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How to Create Stunning Planters this Summer

Container gardening is a very satisfying way to brighten up your porch or yard, and it’s a great way to get started with gardening. You can fill planters will beautiful flowers, delicious herbs or even try your hand at vegetable gardening. Today, we’re looking at ways to create stunning planters using foliage and flowers. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Emilia Ceramics Planters

1. Determine the structure

Thinking about a plant’s size and shape will help you figure out what kind of statement you’ll want your planter to make. Plants tend to be either upright, broad or trailing and successful containers usually include a combination of all three. Start with the tallest upright plant and work your way to the trailing.

You may also enjoy – Black and White Love: Must-Have Planters

2. Think about where your planter will be located

Will your pot be placed in the sun or shade? Do you want it to be on a porch or deck? Think about where the pot will be located and then select plants that will like living there. Labels on plants will usually list their sun/shade requirements.

You may also enjoy – Spring into the Season with Pottery Wall Planters

3. Consider the plant’s texture and color

Foliage and color are both important in creating a successful container garden. Once you’ve gathered the plants you’re considering, arrange them based on the size of the leaves and their surface texture, as well as their color combinations. A well-composed container garden can be as important to a space as a piece of furniture – it can create energy and excitement.

You may also enjoy – Blue and White Planters: Fashionable Chic for Your Plants

4. Don’t forget the style of the pot

Just as the structure, location, texture and color are important components of a stunning plant, so are the details of the pot you choose to put it in. You can choose from a variety of finishes such as terra cotta, plastic, wood, or our favorite, ceramic planters! There are festive zigzag planters, contemporary striped planters, and more elaborate hand painted designs. Each ceramic planter will add beauty and richness to the plants you choose to use.

You may also enjoy – Using Ceramic Planters for Curb Appeal and More

We would love to see what you come up with! Feel free to share your creations to our Facebook page

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Gift Ideas for the Modern Dad

Gorky Gonzalez taco platter

asparagus_el_mar

Dads these days are Jacks of more trades than ever… from carrying their babies around in Bjorn’s and being master chefs, to tending the garden and knowing all about wine varietals. They are balanced, fun and not constricted by stereotypes. In honor of these multidimensional modern dads, I wanted to share some awesome modern dad gift ideas.

Foodie Dad

Foodie dad likes his kitchen gadgets – whether he’s tenderly preparing meat for the grill, exploring a dish for the slow cooker, or putting together veggies for the sous vide, he will love anything you give him for the kitchen! Here are a few suggestions:

Barn Red Platter

store-by-country-france-richard-esteban-fish-platter-barn-re-450px-450pxThe smooth surface and intricately decorated border make it a subtle, yet extraordinary backdrop for serving appetizers or a main dish. 

Deep Round Black Casserole black casserole dish
A super-functional dish, which can be used to bake a casserole or serve anything from salad to pasta.

Explore all platters here >>

Gardening Dad

Gardening dad spends his summer outdoors tending to all things growing and green. He takes pride in a beautiful landscape and isn’t too manly to plant a few flowers… or herbs for cooking! He appreciates functionality as much as aesthetics. He may enjoy these gift ideas:

Blue and White Square Planter

square blue and white planter

This blue and white planter will add style and authentic Mexican flavor to dad’s patio. Plus, a hole for draining makes this piece fun and functional.

Black and White Striped Oval Planter

black and white striped oval planter

This fun and festive planter is a great addition to even the most contemporary home. Dad will love to fill it with flower pots on the back porch, and once the season is over you can fill it with colorful citrus or even use it as a place to store your mail.

See all planters here >>

Wine-Loving Dad

Does the man in your life spout out terms like buttery, oaky, or full bodied? Does he talk about brilliance, tannins and texture? These wine-loving guys probably spent their college years geeking out on stereo equipment, and now they love to geek out on California varietals. Forget the bottle and give your oenofile an authentic pitcher to serve wine the Europeans way. Another great gift for the wine-loving dad is on of these hand-crafted wine bottle holders:

black zigzag wine bottle holder
blue striped wine bottle holder
black striped wine bottle holder

Wine bottle holders are a fabulous gift for the modern dad because they can also double as utensil holders! Take a look at our entire wine bottle/utensil holder collection here.

I hope these Emilia Ceramics gift ideas for the modern dad can help you find the perfect accessory to compliment his passions. Need more ideas? See all our Fathers Day Gift Ideas here >>

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Black and White Love: Must-Have Planters

black and white planter

Spring is in the air and with that comes an explosion of color. I love color as much as the next person (especially orange), but there’s no better way to show off those vibrant hues than with an elegant backdrop of black and white.

Here are some must-have black and white planters to help show off your colorful spring blooms.

Black and White Square Planter – Hidalgo

black and white planter

This stylish black and white planter by the artisans of Talavera Vazquez adds subtle Mexican flavor to the patio. We love the Hidalgo design for it’s unique softness and depth, which speaks to the skill of the Vazquez artists.

You may enjoy – Black and White Love: Striped Vases and Decor

 Black and White ZigZag Planter

black and white planter

Here’s another festive planter by Talavera Vazquez. It exudes Mexican charm, making any patio or garden feel warmer and more relaxed.

You may enjoy – Black and White Love: Chevron 5 Ways

Oval Planter – Black and White Stripes

black and white planter

 

This fun and festive planter is a great addition to even the most contemporary home. Use it to display colorful citrus fruit… fill it with flower pots on the back porch… or keep your mail in it. Another great use for this black and white planter? A succulent garden >>

You may enjoy – Black and White Love: Ginger Jars

Square Planter – Black and White Stripes

black and white planter

Add a contemporary Mexican twist to your patio with this black and white striped planter.

You may enjoy – 3 Steps to Update Home Decor with Black and White Pattern Mixing

No matter which black and white planter you choose, you’re sure to liven up any space …. especially when you fill it with colorful flowers! Another tip: These planters look great mixed and matched together. Try combining the square Hidalgo, tall chevron, and oval stripe planter. With the variety of sizes and shapes, you’ll have the perfect black and white planter for all your spring flowers.

Explore our entire collection of black and white here. 

 

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Blue and White Mexican Pottery for All Seasons


asparagus_el_mar

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

Blue and white Mexican pottery platters for fall

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

Blue and white Mexican pottery mugs for winter

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

large blue and white mug

Blue and white Mexican pottery planters for spring

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

blue_white_planters

Blue and white Mexican pottery vases for summer

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

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Blue and White Ceramic Flower Pots

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

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

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

2. Bright Blue Flower Pots

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

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 4.22.15 PM

3. Personality-Packed Flower Pots

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

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

teal_planter_plate

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

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

 

 

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How (and Where) Does Your Garden Grow?

I spent last weekend coveting a garden of my very own after trimming lavender and picking lemons in the backyard of some friends. Although my current apartment life doesn’t include a place for fruit trees, I have managed to actually get herbs to start this year. Visions of summertime basil bounty are dancing in my head.

pallet herb garden

Thinking about gardening this summer but not sure if you have the space? Apartment Therapy’s five small vegetable garden ideas are definitely a good place to start. Vertical gardens – like this pallet garden or a collection of pottery wall planters – mean that you don’t need to do much bending over in the dirt. Raised beds require some more square footage, but it’s definitely possible to pack a salad’s worth of vegetables into just a few square feet. Container gardens can be made out of practically anything, though currently I’m sticking to colorful planters and window boxes. And if you’re just starting out with growing things, lettuce or some herbs in your windowsill are perfect. Or maybe sunflowers? I’m going to give ’em a try, see what happens.

sunflower sprouting

Of course, for those blessed with space for a larger garden than my windowsill, you have more options. Colorful flowers add life to patios and porches, especially when kept in blue and white planters. Sunset Magazine suggests snapdragons, calendula, nemesia, and more for colorful containers. Looking for tasty summer feasts? Dig into the wonders of tomato plants, basil, squash, and whatever other vegetables you find yourself reaching for at the market.

french market

One note if starting plants from seeds: take the time to sprout them inside first, then move outdoors whenever recommended for planting in your area. I’ve had success starting basil this spring with the help of a plastic bag over the small pot. It lets enough air circulate so that seeds don’t mold while keeping everything moist. Here’s my second batch of basil just starting to set out tiny shoots.basil seedlings

If you want immediate gratification, find small plants at your local nursery. I’m definitely happy with my impulse buy of lemon thyme a few weeks ago. And doesn’t it look great in that zig zag planter? Maybe I’ll find a blue and white planter for my next herb batch… and start looking into making some more vertical space with pottery wall planters.

window plants

No matter what you’re growing this year, happy planting!

Pallet garden image via DIY Show Off.

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Spring into the Season with Pottery Wall Planters

pottery wall plantersWhen I was a little girl, I remember spending hours in my grandmother’s garden whenever we would drive to visit her in Illinois. My favorite time was spring, when lily of the valley was in bloom. A bit earlier there’d be crocuses, then summer meant roses galore. She also had a lovely vertical garden, with hanging planters filled with strawberries and other trailing vines. I very much wanted to be taller so that I could get at those fruits!

Even though I no longer live in the Midwest, I still have a deep love for growing things. And planters allow that to happen, even here in my San Francisco apartment. Pottery wall planters are great for small gardens and porches or patios alike. They add color and depth to larger gardens too, allowing vines to cascade freely and those delicious strawberries to grow out of reach of curious children. Trust me on this one.

Planters are also great this time of year as a way to acclimate indoor plants to move back outside for the warm months. They can sit outside to catch the sun, but come back inside to avoid any frost. Once April rolls around, a cluster of blue and white planters is the perfect backdrop for the bright green shoots of flowers or vegetables. Much like blue and white vases, blue and white planters go with most decorating schemes and make any plant look even better. It’s fun to play with different shapes and sizes, mixing square planters with round and oval planters in similar patterns.

pottery wall planterblue and white planterblue and white planter

No matter the color or shape of your planter, make sure that you plants have enough space for their roots to grow. A pot-bound plant in an unhappy plant. Filling the bottom of your planter with gravel or pot shards is another good way to ensure drainage (and happy plants).

What will you fill your planters with this season? Do you prefer pottery wall planters, small planters, large planters, or another kind of planter entirely? Leave a comment below with your favorite plants and planters; I’m looking to expand out from orchids and spider plants this year.

blue and white planters

Pottery wall planter image via Pinterest.

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3 Steps to Update Home Decor with Black and White Pattern Mixing

It’s simple: black and white together just pops. From home to runway, there’s a reason this classic color combination is never out of style. They love black and white at Vogue: think bold, graphic prints. They love black and white at Domino for its chic appeal. Here at Emilia Ceramics we love black and white planters, black and white ginger jars, and black and white vases for their versatility. Year in, year out, black and white just looks good.

black and white prints

But how do you give black and white decor a contemporary twist? Start mixing patterns. Just like in the fashion world, pattern mixing is very much of the moment. If you need help embracing this look with your wardrobe, check out the print mixing guide at Refinery29. Their advice for clothes also translates into your living room, office, bedroom, or kitchen. Here are three steps to make the transition painless:

1. Start with stripes. Black and white stripes can be evenly spaced, thick and thin, wide or narrow… an entire gamut of textures and styles. If mixing prints is new for you, try mixing different kinds of black and white stripes with solid colored pieces. This approach is ideal for pieces like black and white ginger jars.

black and white ginger jarblack and white vase

2. Add flowers. Colorful floral prints play well with black and white stripes. So do colorful bouquets in black and white vases. Or keep the monochrome vibe going with white blooms in either vases or planters. The best thing about black and white vases? They look just as great full of flowers as they do empty, whether on a shelf or in a special nook.

 

3. Embrace graphic prints of varying sizes and textures. Black and white style looks best when used in a variety of accent types. Add a mix of black and white printed cushions to your sofa and chairs for an instant refresh (they seriously go with almost everything). Herringbone, houndstooth, chevron, polka dots… the pattern possibilities are endless for everything from curtains to desk accessories. Sticking to the clean color palette allows for these patterns to play well with others, giving the room a cohesive (but not overly matchy) feel.

black and white prints

Have black and white pieces you adore? Share them on our Facebook page. Looking for more black and white inspiration? Check out our black and white favorites on Pinterest.

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4 Fun Bridal Shower Ideas that You’ll Actually Enjoy

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

Go on.

We’re waiting.

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

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

1. Have a couple’s shower.

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

2. Go outside.


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

3. Celebrate a day in the life.

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

spanish mugs

4. Have a cuisine-inspired theme.

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

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

Mexican ceramic serving platter

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

Gift image courtesy emily katherine may.

Picnic image courtesy Urban Hafner.

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3 Ways to Chase Away Winter Blues with Ceramic Flower Pots

How do you get rid of wintertime blues? Sunlamps, bright colors, and warm cups of hot chocolate are some favored approaches, as is sprucing up indoor greenery to give your eyes a break from the dreary greys that dominate this time of year. Here are 3 easy ways to refresh your home for 2014 using plants and planters:

blue and white planter

1. Fill up your windows with greenery.

Chase the winter blues away by accenting your home with chic blue and white ceramic flower pots or large planters and window boxes. If you don’t already have blooming indoor plants, add color with ferns, coleus, or forced white azaleas and hydrangeas. Their delicate snowball-like bloom fits the season perfectly. Plants that get western light tend to fare better in the winter, so go all out in your west-facing windows.

2. Tuck plants into unexpected places.

Does your bathroom get any good natural light? Add aloes, bromeliads, and orchids (plants that all love humidity) to countertops, shelves, or by the tub.

bathroom plants
Try air plants if there’s not a good place for a blue and white ceramic flower pot filled; they often just need daily misting. For living or dining rooms, add unexpected greenery by training your favorite vine around the top of the room’s walls. Kitchen windows, breakfast nooks, and bedrooms are also ideal places to add a blue and white planter filled with lush greens.

3. Focus on entry spaces.

blue_and_white
The weather outside is frightful, but a sheltered porch or entryway is a good place to add some color and texture with hearty plants. Decorative grasses, camellias, winterberries, even ornamental kales work wonders placed in blue and white ceramic flower pots. Complimentary colored planters will make your plants really stand out from the dull landscape around you, cheerfully welcoming anyone who comes to your home.

Do you have favorite winter plants? Other ways to chase away the winter blues? Share them in a comment below!

camellias

Bathtub plants image courtesy JohnHedtke.

Camellias image courtesy Jocey K.

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Our Stylish Chevron Favorites for the Home

Chevrons and zig zags are taking homes by storm. From fabric to tiles, black and white chevron vases to table settings, chevrons are a chic, modern way to update a room. Looking for some ways to add chevron to your own style? Why not try…

Chevron Rugs:

pink chevron rug
chevron rug on stairs

chevron rug
Chevron Tiles:

chevron tiles in kitchen
chevron floor tiles
Chevron Pillows:

chevron pillows
chevron pillows in living room
Chevron Chairs:

chevron chairblack and white chevron chairBlack and White Chevron Vases and Planters:

black and white chevron vaseblack and white chevron planterOr Chevron Walls (yikes?!):

black and white chevron wall

Of course, chevrons don’t have to just stay in one place. Who can resist Chevron Stationary:

chevron note cards
Chevron Clothes:

chevron pants
chevron shirt

…Or Even Chevron Shoes!

black and white chevron wedges
Can’t get enough of chevron? Check out our Pinterest board devoted to chevron and let us know what you like!

yellow chevron vase

 

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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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Blue and White Planters: Fashionable Chic for Your Plants

Trend alert! Indigo is back (did it ever really leave?) as a color for inside the home. Elle Decor’s roundup of these blue home accessories highlights lots of blue and white for everything from rugs to walls to plates. Timeless chic indeed.

blue and white planterBut why should your table have all the fun? Accessorizing your houseplants can be another blue and white plantereasy way to freshen up a room. The simplest solution is to hide terracotta pots in cachepots or another more decorated planter. So bring on the blue and white planters for a stylish update for your favorite ferns and flowers, both indoors and outside.

Of course, not all blue and white planters are fashion-forward. Graphic prints like chevrons or stripes are playful and bold. More intricate patterning adds subtle sophistication. There’s also the option of mixing different solid colored planters together to make your own blue and white display in a window or on a patio. The blue planters by Richard Esteban embody quintessential French charm and look stunning paired with the designs of the Mexican artists at Talavera Vazquez. Voilà: globe-trotting, fashionable plants.

 

 

 

 

teal blue planter

But don’t limit yourself to to flat surfaces. Pottery wall planters help take your color scheme up, up, up; use them to accessorize any outdoor space with fashionable results. And for those of you with a black thumb, don’t despair: blue and white vases are the perfect home for a weekly bouquet, adding a green note that doesn’t need to last and last.

zigzag blue and white planter

How do you feel about indigo as décor? What do you put in your blue and white planters? Have tips for the best plants for pottery wall planters? Leave a comment and let us know; then make sure to check out our blue and white board on Pinterest.

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How Does Your Garden Grow? With Outdoor Pots of All Sizes, That’s How

ceramic pots for plantsJuly is truly summer: hot days and nights, Fourth of July, picnics, grilling… what is there not to love? Warm evenings (for those of us outside of San Francisco at least) lend themselves to outdoor lounging and dining, enjoying garden-ripened fruits and vegetables right next to where they grow.

Planters are the perfect way to spruce up any outdoor space, whether that means housing ferns or tomato plants with style. Ceramic pots for plants are considered the best since the clay body keeps in the moisture longer, helping plants stay cool in the hot, hot heat. Outdoor pots come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small flower pots to massive planters like those made by Poterie Ravel that can hold entire trees. The key for making your planters look great? Mixing and matching planter shapes and sizes. Here are my three top tips for getting the most out of your planters on your porch, patio, or out in the garden.

1. Pick planters with your plants in mind. A single pansy will look dwarfed by a large flower pot while a small flower pot doesn’t give the roots of a larger plant enough room to grow. If you’re wanting to make a mini garden, an oval or rectangle planter can be a good choice with enough space for multiple plants. Hanging planters are excellent for vines or even strawberries, adding color and interest to your walls as well.

large blue and white striped planter

2. Mix colors and patterns. Uniform brown planters can get a little old. Add a zig zag planter in ceramic and suddenly your plants pop. Think of planters like cushions in your living room; keep the colors or patterns related and then mix things up to your heart’s delight. Greens, yellows, and blues all compliment most flowers and plants while black and white planters add some modern chic indoors or out. Ceramic pots for plants do well outside or inside, dressing up plants in your garden as well as your living space.

Poterie Ravel French ceramic planters

small flower pot

3. Clusters look better than rows. A line of clay flower pots looks a bit flat, so move pots together in a mix of heights and widths for a more visually interesting display. Anchor your arrangements around a larger and taller pot, grouping smaller planters around it in a mix of shapes. Fill the larger pot with tall plants, leaving low lying greenery for the smaller plant containers. I love how the round zig zag planter looks with small polka dot pots or the square black and white striped planter with a patterned oval planter or two nearby.

polka dot planter

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Blue Monday: A Photo Essay

Blue and white. This color combination invokes the sea, summers in Greece, island living, as well as refined taste and timeless elegance. Popular with decorators the world over, blue and white accents are an excellent way to get ready for hot summer days. Try blue and white bowls, blue and white vases full of flowers, or even refresh your morning coffee routine with a new blue coffee mug. Here are some favorite uses of this fabulous color combination to keep the vibe cool inside as the temperatures rise outside.

Blue and white bowls are perfect for serving or decorating.

blue and white bowlblue and white bowl

Blue and white accent pillows quickly transform a bedroom or living room.

 

Blue and white pitchers handle sangria or fresh orange juice with stylish ease.

blue pitcher

blue and white pitcherblue and white pitcher

Before the heat of the day sets in, blue and white cups make morning coffee and tea taste even better.

blue and white cup and saucer

Illuminate rooms with blue and white lamps.

blue and white lampblue and white chevron lamp

Blue plates make for appealing food presentation, no matter the meal.

blue plate

blue plate

Show off fresh flowers from your garden with blue and white vases. Or make them beautiful outdoors with blue and white planters.

Blue and White Striped Vase

blue and white vase

blue and white planter

What ways do you like to use blue and white? Check out our blue and white Pinterest board for more uses of this timeless color combination and get into a summer mood.

Blue and white umbrella image courtesy of eli-sabeth.tumblr.com via Emilia Ceramics on Pinterest.

Blue and white vases on table image courtesy of chinoiseriechic.blogspot.com via Emilia Ceramics on Pinterest.

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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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Channel Your Inner Zebra with Black and White Stripe Decor

fall tablescape ideas

There’s something about black and white that just exudes timeless chic. From stripes to chevrons and zig zags, black and white is definitely the palette for graphic accents that make an impact throughout your home. Instead of repainting a wall or investing in a huge carpet, adding black and white touches with ceramics is an easy way to instantly update any space.

Take black and white vases. These look fabulous displayed empty on a shelf or filled with flowers on a table. Whether a large black and white striped vase or small, choose an interesting shape for an unusual accent. Also think about the kinds of flowers you like. Large vases will dwarf small bouquets but be perfect for large sprays of branches, lilies, sunflowers, and other more sizable bouquets.

Of course, mixing white vases and black vases is another way to add visual interest to a room. A collection of different shapes and sizes instantly transforms a console, especially if some vases have flowers inside. This ivory urn by Poterie Ravel adds some mass to any arrangement and is the perfect base for a lovely spring flower arrangement. I also like pairing a stripe painted vase with a zigzag vase or another pattern. Who says things have to match perfectly? It’s so much more interesting when they don’t.

 

 

 

But why stop at black and white vases? Black and white throw pillows update sofas and chairs; if you want a bigger change think about some elegant black and white slipcovers for your larger furniture pieces. Curtains, throw rugs, or black and white photographs are all great ways to inject some zebra-inspired style into a room (of course, you don’t need to think about zebras when you think about black and white stripes). Talavera Vazquez’s black and white ceramic planters, bowls, and ginger jars are other ways to add a modern touch.

What do you love about black and white? Have a favorite flower that looks great in black and white striped vases? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

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

If Mom likes…

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

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

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

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

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

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Four New Uses for Italian Coffee Mugs

The reasons for using Italian ceramic coffee mugs for your favorite hot drinks go far beyond aesthetics. The ceramic keeps things warm for longer, especially if you pre-heat the mug by running a little warm water in it first. Even better, ceramic doesn’t conduct heat like metal or glass, keeping your drink warm while still allowing you to hold your coffee, tea, or hot chocolate comfortably.

Italian coffee mug

Italian ceramic coffee mugsBut with so many great Italian coffee mugs out there, there’s no reason to limit their use to just drinks alone. Here are four ways to enjoy your mugs without coffee inside:

1. Go green. Italian coffee mugs can quickly transform into a fantastic mini planter. Add some rocks or gravel to the bottom for drainage, then soil and a small plant such as a succulent or fern. This can be a useful way to use a chipped or cracked Italian ceramic coffee mug that you love.

2. Get organized. Can’t ever find a pen? Use an Italian coffee mug to hold various writing utensils anywhere in the house, from study to family room.

 

Italian ceramic coffee mug

3. Serve creatively. Contemporary cups and saucers can also be a useful way to serve your next meal. Italian coffee mugs are great for starting off your next dinner with a small portion of soup. Mix and match different Italian ceramic coffee mugs to give the table some unexpected color. This works particularly well with cream or blended soups; everyone can just drink them, no spoon required.

Fiore Mug with soupItalian ceramic coffee mugs

4. Savor sweets. Sometimes you just need a little ice cream in your life, but not a whole bowl. Feel less guilty by serving yourself a scoop in an Italian coffee mug. By filling a smaller container, you’ll feel like you’re actually eating more since the mug looks full (it’s an old trick for those trying to eat less; the same works for eating off of smaller plates). For true decadence, make an affogato. One scoop of vanilla ice cream in an Italian coffee mug plus one shot of espresso equals a delicious treat that leaves you feeling like you’re in Italy.

What else do you put in Italian coffee mugs or contemporary cups and saucers? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Affogato image courtesy of Ewan-M.

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Ready for Spring? Tips and Tricks to Fill Your Planters

The groundhog said that we’ll have an early spring this year… Given the blizzards and storms across the country, I think it’s about time for some good news! Spring doesn’t just mean warmer temperatures and a lack of snow (admittedly not something we worry much about here in San Francisco); it’s also a time to think about your garden and this year’s planting. Inspired by this article in the New York Times about Tovah Martin’s amazing houseplants (she has over 200 in her home), here are some tips for getting your 2013 garden started early and using fun accents like zig zag planters to banish winter blues in the meantime.

wall planter

  • Italian PlanterGo west! Sunlight exposure for plants can make a huge difference. In the winter, put your ceramic planters where they’ll get western light, not eastern.
  • Stay moisturized. Dry air is another enemy of indoor plants. A humidifier can keep even the most delicate blooms happy and healthy until it’s warm enough to put your favorites outside. Watering frequency is also key – every plant is different. Ferns love moisture while begonias and geraniums like to dry out before a thorough soaking. If leaves start to fall off, chances are you’ve let your plant dry out for too long.
  • Pick the right pots. I agree with Tovah that, “Even the most boring supermarket plant can look great, by giving it a smart pot.” Blue and white planters in a variety of patterns make for stylish arrangements indoors or out. Graphic additions like a zig zag planter or the intricate details of an Italian planter add another splash of color to your greenery or flowering plants, decorating your windows and indoor spaces now. Once things warm up, these ceramic planters move easily to the porch or patio, adding depth to your garden.zig zag planter
  • Acclimate before planting. This time of year you can plant bare root roses, fruit trees, and berry bushes directly in the ground (as long as it’s not frozen). But for other greenhouse-grown plants like a blooming primrose or winter pansy, you’ll need to get your new additions “hardened off” before putting them into their new outdoor homes, explains Marianne Binetti. This means sheltering plants on a porch or other protected area where they can adjust to the cool nights for a week or two. Then fill your window boxes, garden, or outdoor wall planters with some well-deserved color.
  • Be unexpected. If your bathroom gets good natural light, please humidity-loving orchids, aloes, and bromeliads while creating a lush mini-jungle. Colorful Talavera planters that match your décor pull the look together. Another idea? Train plants with vines or tendrils to create a natural curtain in a south-facing window.

Italian planterHow do you use zig zag planters? Have plans for your spring garden or favorite plants for wall planters? Leave a comment and let us know!Italian ceramic planter

Houseplant image courtesy of The Greenery Nursery.

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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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Contemporary Blue and White Ceramics with Mexican Flair

blue and white cups and saucersBlue and white is certainly one of the most classically chic color combinations. Think Wedgwood or the Hope Diamond. But classic doesn’t need to mean “stuffy.” Just take a look at blue and white ceramics by Mexican artists like Talavera Vazquez and Gorky Gonzalez. Blue and white mugs, planters, vases, bowls, pitchers, and lamps never looked so chic!

The Gogo collection by Gorky’s son is a great example of this contemporary treatment. These blue and white cups and saucers have modern sensibility without looking over-designed. The Gogo long platter and oval serving dish are other blue and white ceramics that bring some flair and fun to any meal or party.

Graphic executions of blue and white, like the chevron zig zags on Vazquez’s blue and white ginger jars, are another fusion of modern and tradition. Ginger jars are beautiful accents for the home, and these designs are definitely not stuck in the past.

blue and white ginger jar

blue and white vaseI particularly like the zig zag and stripes of blue and white ceramics for plants. Cheerful and eye-catching, it’s no wonder that these blue and white planters and vases are consistent bestsellers. I think they are a fabulous foil for greenery. For example, this blue and white striped vase is stunning whether filled with a bouquet or sitting empty on a shelf, while this smaller blue and white vase accents a counter or desktop beautifully.

More typical floral motifs get an updated feel by these Mexican artists as well. The playful borders on Gorky’s blue and white dinner plates mix and match with ease, complimenting serving trays and blue and white bowls. The blue and white salad bowl by Talavera Vazquez is the perfect backdrop for your greens (much like blue and white planters and vases, now that I think about it). Solid-colored pieces put the focus more on form, highlighting the modern shapes of these blue and white bowls and plates.blue and white ceramics

Mexican flair also comes with Vazquez’s blue and white lamp bases. Truly a fusion of design and function, these blue and white lamps add a modern decorative touch along with accent lighting. Use them as a reading lamp, flanking a bed, or simply another light source for your living room.blue and white lamp base

What are your favorite blue and white ceramics? What do you think about these contemporary twists on such a classic color combination? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Our Favorite Italian Ceramics, Patterns, and Pieces

Italian ceramics
I’m planning to go to Italy in the spring to look for new artists to add to the Emilia Ceramics collection. There are so many traditional patterns used to decorate Italian ceramics, from intricate Deruta patterns to the whimsical animals of Vietri dinnerware. Many of these motifs are nature-inspired, with fruits, flowers, and animals common for Italian majolica pottery.

Italian platters

Lemons, for example, are a widely used pattern. The bright yellow can be paired with deep cobalt blue backgrounds or creamy white, giving a very different look to the piece. Cheerful serving pieces are typical, like the blu limoni serving tray by the brothers at Ceramiche Bartoloni.

A totally different look, this oval serving platter is subtle, refined, and has a refreshing color pallet.

oval_due_limoni

Cherries are another of my favorite fruit motifs. Mixed with greenery, they enliven plates, mugs, and pitchers of various sizes. The deep red of the glaze is quite striking and gives an almost modern sensibility to this unusual pattern.

Of course, there’s no reason to stop at just one fruit. Mixed fruit patterns are another of my favorites for Italian ceramics. They add elegance to planters and platters alike with colorful peaches, pears, apples, quince, and grapes. I love using this mixed fruit platter as a centerpiece on a long table – it looks fabulous full of food or empty.

Tuscan Fruit Long Platter

new_rooster_bowl_2Roosters are another common motif I’m sure to find on my Italian travels. Invoking the countryside, Italian ceramic artists can’t seem to get enough of these feathered friends. Tuscia d’Arte’s playful blue rooster is almost comical, while Ceramiche Bartoloni’s roosters are more intricate and lifelike. The beautifully painted rooster salad bowl and rooster pitcher will add color and possibly some good luck to your kitchen.

There’s also istoriato ware, a style of Italian majolica that tells a story. Historically these were hand painted dinner plates that featured intricate central imagery of people (though not always) surrounded by a rich border. The style is still popular today, often for wall plates. Tuscia d’Arte’s harlequin plates are a variation on this tradition, as are the figures on Bartoloni’s ceramic canisters and jars.

What are your favorite Italian ceramics and Italian patterns? Have any suggestions for where I should visit when I’m in Italy looking for new ceramic artists? Love Deruta patterns or another Tuscan style dinnerware? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Warm Up Your Winter Garden with These Hot Outdoor Pots and Plants

Even though it’s January, there’s no reason for your garden to be neglected. Inspired by Sunset Magazine’s tips to refresh a winter garden, here are some ways to keep your garden looking chic all winter long with outdoor pots and more:

Change your color palette

Highlight white blooms and bright green leaves, perhaps with touches of purple or burgundy. If you don’t get snow in your area, this is a way to stay seasonal and fresh at the same time. Accent your white blooms with white cushions on patio furniture, giving the garden a serene look as it prepares for the colors of spring.

Get creative with greenery

Ferns are not the only answer to your greenery needs. Grasses are another hearty option, or try something interesting like this fiber optics plant in a zig zag ceramic planter. Coleus plants with their wide variety of colors and patterns are another creative greenery choice for your ceramic pots for plants indoors or out.

Accent your entryway

Nothing says welcome quite like a door flanked by pots and tall plants. Spiky or fountain-like shapes draw the eyes, particularly when in striking outdoor plant containers. Layer in low growing plants around the rim for a stacked effect that’s particularly eye-catching.

Bring plants inside

Fill your windowsills with greenery (particularly if you don’t have an outdoor garden of your own). Not only does this chase the winter blues away, you can also accent your home with chic black and white planters or cleverly designed small flower pots. Another idea: fill large flower pots indoors with white azaleas and hydrangeas forced into bloom; they look like delicate snowballs.

Group pots on a doorstep

Instead of a formal style door flanking, a small cluster of large and small flower pots dress up any porch or doorstep. A mix of patterns – zig zag planters, ceramic striped outdoor pots, and plain clay flower pots – filled with an interesting plants like purple kale and crimson ‘Fire Power’ nandina makes for a colorful homage to the season.

How do you warm up your winter garden? Have any tips for using outdoor pots or ceramic zig zag planters? Leave a comment and let us know!

Narcissus image courtesy of nosha.

Coleus image courtesy of Pharaoh Hound.

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Behind the Scenes: French Ceramics at Poterie Ravel

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.

The most recent addition to the Emilia Ceramics collection, Poterie Ravel has been around since 1837. A fifth-generation family-run business, this French ceramics studio was founded in Aubugne, France, and made tiles and other terracotta products for the home. When Gilbert Ravel took over the studio from his father in 1935, he changed the direction of the company to make planters that had more modern designs. The focus moved to high-end interior and landscape designers; the result is a world-class workshop full of ceramic artists that handle 8 tons of product a day, most of it creating their famous large-scale pots. The next time you see a giant terracotta planter at a major hotel, airport, or other public place, look and see if you can find the Poterie Ravel logo – chances are you’ll find one.

Today two sisters, Marion and Julie Ravel, run Poterie Ravel. Their ceramics are definitely art, a process that begins with the clay itself, which is extracted from their own quarries. Small pots are thrown entirely by hand (including all the French ceramics in my collection), while the massive planters are molded by a ceramic artist using a plaster mold and a piece of wood. All the pieces big and small are finished by hand for a smooth surface and the terracotta pieces left unglazed. Other pieces, like the unique pitcher vases, platters, and serving bowls, are hand painted in vibrant natural glazes before being fired in one of their four gas ovens.

About 20 ceramic artists work at Poterie Ravel, including Etienne (pictured below) and Gil, who I met on my last buying trip to France.

One of my favorite parts about Ravel’s French ceramics is that every piece is stamped with the Ravel logo, date, and initials of the artist. After I had made my selections of these French ceramics, I found out that Etienne had made some of the platters, Gil some of the pitchers. I love how each piece tells a story; this kind of personal connection is definitely one of my favorite parts of working with local ceramic artists.

Poterie Ravel is one of the oldest ceramic studios in France, and the attention to detail is truly incredible. Anyone looking for centerpiece ideas needs look no further than one of their unique bowls or statement-making pitchers and vases. It took me four years to be able to offer their French ceramics as part of the Emilia Ceramics collection and I think it was certainly worth the wait!

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Behind the Scenes: Tuscan Pottery at Its Best

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.

It has been way too long since I last visited Italy! I LOVE Italy… the food (every pasta dish is cooked perfectly), the wine (even the house bottle is always delicious), the cappuccinos (consistently 10 times better than anything Starbucks can do), the people (so friendly, so open, so Italian), and of course the ceramics. It’s no surprise that some of the most beautiful, colorful, and high quality ceramics come from Italy… it was 13th century Italian artists, after all, that transformed the tradition of Majolica into the high art form we know today. From relaxed fruit and floral motifs to precise depictions of renaissance characters, fine Italian ceramics continue to set the standard for the craft the world over.

Five years ago when I went on my first buying trip to Italy, I had the good fortune of visiting two of the best workshops in Tuscany: Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia and Ceramiche Bartoloni, both of which are located in Montelupo Fiorentino, a small town right outside Florence that is famous for Majolica. I learned of both artists from my uncle, Gifford Myers, who’s a ceramicist in Los Angeles and has collaborated with many Italian artists over the years. Gifford insisted that Tuscia and Bartoloni were the best in Tuscany and would be friendly, fun partners for me to work with. He was so right!

On my first visit, I took the train from Florence to Montelupo and was met by David, who runs Tuscia. David brought me to the warehouse where 3 of 5 local artists were painting that day. 

Gabriel (seen painting above) started working with ceramics when he was 15 years old and is now the principal artist at Tuscia. He is responsible for designing and executing the most intricate designs, such as my favorite, the Square Plate with Oranges.

David gave me the grand tour of the workshop, which was packed with beautifully crafted and painted platters, pitchers, lamps, and planters. It was like a museum, showcasing all the styles, sizes, and designs they’ve created over the years. I took a ton of photos, which I still reference when I’m placing a new order.

Founded in 1982, the Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia building has an old, slightly warn-down charm — it is so picturesque set amidst the rolling Tuscan hills. Patrizio Bartoloni (on the left below) met me at Tuscia and drove me to the Ceramiche Bartoloni workshop, where he and his brother Stefano run their business. While slightly smaller in scale than Tuscia, Ceramiche Bartoloni is larger than life when it comes to the vibrancy of their glazes, the delicacy in their designs, and the pure personality they put into each ceramic piece. Their sophisticated Italian style is clearly evident in the Limoni, Blu Limoni, and Rooster pieces, which have always been favorites among Emilia Ceramics customers.

Patrizio and Stefano started their business when they were 18 and 20 years old, respectively. At the time, their “studio” was a wood shed with a dirt floor in Capraia, a tiny village bordering Montelupo. When they outgrew that space, they moved to their current workshop in Montelupo, about 10 miles outside of Florence.

Patrizio is more of the flamboyant painter and Stefano does more of the intricate designs and lettering. My uncle met them in 1987 in their “studio” in Capraia and has been friends with them ever since. He nicknamed them the “Blues Brothers,” which they think is really funny.

In my opinion, small Italian workshops like Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia and Ceramiche Bartoloni represent the best Italian ceramics and Tuscan pottery has to offer. In these close-knit, family-run studios, artists are not just reproducing traditional ceramic pieces; they are creating their own unique artwork in a style that their ancestors have spent 600 years perfecting.

I am thrilled to be returning to Italy this coming spring — partially because I miss the great pasta, wine, and cappuccinos so much — but mostly to immerse myself in the originality, vibrancy, and colorful creativity that personify fine Italian ceramics. I’ll visit Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia and the Bartoloni brothers, hopefully discovering some new and hidden gems to add to the Tuscan pottery in my collection. But I will also seek out new, undiscovered Italian artists in other parts of the country. My hope is to diversify the Emilia Ceramics collection over time, adding the unique abilities and cultural influences of artists from Umbria, Sicily, and the Amalfi Coast. What are your favorite Italian ceramics and where do they originate? Leave us a comment below and let us know!

                   

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Customer Spotlight: Your Favorite Uses for Serving Trays

I know my favorite ways to use Italian blue and white ceramics (like a blue and white mug for my morning coffee), but it’s always great to hear from customers about ways they use ceramics in their daily lives. Recently people have let me know about the ways they entertain with their favorite pieces, from square serving trays to blue and white ceramic bowls, so I wanted to share some of their stories with you.

At the Brown house, family dinner often involves a mix of ceramics. They mix and match serving trays from Gorky Gonzalez for mains and sides (and dinner in this photo certainly looks delicious!). The rounded shape of this rectangular serving platter makes it perfect for vegetables or desserts alike while the sloped sides of the oval serving dish keep sauces nicely contained for your main course. Even with different designs, the blue and white ties these serving trays together for a stylish meal everyday.

“Sometimes bigger really is better,” Michael wrote about his fish platter by Richard Esteban. He went on to say that this oval serving tray “is great for summer salads when I have people over for a barbeque.” I think this salad looks super delicious with the one-of-a-kind decoration around the edge. Other large trays, like this unusually shaped mustard yellow serving tray by Poterie Ravel, are ideal for handling the fixings for burgers, tacos, or other customizable meals.

On Facebook, Sarah told her secret for throwing a great party: “a beautiful Italian platter with yummy cheese and crackers.” This technique works well for a wine and cheese party, casual get together, or special occasion like a birthday, anniversary or engagement celebration. Square serving trays by Ceramiche Bartoloni with their cheerful lemons or Italian blue and white ceramics decorated with fruit motifs are great ways to use Sarah’s tip. Compliment your cheese and crackers with Italian blue and white ceramic bowls like this one with cheerful lemons.

Many thanks to all of you who have written in about how you use your ceramics and posted pictures on Facebook. Want to share your favorite uses for rectangular serving platters, Italian blue and white ceramics, or salad bowls? Simply leave a comment below!

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Using Ceramic Planters for Curb Appeal and More

What are your favorite ceramic planters like? Round or rectangular? Deep or shallow? Do you keep the same plants in them year round or switch out annuals for an ever-changing display? Are your planters indoor or outdoor? Large or small? Just like any other home accent piece, there are pottery planters out there to fit every style and planting need. In fact, there are so many choices that it can be easy to get overwhelmed – do you want a zig zag planter or striped planter? Planters that are big enough for an entire miniature garden or just one plant? Sometimes it’s hard to know where exactly to begin.

With the coming of fall, planters are a way to keep plants growing just a little longer or even throughout the winter, depending on how hardy they are. Whether or not in ceramic planters, there are many plants and flowers that thrive during the autumn months. Verbena will continue to flower even after a frost, sage and lambs ear make great centerpieces of a mixed planter, and decorative cabbage are totally stylish with their greens, pinks, and purples. An arrangement of pottery planters on your porch filled with flowers or greenery definitely adds a warming touch to any home, amping up its curb appeal.

Last fall I was traveling in France and remember being amazed by all the ceramic planters I saw in both city and countryside. A building with cascading flowers at every window seems so much more inviting than one that’s just plain and stark. Poterie Ravel, my newest French artist, is famous for their large planters in ceramic, some plain terracotta and others glazed.

The wall planters by Richard Esteban echo this French country aesthetic; I love the exposed clay and how it contrasts with the glazed body of these planters. They look fantastic filled with ivy or other cascading plants on the wall of a porch or patio.

If French country isn’t to your taste, try the graphic appeal of a zig zag planter with bold lines in black and white. Check out this fall plant combination, which would look stunning in the round zig zag planter by Talavera Vazquez. The striped ceramic planters are another variation with a modern feel perfect for your favorite fall blooms.

Of course, ceramic planters are ideal for indoor greenery as well. A kitchen herb garden fits nicely into an oval planter like this one with blue and white stripes; other pottery planters house ferns, orchids, and other plants year round.

Whether indoors or out, what are your favorite ceramic planters? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Entertaining with Originality

Last weekend I went to Portland to visit some good friends who were actually among the first of the couples to register with Emilia Ceramics about 4 years ago. They have a beautiful house full of all sorts of unique touches, including an extensive collection of Emilia Ceramics. Upon entering the house, you’re immediately greeted by 3 such statement pieces: A colorful zigzag ginger jar by Talavera Vazquez, a one-of-a-kind vase by Capelo (stay tuned, I’m about to receive the Capelo pieces I hand-picked while visiting Mexico in June), and a sophisticated planter by Tuscia. Of course I felt right at home in the midst of all this beautiful ceramics… but the best part was seeing how my friends have made these pieces their own by incorporating them into their charming home.

The night I arrived, my friends prepared a beautiful dinner for us, including chips and salsa (served in the las flores serving dish and dip bowl) and a delicious gazpacho, which we ate in blue and white mugs, by Ceramiche Bartoloni.

The relaxed blue and white pattern on these Italian mugs was the perfect compliment for the bright orange soup. The main course was slow-roasted pork tacos, which were absolutely delicious. In fact, they were so good all the guests wanted the recipe. Turns out, it’s from an amazing blog I’ve just now discovered, The Amateur Gourmet. You have got to try these tacos… and I can personally attest to the fact that they look and taste their best when served on Emilia Ceramics!

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New Arrivals of Old Friends: Ceramic ZigZag Planters Have Returned!

There’s nothing better than getting a shipment of ceramics from one of our artists. I always feel like a kid on Christmas when the boxes arrive and pieces need to be unwrapped and sorted. While it’s great to see the new pieces (like the gray and yellow zig zag tibors), it’s also lovely to replenish my stock of sold out ceramics like the zig zag planters by Talavera Vazquez.

But why is it that ceramic pots for plants remain such constant top sellers? Marla Hart at Studio City Patch explains it neatly in admitting to her addiction to outdoor pots. I think she’s right when gushing about how easy ceramic pots for plants make gardening: you can have a single large flower pot or a whole yard’s worth, whatever your green thumb desires (and can handle). Groupings of small flower pots on a porch or patio add interest and color; large flower pots can even accommodate small trees and bushes that you can later move if you decide to change your landscaping.

Outdoor plant containers are also a good idea for drought conditions like many people are experiencing across the country this summer. You can carefully monitor the dryness of the soil and water your plants without waste; ceramic pots for plants that are glazed in white or other light colors help reflect the sun’s rays and keep those roots from crisping. Because outdoor pots can be easily moved, it also means you can keep delicate plants in the shade during heat waves.

The ceramic zig zag planters are a fun way to keep your plants looking good; either plant directly inside (there’s a hole for drainage) or use these pots to hold another, smaller terracotta pot. The fluting at the top of these zig zag planters makes them perfect for ferns, spider plants, and flowers that like to spill over the sides.

The new sunflower planter also from Vazquez has the same shape; I think this large flower pot looks splendid filled or empty. Other new arrivals include the small flower pot with polka dots and another ceramic pot in lime green by Richard Esteban. Both of these planters are one of a kind and would look great in a window indoors or outdoors.

Richard Esteban’s clay flower pots with exposed bases are another way to add French provincial charm to your favorite plants. Of course, there are still the large flower pots with stripes by Vazquez and wonderful large flower pots with fruit motifs from Tuscia d’Arte.

With all the planters I now have on hand, I keep thinking about expanding my own gardening efforts. I might be on my way to becoming addicted to outdoor plant containers and flower pots myself!

Shop our entire selection of planters here. 

 

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Summertime Zig Zag Pattern Love

There’s something very summery about the zig zag, especially blue and white zig zags, which remind me of the ocean (like waves) and Mexico itself (where it always feels like summer). While I was visiting Talavera Vazquez recently, I couldn’t help noticing all the zig zags: From tall vases to pieces destined to become ceramic table lamps, chevrons are one of their favorite patterns to paint… And I couldn’t be happier. So in addition to all the other fun patterns and designs I couldn’t resist, I added even more blue and white, orange and white, as well as black and white zig zag ginger jars to my stock! Perhaps it’s because Talavera Vazquez was my last stop in Mexico, but I still can’t seem to get their creative zig zags out of my head!

The classic and popular large blue and white ginger jars are an obviously place to start. With the addition of extra large blue and white ginger jars that measure 21 inches tall, these are statement pieces that work well indoors or outdoors. The artists at Talavera Vazquez make even taller ginger jars, which are truly massive (not to mention heavy). Customers regularly buy black and white zig zag jars, and I think it’s because the clean lines and bold pattern make them elegantly modern.

These ginger jars (or tibores in Spanish) are so popular that I started working with the artists to turn them into ceramic table lamps a few years ago. The blue and white lamp (whether stripe or zig zag) sheds light beautifully next to a bed or as a living room accent. One of my personal favorites is the burnt orange and white zig zag pattern lamp. The contemporary color adds warmth (along with the glow of the light itself) to any space, large or small.

But while blue and white ginger jars and lamps are popular, I think zig zags add something unexpected to plants. From tall vases with stunning blooms to a playful planter, these bright and bold ceramics are great indoor accents. Looking at all the vases in the studio, it’s difficult to narrow in on the ideal blue vase. There’s the blue striped vase and the intricately patterned blue and white Cristina vase, both with graceful curves. Another tall vase is the narrow Paloma, a blue vase with slim elegance. All of these look fantastic filled with flowers or empty on a shelf or table, no matter the season. I’ve given up trying to choose the perfect one, enjoying the personality of each.

With planters, the round zig zag pattern has returned, along with a charming sunflower pattern, stripes, and other geometric patterns. Drainage holes ensure function, not just fun with these planters, giving your porch, window, patio, or garden a special kick this summer. Why not make your plants as fashionable as you are?

What zig zag pattern uses are your favorites? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Decorative Pottery for Your May Flowers: More than Just French Ceramics

The saying goes that “April showers bring May flowers,” and with this year’s especially wet spring, the flowers are blooming with abandon! With all that’s growing, it’s the perfect time to get decorative with some flower pots, ceramic planters, and other stylish containment for your favorite blooms. Annie Selke recently tweeted about kicking your spring garden decor up a notch with great planters and I couldn’t agree more. To add to the excitement, the ever-popular Mexican planters by Talavera Vazquez are back in stock. Here are some easy ways to inject decorative pottery style into your home and garden:

Be square.

Just like unusually-shaped plates, a square planter can add a touch of unexpected style. The square hidalgo planter (pictured here on my sister’s patio) is a great example. Black and white, it’s chic and festive at the same time. Besides the square hidalgo planter, striped or zigzag planters are other fun options. Squares don’t have to be big either – this small rustic green planter by Richard Esteban is perfect for a desk, countertop, or perched on a window ledge.

Be French.

French ceramics can transport you to Provence in an instant… And for me, nothing feels as French as ceramic hanging planters, which add green to any wall or lattice and create a stunning outdoor area. This hanging planter with polka dots and squiggles is a fabulous example of decorative French pottery that’s also functional. It reminds me of a party lantern (and who can resist a party?).

I also love the new wall planters by Richard Esteban that I picked out while in Provence last September. Totally rustic and understated, with raw glaze peaking out from under soft, touchable glazes, they don’t compete with beautiful flowers, but add to them. See all three color choices here: Wall Planters.

Be layered.

Raised beds add dimension to any size garden, but why stop there? Use clay flower pots to move plants to unexpected places (and help preserve delicate blooms from the cold when fall comes). Mixing flower pots into beds can be a fun way to use ceramic planters, adding a splash of color that compliments what’s growing inside. I love this large sunflower planter because it adds vibrant Mexican color to the garden or patio. Don’t have a garden or large yard? Cluster different sized pots right next to each other to create a garden of any size, no matter how small.

Be innovative.

Garden décor isn’t just about black and white zigzag planters or ceramic flower pots. Chairs, tables, stepping stones, borders, and other accessories make a huge difference to the space. Lay out paving stones in a spiral to create a unique patio area. Create a wall of succulents if you don’t have any yard to work with. Turn that giant tree stump into a small flower garden. With all the creative ways to use outdoor space, you can make the outside of your home just as special as the inside.
Succulent wall

Have creative gardening ideas or uses for decorative pottery when it comes to plants? Leave a comment and let us know!

Succulent wall image courtesy of Jzawdubya.

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6 Tips for Ceramic Planters this Spring

Spring’s just around the corner and that makes me want to plant some flowers. I love my kitchen garden of herb pots inside, but this time of year, the outdoors beckon. Maybe some large flower pots or outdoor plant containers are in my future. Ceramic planters remain my mainstay when it comes to flower pots and I’m definitely not alone. Here are some tips I’ve gleaned on how to use everything from zig zag planters to outdoor pots to make a great garden anywhere.

  1. Size matters. Small plants work well in small flower pots, but think about growth when deciding what goes where. Roots need enough space to expand or else your plants will become pot-bound and unhappy. Curiously, small flower pots are the perfect choice for orchids – their roots like the restricted space because it mimics their natural environment. This square planter in rustic green is the perfect size for an orchid. Large flower pots on the other hand, can be great for miniature gardens, multiple plants, even small trees or shrubs.
  2. Drainage counts. Along with size, drainage is another factor to keep in mind when choosing ceramic planters. The best options have a hole or two for drainage. Otherwise add a layer of gravel or rocks to prevent roots from staying too wet. Another trick is to hide clay flower pots within ceramic planters, making them easy to remove for watering.
  3. Think about seasons. Try bringing in outdoor pots during cold months to prevent them from freezing, especially if your winters are harsh. Ceramic pots for plants also allow you to move your garden around into shade or sun during growing seasons for the best light.
  4. Style works outside too. Love chevrons? Find zig zag planters for your favorite blooms. Is blue and white your favorite color combination? Indoor or outdoor pots give your greenery a stylish home. I consider ceramic planters yet another opportunity to inject some personality into your environment, whether it’s a patio or kitchen window.
  5. Choose ceramic planters. Clay flower pots keep soil moist longer, so if you forget to water a day or two it’s not the end of the world. The sturdiness of ceramic planters also ensures they won’t tip over easily. Ceramic planters also let you make attractive clusters of plants along flowerbeds, patio sides, or garden paths. Pleasing on the eyes and pleasing for your plants – it’s definitely a win-win.
  6. Go up. Don’t forget to use vertical space with hanging and wall planters, other great choices for outdoor plant containers. From doors to lattice work, these colorful additions brighten any type of outdoor space.

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Why Buy Ceramics for Valentine’s Day?

My Love Comes Bearing GiftsI’ve been thinking about Valentine’s Day recently (as those of you who get the newsletter already know). If you have a special someone to celebrate it with, it’s time to come up with a plan. It’s probably one of the worst times to try and go out to eat (reservations fill up fast and set menus don’t usually showcase a restaurant’s best dishes). Roses are cliché, the same goes for chocolates. But what about buying ceramics online for your sweetheart?

Think about it. Ceramics are durable (just like your love). They’re timeless (just like your love). They look good for years and can be used as a daily reminder of your love, whether simple coffee mugs or an elaborately-decorated vase. Of course, when you buy ceramics online, you’ll have many options – here are some ideas to help you decide what’s right for your Valentine’s Day gift:

Seeing Red: Valentine’s day is full of red and pink. If your sweetie loves those colors, bonus! Red ceramic platters, mugs, and bowls are just some ceramics to buy that fit personal tastes and the holiday. I think red’s cheerful year-round, but if it’s not a favorite, think about classic blue and white, warm yellows, or even rich greens. A gift that reflects personal taste is always best, no matter the occasion. From clean, graphic ceramics to rich Tuscan and French country pieces, there’s something for everyone.

Shipping: When you buy ceramics online, check out the shipping policy before shopping around. Is there an express option to get your gift delivered before February 14? What’s the policy on breakage? With a week to go, most places should be able to deliver your gift with a day to spare.

Special Touches: Traditional gifts are sweet, don’t get me wrong. But why not add something a little extra? A vase with a note saying “For all the flower bouquets to come” sets up a year-long romantic gesture that’s sure to be appreciated. For wine lovers, this black and white striped wine bottle holder would work well with a bottle of Lucky Night wine by Swanson Vineyards. Love someone who loves coffee or tea? Find the perfect ceramic mug for their daily cup along with some of their preferred brew. The Gran Taza ensures they have enough for the morning at home or the office.

      

When Size Matters: Good things come in both big and small packages. When choosing ceramics to buy, think about your sweetheart’s space and preferences. A statement vase might be beautiful, but take up too much space on a small shelf. If space isn’t an issue, try a bold planter for the window or patio. Even better, complete this gift with a flowering plant, so your Valentine can enjoy flowers long after February 14th.

Pink package image courtesy of Vincent van der Pas.

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Polka Dots: A Trend to Love

I love polka dots!

Polka dots continue to wow us, both in fashion and home décor. Cheerful and fun, large and small, you can find polka dot mugs, dresses, wallpapers, French ceramics and just about any accessory you can think of. I even saw some polka dot sunglasses the other day.

While sporting polka dots is the trend this winter, it’s important to use moderation, says chicology. Instead of an entire ensemble, use polka dots as a fun accent: a skirt, a hat, even a chic scarf or umbrella. Perhaps it was the overkill of polka dots that lead to chatter about Rihanna’s new video looking a little too much like photographer Sølve Sundsbø’s work. Dappled in dots, the star is striking, but so are the photos from a 2008 editorial shoot Sundsbø did for Numero, as the side-by-side comparison on Fashionista points out. Just goes to show that you can still get creative with polka dots (and the value of giving credit where credit is due).

Home décor is another area where polka dots shine, from kitchen wares to furniture. French ceramics by artists like Richard Esteban are playful with their bold polka dots. The polka dot mugs, bowls, ceramic serving platters, plates, pitchers, and hanging planters make it easy to add a splash of polka dots to your décor without going too overboard.

But why be subtle? The bold patterning of polka dot wallpaper can really turn a room into a statement, says Decorators Best. Try a simple two-color print, or you can get more crazy with multicolor dots on a plain background (great for a kid’s room). Graphic black and white polka dots look modern, while a subtle grey and white adds just a hint of texture and sophistication. Generally there’s something simple and sweet about polka dots on textiles that keeps it fun no matter what.

My favorite place to see polka dots remains the kitchen. Lighthearted polka dot mugs or coffee bowls are a great way to start any day, whether it’s with your favorite hot beverage or cereal. The butter yellow ceramic serving platter with multicolored dots dresses up any party. And the new midnight polka dot pitcher is a real knock-out. With the whimsy of these French ceramics, it’s easy to make every day just a little brighter.

Polka dot image courtesy of {AndreaRenee}.

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New Year, New Growth in Ceramic Flower Pots

morning in the garden . . .Happy New Year! It’s the time of year we make optimistic resolutions, invest in new gym memberships and generally pursue good intentions for at least 6 weeks until old habits kick in. Change is good, of course, but drastic and dramatic changes in our daily routine are hard to sustain. So how to make 2012 get off to a fresh start that will actually last past February (and doesn’t involve the gym every 12 hours)?

Changing our environment is a great way to make a sustained impact this year. So think green. Literally. With ceramic flower pots and beautiful plants you can instantly alter your environment, bringing lush vibrancy to any room in the home or even brighten up the office. Decorative pottery is always an easy way to change the tone of a space, so add plants to the mix for a more dynamic personal touch.

If you don’t have a green thumb, don’t worry. “Greenifying” your home doesn’t require extensive gardening knowledge. Start maybe with some bulbs in ceramic flower pots – buy them at your favorite florist while they’re blooming and stick the whole pot into a piece of decorative pottery (like the round Paloma planter).

There are lots of hardy ferns and vines that only need minimal watering and look fantastic in the square hidalgo planter. The black and white is incredibly striking with green.

Succulents are another low-maintenance way to fill ceramic flower pots. An oval planter, round ceramic flower pot, or rectangle shape fits several different plants, creating a miniature garden with cacti, air-plants, aloe, and other curious shapes with names too long for me to remember. I love the air-plants at Paxton Gate here in San Francisco, they can go anywhere from wall to centerpiece.

Plants help filter the air and are cited in studies for everything from helping with fatigue to making people feel happy and focused. If you work in an office, hang this great ceramic planter by Richard Esteban on your cubical or office wall with a cascading vine or lush fern. Or add the square hidalgo planter to a corner of your desk. If your bathroom gets enough light, add a small ceramic flower pot or two there as well for a bit of color in an often lifeless space. Orchids thrive in the humid environment your showers create, making them easy to care for.

No matter what you fill your ceramic flower pots with, here’s to a happy, thriving, and green new year for all!

Plant image courtesy of hortulus.

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Blog Round Up: Planters


Green thumbs unite! Ceramic planters are a favorite with so many gardeners and it’s easy to see why. Planters made from earthenware (aka ceramic planters) keep soil moist longer — perfect for those of us who forget to water. And they provide a sturdy base for our favorite plants, from ferns to flowers to vegetables. At Emilia Ceramics, we love ceramic planters for their decorative flair as well. But we’re not the only ones… Let’s check out why people love ceramic planters in 2011, for our last blog round up of the year.

Fresh American loves planters with style, indoor and out. Whether a zig zag planter or a huge cube for small shrubs and trees, it’s important to match your planter to its contents. Check to make sure there’s enough space for adequate roots when choosing a ceramic planter. It’s best to find a ceramic planter with a hole for drainage, but you can always add a layer of rocks or gravel to keep your roots from getting too wet. Other planter ideas range from DIY to statement pieces for your patio, porch, or even living room and kitchen.

Of course, you don’t have to use a zig zag planter for just plants. The Jet Set Gypsy thinks the oval striped planter pictured above would look great filled with limes for margarita making and I tend to agree. Ceramic planters are perfect places for fruits, mail, or even stylish office supply storage on a desk.

Of course, fun patterns are one of the reasons to love handmade ceramic planters. This Designers Palette loves chevron ginger jars, but I can see a similar design statement with a wonderfully graphic planter. Want something a little more warm or organic? This rustic Italian ceramic planter, like many others by Ceramiche Bartoloni, is gorgeous for either starting out seedlings or housing daffodils and other favorite flowers.

Let’s not forget wall planters either. For trailing vines or a decorative display of seasonal flowers, hanging ceramic planters are another colorful way to create a garden inside and out. Blue and white, polka dot, or multicolored planters make any wall space instantly more green in the summer and add interest during dreary winters.

It’s been an especially popular year for zig zag planters; In fact, at Emilia Ceramics we’ve recently sold out — who knew zig zag planters would be such popular gifts this holiday season?! More are on the way, but with stripes, prints, polka dots, fruits, and other motifs for ceramic planters, it’s easy to find one that matches your style as we transition from 2011 to 2012.

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Need a Great Gift Idea? Try Red Plates and Platters!

it's raining presents
I’ve been getting the pop-up shop ready for holiday hustle and bustle, so gift giving has definitely been on my mind. I know that holiday entertaining is another key part of December, but gifts are sometimes harder to plan and execute. Who are the people on your list that are hard to buy for? A boss, coworker, child’s teacher, or your in-laws perhaps. Every year I see people solving these and other tricky gifting dilemmas with handmade ceramics, often paired with thoughtful accessories aimed to please. Top favorites? Plates, ceramic serving platters, and serving dishes.

Here are my top tips for plate gifts from red plates to ceramic serving platters– I hope they’ll inspire your giving this month!

  • Host a cookie swap. This holiday party trend is so smart – everyone makes their favorite cookies then meet to exchange the results, going home with a vast array of homemade treats in the end to eat or give to others. Have guests bring along recipe cards (or gather them electronically) and provide other snacks and drinks so that you don’t overload on sugar. A red plate like this modern serving platter by Gorky Gonzalez strikes the perfect festive note for your favorite treats. Or give a red plate as a gift with a delicious cookie array on it to inspire future delicious use.

  • Sweet like candy. Of course, cookies aren’t the only sweet ofWould you like some fudge? choice. Candies, whether homemade or from your favorite confectioner, are another go-to gift that are sure to please anyone with a sweet tooth. For a great boss gift, load up this long red platter with fudge or another favorite sweet and wrap it in clear plastic with a festive bow. The result can be kept on the desk to share with others or taken home, using the functional ceramic serving platter for future entertaining.
  • Growing gifts. Does your mother-in-law like to garden? Give her seed packets on a stack of salad plates so that she can grow her own salad in the summer months. Planters are another good choice for those who love to garden indoors or out, perhaps given with a beautiful potted plant or flower.
  • Simple pampering. Soaps, lotions, body wash, and other such items can be perfect presents for friends. Save body products from being mundane by giving them on a long serving platter. The blue and white looks great in the kitchen or bathroom and gives your gift a more personal touch.

  • Favorite snacks. Plates are used for eating, so load up ceramic serving platters with delicious foods. Items that keep like jam and jelly are always a good bet, or try cheese (I love Cowgirl Creamery‘s selection) and salumi from Boccalone. This can be an excellent combination of hostess gift and party contribution that is sure to please.

Falling gifts image courtesy of Harsh Patel.

Fudge image courtesy of Jolene Van Laar.

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Find Your Personal Planter Style

When it comes to choosing a planter, the options are as varied as the plants that could go inside them. From tiny pots perfect for seedlings to mega decorative statement pieces, planters are the ultimate garden accessory. While I personally love the elegance of Italian ceramic planters, there are planter options to fit any home and style. With some thought, you can use planters to highlight a formal garden, green up your patio, or bring some foliage into your home with pizzazz. Will it be an oval ceramic planter or a huge teak vessel? Here are some ideas to help you find the perfect planter for you!

DIY: Crafty or like to add your own personal touch when you plant? You can make planters from a variety of materials from shoes to hanging gloves like this wall garden I photographed at an outdoor bar in Portland, Oregon. Just make sure there’s a way to drain so your roots don’t get too soggy! I like these other ideas that include casting your own forms using baskets or mixing bowls, writing herb names on pots, and stacking pots to create height and visual interest to a garden.

Movable & Flexible: Looking to create a small pot garden on your deck or in your kitchen window? Smaller planters are ideal. I like the style that Italian ceramic planters bring to any space, adding a touch of color to compliment your greenery. Arrange small blue and white Italian planters in a row along a bookcase or windowsill full of flowers, ferns, or even herbs. It’s easy to find Italian or other ceramic planters that fit your décor and aren’t too bulky.

Statement pieces: Need something for a small tree or as a visual anchor for a front porch? Larger planters, like those featured on the Elle Decor website, are perfect for providing a structural and functional touch. Urn shapes are great for fountains of flowers, while box forms are perfect for upright topiaries or grasses. Rustic elements like weathered wood, stone, or galvanized metal make these planters champions for staying outdoors year-round, particularly on a deck or by a pool.

Ceramic: Need a planter that’s versatile and stylish? Ceramic is definitely the most flexible material, with round, square, or oval ceramic planters in any size imaginable. I love this blue and white oval ceramic planter from Talavera Vázquez to hide smaller pots. And the Treccia Cafaggiolo Planter by Tuscia d’Arte lends a sophisticated, yet modern look to any room in the house. The finished look for a glazed Mexican, French, or Italian ceramic planter also helps keep plants moist and happy, giving them an edge over plain terracotta.

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Happy Fall Decorating!

I love the fall… from the crisp weather and changing leaves, to the excuse to pull out my favorite wool sweaters and boots. It’s also the start of party season, which means decorating for the upcoming holidays. I am drawn to rustic, nature-inspired decorations around Halloween and Thanksgiving, like gourds, wreaths, and white candles. And of course I love the subtle, yet rich look of hand painted Italian ceramics. The deep red and gold glazes are perfect for holiday entertaining. Here are some more style ideas for the fall…

Autumn motifs often include harvest foods (like gourds, corn, and berries), leaves, pine cones, and nuts. I’ve seen these in everything from door wreaths to window decorations and table centerpieces. Pumpkin-shaped bowls and other accessories come out as well as ceramic roosters, chickens and turkeys. I enjoy adding small seasonal touches to the table, like a charming set of rooster salt and pepper shakers. They also make great hostess gifts this time of year!

Inside the home, you have lots of decorating options, depending on how crafty you want to get and how much of a statement you want to make. I found a few fun ideas on Kevin Sharkley’s Home Design Blog: Wrap votive holders in dried corn husks to make for a elegant accent on the table or elsewhere. I loved this lamp which is made from a giant gourd! Along the same line of decorating with a sense of humor is this fun blue and white ceramic rooster. While not meant to be seasonal, it makes an especially strong statement this time of year.

For exterior decorating, a wreath made of cornhusks, dried leaves, or fresh bittersweet makes a great statement. These can stay up longer than something that’s obviously just for Halloween or Christmas. Also, fill your planters with potted mums or pansies to add color to your porch or patio in the cold months ahead. I’m a sucker for the simple beauty of potted Paper White bulbs.

The warm tones of fall colors (red, amber, gold, and orange) bring an instant festiveness to the kitchen and dining room. When it comes to table settings, Italian ceramic roosters are perfect, both in motif and color. From serving bowls, plates and mugs, to rooster salt and pepper shakers, these seasonal decorations are the perfect touch for a fall table. I love using this ceramic rooster pitcher to serve water or display fresh flowers. Leaf trivets, napkins, and a special table cloth are other ways to bring the season into your home.

  

Whether you like big statement pieces or subtle touches around the home, here’s to enjoying fall and its bounty of decorating possibilities.

Gourd image courtesy of David Goehring.

Fall wreath image courtesy of Cast a Line.