclaim Gorky’s pottery has received, it’s no surprise that his development as a ceramic artist has international flavor as well.

An antique piece of Majolica pottery that Gorky found in the early 1960s inspired him to rescue this basically forgotten craft. After studying in Japan (where he met his wife Toshiko), he returned with a variety of techniques that have truly revitalized Mexican ceramics. The results blend past and present, creating Mexican ceramics that are unique and timeless.

Today Gorky Gonzalez and Toshiko’s son Gorky Jr. (known as Gogo) handles the daily responsibilities of the business, continuing the family tradition. On my most recent visit to Mexico this past June I was delighted to find all three members of the Gonzalez family hard at work with their dedicated team of artists. I visited with about six artists who were working on the wheel or painting these vibrant Mexican ceramics by hand. Whether dinner plates or mugs, each piece is treated with care through the multistep process that Majolica requires including multiple firings in the kiln.

With a workshop as large and bustling as this one it can seem like it might get old painting the same Mexican ceramics every day. However, there are always plenty of new pieces and designs being created as well as the continuation of old favorites. I talked with one artist who’s been painting Gorky pottery for nine years and still loves it. Each piece has a design guide that the artists follow, but they are encouraged to put their own individual stamp on it so in the end, no two pieces are ever exactly alike.

On this trip I was lucky enough to find some truly unique pieces to add to my Gorky pottery collection: dinner plates with the Catrina design (perfect for Dia de los Muertos), new creamers with owls and roosters, and even some fun new dip bowls. As Gorky pottery designs expand to include more traditional patterns as well as the modern Gogo collection, I’m always excited to share these amazing Mexican ceramics with you.