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Gift Ideas for Celebrating The Special Women in Your Life

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

Outdoor Enthusiast

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

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

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

Crunched for Time

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

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

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

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

Dinner Party Host

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

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

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

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Valentine’s Gifts to Suit Your Loved One’s Passion

The holiday of love is almost upon us and you might be expecting the usual flowers, chocolates or jewelry again this year. Or, perhaps you and your significant other decided to forego material gifts this year in favor of quality time with one another. If that isn’t the case, and you’re hoping to receive something unique this Valentine’s Day, consider finding a way to slip a link to this post to your loved one. Here at Emilia Ceramics, we’d like to see your love celebrated with the gift of a ceramic treasure from one of our talented artists.

Below, we showcase a few such ideas, characterized by a specific passion your partner might recognize in you.

For the Wine Enthusiast

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Vino Cups by Ceramica Valenciana (Valencia, Spain)

The wine loving woman in your life appreciates nice things and just another bottle of good wine isn’t special enough for this occasion. Luckily, we have many gift options for the vino-inclined. A classic is this Black Striped Wine Bottle Holder by Talavera Vazquez. If she’s drawn to old-world design, she might appreciate the Antique Vino Pitcher… Or for a more irreverent oenophile, these Vino Cups by Ceramica Valenciana are pure fun. If she has everything a wine drinker already needs and then some, a fun add on to a quality bottle of her favorite wine would be any of our wine stoppers, like this Fiore Wine Cork by Ceramiche D’Arte Tuscia in Montelupo Florentino, Italy.

For more ideas, check out all our Wine Accessories or our special gift-giving section for Wine Enthusiasts.

For the Creative Chef

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White Footed Serving Dish by Ceramica Valenciana (Valencia, Spain)

When gifting your loved one who loves to spend time in the kitchen, you can’t go wrong with serving ware or table accessories. A few of my favorites for anyone who loves to be creative when cooking: the Cherry
Spoon Rest
, by Ceramiche D’Arte Tuscia; the Burnt Honey Etched Trivet by artist, Richard Esteban from Aigues-Vives, France; and this timeless White Footed Serving Dish by Ceramica Valenciana.

To see more, shop Serving Dishes >>

For the Dessert Lover

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Gogo Square Plates by Gorky Gonzalez (Guanajuato, Mexico)

If your partner has a certain affinity for the “sweeter” things in life, give her a gift that will help her bake or serve her favorite dessert. Small appetizer dishes are perfect for dishing up chocolate truffles or petit fours. Especially for a more delicate or intricate dessert, small plates that offer a blank canvas are best, such as the Gogo Square Plates in five fun colors. For a light-hearted dessert lover, the Wildflower Bouquet Cookie Plate is a great idea, as are any of the small pieces created by French artist, Sylvie Duriez. As a compliment to any of these, think about coffee drinking accouterment, such as this San Miguel Mini Creamer and the San Miguel Sugar Bowl.

For more dessert-friendly gift ideas, check out our Footed Platters and Bowls, (great for displaying cakes, cookies, brownies, and cupcakes) or our collection of Appetizer and Mini Plates.

Beyond just gift ideas, my advice is to always think outside the box when shopping for that special someone. Try to picture yourself, as them, doing something they love to spend time doing and get creative from that perspective. And remember, provided your gift is picked out with the intent of wanting to make your loved one happy, you really can’t go wrong!

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Summertime French Country Favorites

July is a month filled with French inspiration. In addition to celebrating Bastille Day and watching the Tour de France, this month’s hot days and warm nights seem to scream out for a bottle of Rose and light French dinners enjoyed outside. The handmade and hand-painted pottery that I’ve collected from Provence fits right into this environment. Whether you prefer the rustic earthiness of Richard Esteban’s plates, the originality and playfulness of Sylvie Duriez’s bowls, or the simple sophistication of Ravel’s pitchers, these French Country favorites celebrate the laid-back mood of summertime. Here’s a roundup of my summertime French Country favorites… enjoy!

French Country Plate with Stripes
Above: Striped Dinner Plate by Richard Esteban (Provence, France)

French Country Plate with Polka Dots
Above: Polka-Dot Dessert Plate by Richard Esteban (Provence, France)

French Country Bird Jar in Teal Blue
Above: Bird Jar in Teal Blue by Richard Esteban (Provence, France)

French Country Bowl with Blonde and Dog
Above: Shallow Dish – Naptime by Sylvie Duriez (Provence, France)

French Country Pitcher in Butter Yellow
Above: Milk Pitcher in Butter Yellow by Richard Esteban (Provence, France)

French Country Watering Can in Terra Cotta
Above: Watering Jug by Richard Esteban (Provence, France)

French Country Plate with Hand-Painted Flowers
Above: Cookie Plate with Wildflower Bouquet by Sylvie Duriez (Provence, France)

French Country White Pitcher
Above: Provence Pitcher in Ivory by Poterie Ravel (Provence, France)

French Country Bowl with Woman and Dog
Above: Large Dish – Day Off by Sylvie Duriez (Provence, France)


More Summer French Country Favorites >>

Shop by French Artist:

Richard Esteban >>

Sylvie Duriez >>

Poterie Ravel >>

 

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Colorful Plates at Emilia Ceramics in Boulder, CO

Gorky Pottery
Do you use colorful plates or more basic, all-white ones?

Your everyday dishware says a lot about you. Plain white from Ikea probably identifies you as a college student or recent grad who’s not sure where you’ll be in a year. Fancy china received as wedding gifts means you’re traditional and sophisticated… or (more likely) that your mother/mother-in-law is traditional and sophisticated! Antique heirlooms demonstrate that you feel a deep connection to your family history. Fun and eclectic plates mean… well they most likely mean you’re fun and eclectic! Don’t even remember what your plates look like? That’s probably because you eat every meal out and haven’t used your own plates in years. At Emilia Ceramics in Boulder, Colorado, we cater to the fun, irreverent, colorful, and eclectic types. Those of you who love to discover cool, unusual pieces while traveling or just perusing your local hardware store. We sell colorful plates with personality that promise to add dimension and flavor to your meals. Here are some great examples of colorful plates at Emilia Ceramics in Boulder, CO:

Gorky Gonzalez Pottery

Nobody does colorful plates as well as Gorky Gonzalez. Whether you’re a fan of his traditional line featuring palm trees, birds, cactus, donkeys, and cowboys… or his more contemporary Gogo pieces that are glazed in solid colors, these plates will charm you and your guests. I love stacking the dinner, salad, and dessert plates with a variety of outside patterns. Mexican Plates by Gorky Gonzalez

The effect is eclectic and fun, very colorful, and adds so much personality to the table. Another great way to use Gorky Gonzalez pottery is by mixing decorative plates with the Gogo pieces. Not only are these plates super colorful, but they also have a rustic authenticity that can only come from handmade, hand-painted ceramics. And while Gorky pottery is available at other stores, Emilia Ceramics in Boulder, CO (and online) has one of the best collections of colorful plates made by Gorky Gonzalez.

Gorky Pottery

Shop Colorful Plates >>
Shop Gorky Gonzalez Pottery >>
Shop Gogo Mexican Pottery >>

Spanish Dinnerware

Also sold by Emilia Ceramics in Boulder, Colorado, the Spanish dishes by Ceramica Valenciana combine charm, simplicity, and an antique quality that is completely original. In fact, I would call the plates by Ceramica Valenciana our most charismatic. Choose between the snail, peacock, and bird motif… or better yet, combine all three.

Spanish Dishes
Spanish Dishes
Spanish Dishes
The pure white glaze on these plates gives them sophistication and offers a beautiful backdrop for whatever food you’re enjoying. The simple decoration around the edge, as well as the animal in the center, have a playful and dynamic feel. But my favorite part? How light these plates are. They have a weightless feel that reminds me of the antique china my family used on special occasions when I was young. The Spanish dishes at Emilia Ceramics definitely have that antique, heirloom quality to it. These are dinner and dessert plates that you’ll be passing down for generations to come. And isn’t that the true test of winning dinnerware?

Spanish Dishes

Shop Spanish Dishes >>
Shop Ceramica Valenciana >>
Shop Light-Weight Plates & Platters >>

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Celebrating Valentine’s Day

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

 

1. A Gorgeous Vase

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

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Shop our entire Vase Collection here >>

 

2. A Beautiful Jewelry Box

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

mexican pottery jewelry box

spanish pottery jewelry box

mexican pottery jewelry box

mexican pottery jewelry box

Shop our Jewelry Box Collection here >>

 

3. A Fabulous Dessert Plate

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

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french polkadot plate

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Shop our entire Dessert Plate Collection here >>

 

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

 

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5 Tips for Adding Blue and White Ceramics to Your Home

Blue and white looks sharp no matter where it’s found. A classic color combination in home décor, blue and white kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms have a timeless appeal. I’ve always been a fan of blue and white (and have the Pinterest board to prove it), and I am not alone. Blue and white ceramics rank consistently as top sellers for a variety of homes and uses. So what are some great ways to incorporate blue and white ceramics into your home décor?

Here are five tips for instant blue and white style.

blue and white ceramics

Use unexpected containers

Instead of a change jar, why not make coins look like part of your design with a blue and white ceramic bowl? Arranged on an end table, bowls or serving platters also hold everything from candles to a miniature rock garden. I even have a friend who considers this platter her “remote control keeper.”

Mix style with functionality

I think when it comes to blue and white ceramics the more uses, the better. A large blue and white pitcher is the perfect example. Use it to hold ice water, wine, or fresh squeezed mimosas for a weekend brunch. It can be a dramatic centerpiece (empty or full) on a dinner table, or hold a bouquet of fresh flowers on a kitchen sill or countertop. A mix of rustic and modern, pitchers like this are perfect in almost every home.

Go for the walls

Hang blue and white plates, shallow bowls, and serving platters when not in use in your kitchen or dining room. I’ve even seen wallpaper patterned with blue and white ceramics for a two-dimensional take on this idea.

Make snacks attractive

Food just tastes better when it’s presented well, so create appetizing snack options on your kitchen or dining table with carefully chosen ceramics. Blue and white platters hold mini snack bags of trail mix, nuts, or other healthy options for on-the-go bites while a large blue and white bowl brimming with fresh fruit makes it hard to resist.

Mix patterns

Keeping in the same color palette lets you explore fun textures and patterns. In the bedroom, mix a striped carpet with a printed duvet or chair, adding a feeling of depth and luxury to the room. A blue and white ceramic lamp or two, cozy throws, and eclectic pillows further the pattern play.

What’s your favorite use of blue and white decor? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Shop Blue and White Ceramics here.

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Orange Home Decor Ideas

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 5.49.42 PMWell, it’s over a week overdo, but I’m still glowing from the San Francisco Giants’ World Series win. It was a strange experience living in Boulder, Colorado (where very few people seem to even know there’s a baseball team called the Giants) during the World Series instead of San Francisco, where I lived the last two times the Giants won (2012 and 1010). But even far away, I got very swept up by the whole experience and wore as much orange as I could.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 1.34.28 PMOrange is not for everyone, but there are definitely those of us who love the color. I have been a fan of orange ever since becoming a Princeton Tiger in college. But my affinity for the color orange also translates to home decor. Lucky for me, orange (in all of it’s varying hues) has had a major resurgence in popularity over the last few years, so orange home decor ideas are readily available. (On a side note, I’ve noticed that designers often use more stylish names for orange, like mango, mandarin, and coral.)

Why’s orange so great? I think because of it’s versatility. Dark reddish-orange has a classic, rustic feel, like the color of tomato soup or the Golden Gate Bridge. Citrus orange feels more retro. And then there’s bright orange, which is modern and fresh. Whichever orange you opt for, the color has a clean, bright, fresh, happy feel. In fact, Frank Sinatra himself said: “Orange is the happiest color.” If you need to see it to believe it, check out all the great orange home decor ideas on Houzz.

It’s no surprise that the Emilia Ceramics collection embraces orange. It’s a timeless color that looks amazing with blue and white (our favorite color combination), but also mixes well with green, grey, and black. The perfect orange this time of year is Gorky Gonzalez’s pumpkin colored plates, bowls, and mugs. These have a rich terra-cotta tone that reminds me of pumpkin pie. They look amazing mixed and matched with Gorky Gonzalez blue and white pottery as well as Richard Esteban’s charming French country plates. The pumpkin platters are a great backdrop for any food. I love serving cheese, grapes, and crackers on the Pumpkin Long Platter with Floral Relief.

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Keeping with the rustic, classic orange feel, there is nothing quite like Talavera Vazquez’s striped and chevron pieces in burnt orange. Set in a room with predominantly neutral colors, they make a stylish impact, in an understated, authentic way. The Striped Vase – Especial is one of my go-to gifts. It seems no matter the recipients style, this vase fits in… adding a surprising element of warmth to any room in the house. The chevron lamps are another of my favorites. They have so much personality.

decorate with ginger jars

The newest orange addition to the collection is the sophisticated dinner and salad plates by Gialletti Giulio with an orange stripe around the edge. The citrus orange on these platters feels fresh and flavorful. I honestly feel like I’d expect to taste an undertone of orange zest in any food eaten off these plates. Their simplicity is perfect.

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Do you love orange too? Have any great orange home decor ideas or favorite orange fabrics, wall paints, etc. that you’d like to share? We’d love to see them — If you email me your favorite photos incorporating orange, I’ll pin them to our “Only Orange” board on Pinterest.

 

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Have You Heard of Capelo Pottery?

capeloWhile I’m sure there are a few Mexican pottery aficionados out there who have heard of him (in fact, I’ve met a few of you), most people reading this are probably thinking “Capelo who?!” Here at Emilia Ceramics, we like to describe Capelo as the Prince or Madonna of pottery, since he goes by just one name and has a style all his own. Capelo’s not the easiest artist to work with — He’s a true artist who is much more concerned with the function, form, and quality of his work than he is with the selling of it. (For more background, checkout the post I wrote while visiting Capelo last: Mas de Mexico!)

While the process of working with Capelo may not be seamless, I would never give it up. That’s because I am personally a HUGE fan of Capelo’s work. His vases, bowls, and plates have a touchable softness that is completely unique. He uses rustic-colored glazes that I love displaying with Richard’s French country tableware (in fact, Capelo Pottery is a bit like a “French Country” Mexican artist, if such a think exists!). What I love most is the smooth, water-like effect of Capelo’s glazes, which make each piece beg to be used and loved. I have a tray by Capelo next to my bed that brings a smile to my face every day and I am seriously considering bringing some of these little plates home to use for toast in the morning.

little_plate_9little_plate_5 little_plate_7

Also on my list of current Capelo favorites are these two footed bowls: La Tropical and La Primavera. They make perfect centerpieces, whether filled with citrus fruits or left bare to show off Capelo’s hand-applied brushstrokes. They would also be great serving bowls on a summer buffet filled with a fresh fruit or green salad!

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footed_bowl_yellow

You cannot go wrong with a piece by Capelo. For one thing, nobody will ever have a vase, mug, or plate just like yours. That’s because he never makes two things exactly alike. Each one is imbued with Capelo’s charismatic, rustic, and super creative personality. Each one has been hand-crafted with the hope that it be loved and enjoyed and passed down from generation to generation. And I think that is truly how Capelo wants to be known — As an artist that loves his craft and his country and wants to share the best of each with others.

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Where Ceramic Pitchers Meet Italian Style

Italian countryside
Italian country decor is truly timeless. Rustic, inviting, and always the perfect blend of function and beauty, it’s no surprise Italy inspires countless households outside of its borders. A Tuscan vase or little bowl on the table can invoke years of tradition to even the newest home. But the most versatile piece of Italian country decor? I give you the ceramic pitcher.

Think about it. Ceramic pitchers keep drinks cool and protect a table from drips, whether wine or water. Pour in a bottle of red wine about a half hour before your meal and even the least expensive table wine will greatly improve. Your pitcher just became a less-breakable wine decanter. A ceramic pitcher is also easier to pass around the table. Refill anyone?

ceramic pitcher

Nothing reminds me more of my time in Tuscany than a bouquet of wildflowers in a ceramic pitcher on a well-used, large wooden table. The embrace of natural beauty without artifice is relaxed and authentic. Using pitchers as vases also saves on storage space in your cabinets (bonus).

ceramic pitcher

Other ways to add the Italian touch to your dining experience? Italian hand painted plates showcase appetizers or desserts for a special touch. Try a ceramic salad bowl to serve your salad at the end of the meal like they do in Italy instead of at the beginning. Serving plates piled high with delicious food, little bowls filled with olives, and a Tuscan vase on the sideboard: your Italian feast is complete.

Tuscan vases
What are your favorite examples of Italian country decor?

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French Ceramics from Kiln to Table

Provence countryside France

Farm to table dining showcases the best tastes of the season, whether vine-ripe tomatoes or hearty greens. But in Provence, farm to table doesn’t just apply to food – just look at French ceramics! Rustic plates and dishware perfectly match local flavors, combining effortless French chic with a homegrown vibe.

Take Richard Esteban‘s tableware sets. His plates and bowls are a playful mix of motifs and patterns. Stripes, polka dots, animals, even race cars! I fell in love with these plates and bowls when dining with Richard and his family in France. Their outdoor table is typical; al fresco dining is de rigueur for the area when the weather is warm enough. I particularly loved the roaring outdoor fire and the sprawling tree that kept the table shady and cool on even the hottest days.

Outdoor dining at Aigues-Vives Provence

Richard Esteban plates and bowls

   Richard Esteban pottery

Like his farmer neighbors, Richard works with the land – though in his case, he harvests clay, not vegetables. This rich red clay body only shows on the bottom of his plates and bowls, though it’s the shining star of his new wine bottle holder. The vibrant mineral glazes also embody Richard and his team’s “kiln to table” philosophy, resulting in natural tones that are the perfect compliment to Provence’s rich, green countryside. The butter yellow base color for most of his plates makes these French ceramics easy to mix and match. Stack stripes with polka dots or mottos like vive le bon vin (long live good wine); the results are just as relaxed as Richard’s home and studio.

Richard Esteban pottery

Arnaud makes French ceramics

The rustic elegance of Richard Esteban’s French ceramics holds a certain je ne sais quoi that I think is uniquely French. Mix and match some decorative dinner plates, pour a bottle of wine in to a pitcher, slice up a baguette – see, you’re almost there yourself! Now enjoy a delicious meal, lingering to chat long after the food is finished for your very own Provence-inspired moment. Bon appétit!

French ceramic bowl

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The Best Decorative Dinner Plates for Summer Dining: 3 Tips

Summertime means incredible fresh fruits and vegetables, grilling adventures, and leisurely outdoor dining with friends and family. Even if you’re not planning to eat every meal outside this summer, it’s the perfect time to embrace playful motifs that celebrate the season. Bring on the bright colors and interesting textures!

decorative dinner plate
Looking for the best decorative dinner plates for your summer meals? Here are three rules to follow when updating your table this season:

1. Matching is so yesterday. It’s really true: plates and bowls don’t need to match. Mix up your classic dishware sets with square plates, oblong bowls, and other unusual shapes. Highlight that incredible dessert by serving it on distinct plates from the rest of the meal. The eclectic vibe will make your meals feel more relaxed and personal.

 rectangle serving platter

2. Color rules. Have at least two colors in your dishware sets; the variety makes even the most ordinary weekday meal feel more fun. If working from a base of white plates and bowls, mix in colorful serving or salad plates. Bold reds, cool blues, bright greens, brilliant yellows – there are no wrong answers. Patterns are also an excellent way to incorporate texture and more color without getting too crazy.

decorative dinner plate - orange stripeyellow dinner plate

3. Avoid plastic plates and cutlery. Nothing ruins that gorgeous masterpiece from the grill quicker than trying to cut it with a flimsy knife. The same goes for having your plate fly away in the wind. Unless you’re carrying your dishware multiple miles on a camping trip, take the time to use decorative dinner plates and solid silverware. The guests at your next barbeque will thank you.

dishware set

Need some ideas for what to serve on your decorative dinner plates and tableware sets that is suitable for summer? Check out Emilia Ceramic’s Pinterest boards for delicious recipes and ways to entertain as the days get longer.

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Decor Decadence: Polka Dot Dishes & Other Home Decor Inspired by @Couturecolorado

Polka dots add whimsy and charm, but they also have a sophisticated side. COUTUREcolorado’s recent post on polka dot interiors had everything from big polka dots to polka dot wallpaper to polka dot cushions and sheets. What’s there not to love?

Polka dot interiors

Subtle tonal variations, particularly with shades of gray, make for polka dots that intrigue instead of overwhelm in the home. There’s also the question of spacing: spaced-out dots whisper more than shout.

polka dot wall

Mixed with other patterns, polka dots are a definite favorite for home design aficionados for all rooms of the home. Gold polka dot pillows add causal elegance.

gold dot pillow

Polka dot wall art creates visual interest. Or just add polka dots to your existing walls with decals (no mess, no fuss?).

gold polka dot wall

And polka dot desk accessories? Major win.

polka dot notebook

Of course, some of my favorites remain polka dot dishes. How else could you bring the dot joy to your table? Polka dot bowls dress up party snacks or your daily breakfast cereal.

polka dot bowls

Personally, I’m in love with the mix of dots on Richard Esteban’s handmade plates. Layering dots with stripes and solid pieces feels lush and sophisticated; these are definitely ideal for mix and match fans.

polka dot dish And another of my favorite French artists, Sylvie Duriez, loves to incorporate colorful polka dots into her subtle work on plates and pitchers.

girls_waiting_plate
pink_polkadot_pitcher_3

How are you using polka dots in your home? Check out our polka dots on Pinterest for even more inspiration and share your favorites.

Polka dot collage image courtesy COUTUREcolorado. Other images via Pinterest.

black polka dot pitcher

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Spring: The Official Season of Emilia Ceramics

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

Serving Platters

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

oval_applefish_platter_yellow_8fruta_venezia_platterrectangular_fishlarge_snail_platter_1
Serving Bowls

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

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tropical_birds_above
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large_bowl_brown_birds_above
Pitchers

I love how in Europe they serve wine from hand-crafted pitchers. It seems to add to the earthiness of the beverage and can actually keep white wine colder than a bottle. Of course, these pitchers are also great for serving lemonade, iced tea, or water. And when they’re not being used to pour, they look fantastic with a bouquet of fresh flowers.
large_fruit_pitcher_2

green_milk_pitcher
small_cherry_pitcher

large_bird_pitcher_1
agua_pitcher_sideVases

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

yellow_zigzag_vase
venice_fruit_vase
round_vase_butter_yellow
Tableware

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

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Deruta Plates: Italian Dinnerware at Its Finest

Deruta has been famous for centuries and after a quick look at its ceramics (both old and new), it’s easy to see why. One of Italy’s largest ceramic production areas, there are more than 300 ceramic workshops in Deruta today. Just as with other historical ceramic centers in Italy, modern Deruta is home to a mix of traditional artists still crafting everything by hand and those now mass producing their work. What’s wonderful about Deruta in particular is that it’s still possible to visit the artists who are following the old ways, in their studios. I’ve visited many artists there over the years while looking for the perfect fit for the Emilia Ceramics collection. Finding the Gialletti family-run studio took a long time, but was definitely worth the effort.

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Ceramics have been made in Deruta since the 14th century. Classic patterns such as Raffaellesco, Arabesco, and Gallo Verde harken back to its Renaissance peak, with each piece of Italian dinnerware painted by hand. Artists train under masters for years, perfecting their technique since majolica is a completely unforgiving medium. You can’t erase the glaze if you paint outside of the pattern. With all those intricate details, I always hold my breath when watching the artists at work. I’m afraid if I make a noise I’ll ruin everything!

Deruta Italian dinnerware
Italian dinnerware

This video by Geribi underlines the epic nature of Deruta as well as shows examples of its long history. Some of the fragments look much like pieces made by Ceramiche Gialletti Giulio, which is quite amazing.

Want more Deruta? Check out the area’s history and incredible Italian dinnerware to see for yourself why so many people are just a little obsessed. Pinterest is also full of beautiful Deruta, though it’s a mix of authentic, handpainted pieces and imitation designs that have been mass-produced. With all these beautiful pieces of Italian dinnerware, I’m sure that Deruta will remain loved for centuries to come.

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Loving Sylvie Duriez!

I recently sent out a newsletter (what?! you don’t get our newsletter? Sign up here) entitled: “Unique is French for Awesome.” It was all about our most popular French artist Sylvie Duriez and her one-of-a-kind, totally original and totally awesome ceramic artwork. It’s difficult to describe Sylvie’s work… and nearly impossible to truly impart its beauty through online photos. You just have to see it to believe it.

Sylvie Duriez Collection
(While the new Sylvie Collection just arrived, I picked all these pieces out while visiting Sylvie back in June. If you want to learn more about Sylvie, here’s her bio: Sylvie Duriez — Or you can read the post from my last visit to her studio in Pertuis, France.)

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Sylvie throws each piece by hand, sticking to pretty basic shapes: tall cylindrical pitchers, little pitchers, bowls of various size and shape, and plates. The magic really happens after she’s fired these pieces and begins to decorate them. Sylvie dips each piece in a cream colored base glaze and then uses a fine needle to draw the outline of her subjects (birds, flowers, dogs, cats, bunnies, girls, and occasionally mice). This creates a cool effect by exposing the terracotta below the base glaze. She then uses subtle, yet beautiful glazes to paint within those lines (and often outside the lines as well) to bring her subjects to life.

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Her paintings are much like watercolors, they consist of only a few brushstrokes, delicately applied and sometimes smeared, but they come together to convey huge emotion and personality. Regardless of their color or size, her dogs, cats, birds, and people spring to life. Even the flowers jump off their ceramic canvas and become animated… so real you can almost touch and smell them.
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And that’s truly what I love best about Sylvie’s work — the plates don’t require a perfectly arranged meal… the pitchers don’t require the perfect bouquet of flowers… and the bowls certainly don’t require a beautifully-tossed salad. Each piece makes it’s own statement, all on its own. Regardless of whether it is displayed on a shelf or set on a table, used for food, full of flowers, or left empty, the piece itself is the art and it imparts beauty all day long, everyday. I guess I could say the same about each piece in the Emilia Ceramics collection. After all, I choose each one individually because it inspires me and I believe it will bring joy and beauty to the home where it ends up. They are all handmade lovingly to be used and enjoyed… but mostly enjoyed. Sylvie Duriez, however, really ups the anty. Her pieces are true works of art. Each one an individual. Each one conveying its own unique story with its own unique personality and beauty. And that’s why ‘unique is French for awesome!’

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Delicious Winter Whites: Gourmet Salads & Chic White Platters

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There’s snow on the ground and suddenly I’m feeling drawn to the pure simplicity of white plates and platters.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s no rule that white must be bland. Take this collection of fresh, modern winter white salad recipes by Ignacio Mattos over at Bon Appétit. Seared scallops with avocado and daikon – divine. Grapefruit and white beets – crisply elegant. Barley and cauliflower with burrata – inspired. These combinations are way beyond mashed potatoes or a side of rice.

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We’re often told that color is the surefire indicator for flavor and nutrition, yet these winter white salads prove that white is anything but boring. The photos of these recipes really stand out (go check them out!) because of the food styling on simple, white plates. I could see these salads showcased on round or oval white platters, the hints of color peeking out from underneath fresh citrus and subtle root vegetables.

The best part about both these recipes and white platters? Their simplicity. Just a few ingredients let real depth shine through — the crisp flavors of endive mixed with toasted walnuts — especially when set against a striking shaped backdrop, like a square white plate or rectangular platter.

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Have you ever made a white salad or an entire monochromatic meal? Leave a comment with your favorite pairings and what you think of this white on white theme for your seasonal salad.

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Blue and White Mexican Pottery Promises Good Luck in 2014!

How would you like some good fortune in 2014? Good luck traditions range all over the world from breaking plates in Denmark to wearing polka dots in the Philippines. I recently learned that in medieval Europe people listened for a dove’s first call since they believed it indicated the luck to come in the new year. If the call came from above, good luck would come; if from below, bad luck was on its way.

I like to believe that all of the doves on the paloma blue and white Mexican pottery collection bring good luck. I love the mix of patterns and textures that surround the subtle shape of a flying dove on these ceramics; they are at once ornate and warmly rustic. The tall blue and white vase is striking filled with colorful blooms or left empty. The smaller round vase works well for small flowers or as a pen and pencil holder on a desk.

blue and white Mexican pottery vase For those with birthdays in January, the versatile oval paloma box makes a great gift, holding jewelry, toiletries, or keys. Another perennial favorite is the paloma oval serving dish.

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If doves aren’t your good luck bird of choice, why not celebrate the New Year with roosters? Blue and white Mexican pottery pieces such as this rooster serving bowl possess a unique charm all their own. Another of my personal favorites is Gorky’s large blue and white rooster. He would be perfect as an accent in a kitchen or in the home of any rooster collector. All that personality has got to bring good luck, right?

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Here at Emilia Ceramics, 2014 is sure to bring more beautiful blue and white Mexican pottery pieces, as well as new French and Italian ceramics, and the return of some old favorites. I feel so fortunate to work with such talented artists, not to mention our dedicated and energetic customers (both new and returning). No matter what you do to bring yourself good luck this year, from toasts at midnight to eating grapes to wearing red underwear, here’s to it being fantastic!

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New Hand Painted Italian Ceramics from Ceramiche Gialletti Giulio

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When thinking about hand painted Italian ceramics words like durable, intricate, original, and historic come to mind. From the locally sourced clay to fabulous, colorful glazes, Italian ceramics certainly stand out. That’s one of the reasons I was so excited to find Ceramiche Gialletti Giulio, a studio run by the brothers Antonio and Carlo, in Deruta, Italy. Another historic center for majolica, the highly ornate designs and lush colors of Deruta ceramics are justly famous. After I met the amazing team of artists at this third generation family workshop in the summer of 2013, I knew I had to share them as part of the Emilia Ceramics collection. Unpacking the boxes has been amazing.

For centuries hand painted Italian ceramics were used by wealthy families for their meals and home decor. Deruta became known for the intricate decorative work on their ceramics, setting their plates particularly apart from the rest. Gialletti Giulio’s exquisite plate collection continues this tradition, with intricate borders in an amazing array of colors. I love how the patterned borders create a strong statement when stacked together.

Italian hand painted ceramic platesItalian hand painted plates The decorative patterns really shine on their one of a kind jewelry boxes too. The flower-inspired motifs remind me of mandalas. You can also see every brushstroke, which makes these pieces even more special. These jewelry boxes are definitely a great gift idea for anyone who loves Italy and needs a small piece they can see every day on a dresser or tabletop.

Italian jewelry box

Other great daily reminders of Italy also include a variety of home accessories like salt and pepper shakers, oil and vinegar sets, and soap dispensers.

Italian salt and pepper setServing platters are another versatile, high-impact piece whether used as a centerpiece or holding your main course for dinner. Watching the artists work at Gialletti Giulio was much like visiting my other Italian artists; these are truly people who are meticulous and have a passion for their craft. I can’t wait to see what I unpack next so I can share even more of their amazing hand painted Italian ceramics with you all.

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Create Tuscan Chic with Ceramic Pitchers & Italian Country Decor

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Looking to add the perfect touch of warm, Italian charm to your home? Look no further than Tuscany for your inspiration. The gorgeous countryside and rustic aesthetic have worked together perfectly for hundreds of years. Don’t own your own Italian country house? Here are some ways to add simple, yet chic touches from ceramic pitchers to iron accents that will add the feel of Tuscany to your home, wherever it might be.

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Bring in nature. Traditional Tuscan kitchens have herbs hanging and flowers on the table (often in a Tuscan vase). Connected to the land, there’s a seamless transition between outdoors and the organic feel of inside. Simple touches like branches or dried flowers are an easy way to freshen a space and bring some of the outside in. Hang a bunch of dried lavender, rope of garlic, braid of onions or another decorative and useful addition to your kitchen. Greenery adds warmth to the dining room, whether a few plants in the window or a vase on the sideboard.

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Mix materials.
A large wood table is the backbone of most Tuscan homes. It’s where people gather to feast, visit, or maybe make a batch of homemade pasta. Iron candleholders or trivets mix well with a ceramic salad bowl or Italian hand painted plates to set the table for your feast (or just for family dinner). Choose handmade accents whenever possible as you mix pieces together to create a warm, eclectic space. And forget about everything matching. With Italian country décor, when your ceramic salad bowl doesn’t exactly match your plates it feels more authentic.

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Use ceramic pitchers. Surprisingly versatile, these ceramics can double as a Tuscan vase or decorate a shelf in your kitchen when not in active use. A ceramic pitcher full of water is ideal for any meal; use multiple ceramic pitchers to easily pass wine, juice, or another beverage of choice. Even the most ordinary dinner suddenly gains a relaxed Tuscan elegance.

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Italian country kitchen image courtesy Craig Stanfill.

Garlic image courtesy nociveglia.

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Spanish Ceramics Coming Soon from Ceramica Valenciana

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

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

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

cactus and rooster platesOne of the best parts of the Emilia Ceramics Showroom is arranging ceramics in ways that people actually use them. I love the way that stacks of decorative dinner plates look and have had fun displaying lots of plates and bowls. The results look good enough to eat (off of)!

The dishware sets by Gorky Gonzalez are consistent favorites with customers and looking over the many styles, sizes, and patterns, it’s not hard to see why. Their mix of colors means there are plates for every taste. There are plain dinner plates for the minimalists and richly decorated salad and dessert plates for those who like more personality with their place settings. Gorky’s whimsical designs make for decorative dinner plates that people use daily instead of only for special occasions.

decorative dinner plate rooster plates Gorky’s studio has an entire team of artists who paint his plates and bowls. Although there is a traditional design that the artists follow, Gorky encourages them to add their own creativity and style to the piece. So no two fish or cowboys look exactly alike, giving each plate its own intentional charm. I particularly love the new caballero plates with their mustached cowboys in a variety of sizes and the Mexican cowgirl (la charra) serving plates. They definitely add some spice to the other characters in Gorky’s tableware sets.

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Stacking smaller plates on dinner plates is an easy way to add style to the table, whether it’s a family brunch or formal dinner. Having a variety of colors and patterns creates texture and can quickly change the feel of your space. Often people mix the designs of the smaller dessert and salad plates, having a set with a variety of animals or figures. I think it makes everything just a little more dynamic. If patterns or figures lack appeal, simply mixing colors can be an easy way to update a table and add a personal touch to the meal. Pair a stack of plates in rainbow hues with neutral table linens for a table setting that really pops.

decorative dinner platesNow that fall is truly here, I know people are starting to think about all the entertaining that cooler temperatures bring. For me the biggest question will be which plates and bowls to leave off the table—and with so many great options from Gorky, it’s definitely a question that will take time to answer!

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The Ultimate Registry Guide: 5 Things to Not Forget

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

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

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

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

Polka dot bed image courtesy of browndresswithwhitedots via Pinterest.

Cocktail shaker image courtesy of lennox_mcdough.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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The Nostalgia of Blue and White

Remember when you were a kid visiting relatives and how wonderfully different their homes were from yours? Or when guests would come over and suddenly there would be an entirely different set of dishes to serve dinner? My favorite was my grandmother’s etched glassware, which I actually now have and use whenever I have guests over. It always transports me back to her house and the iced tea she made in the sun each day.

blue and white tea partySimilarly, there’s something wonderfully nostalgic about running into plates and bowls that remind you of your childhood. Whether it’s the fact that your parents still have and use the same dishes or coming across a blue and white bowl at a friend’s house, restaurant, or antique shop, the memories can be incredibly vivid. My parents had (and still use) small, delicately painted blue and white bowls — blue and white bowlthey served me soup when I was sick and  held ice cream when I was healthy. I think this is one of the reasons I was immediately drawn to Richard Esteban’s French coffee bowls. They have a similar feel and shape to the bowls of my childhood.

I think this is why people love blue and white ceramics so much. Blue and white is a classic color combination for fine porcelain, but those delicate plates, bowls, and cups aren’t really suited for the contingencies of everyday life. Sturdier ceramics that evoke the same associations are an ideal compromise. Although not every ceramic piece brings up a memory, the link between objects and experiences is definitely a strong one. I came across this intriguing blog post discussing the link between objects and memories if you’re interested in reading more about the phenomenon.

mug_sideIf you think about it, people do the same thing by collecting souvenirs when they travel. The word comes from the French “to remember” since having a thing makes the memory easier to access. Whenever I want to be reminded of my travels, I reach for an Italian mug or a French coffee bowl: suddenly I’m back in European rolling hills enjoying a drink at a little local café.

Of course, the easiest way to keep a link with the dishware from your past is to use it. This is why so many people pass down their porcelain table settings and fine serving pieces as well as other important objects. Having the creamer that sat on your great-aunt’s dining table or the crystal glasses used by your grandparents is a wonderful way to keep the people from your past as part of your present.
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What objects make you remember your childhood? Are there certain blue and white bowls, plates, cups, or other ceramics that connect you to your past? Souvenirs you try and use frequently? Leave a comment and let us know!

Tea party image courtesy of kevin dooley.

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The Award for Best Dressed Kitchen Goes to… Polka Dot Dishes

Vanity Fair recently announced its International Best Dressed list, honoring Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton among others famed for their sartorial prowess. With the blogs and news sources following her fashions, Kate is probably one of the most well-documented women today. But looking over the blog What Kate Wore, one thing really stands out: this is a woman who loves polka dots.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry visit Warner Bros. Studios

Take the dress she wore after the birth of her son Prince George. Simple and understated, the blue dress with little white dots and simple lines was perfectly in keeping with her modern sense of style. Check out more photos here. Other recent polka dot favorites include a chic white dress with black dots (paired with black jacket) and a black and white wrap dress. As Refinery 29’s recent slideshow demonstrates, the polka dot is still making a splash on clothing and accessories for us non-royals as well. What dots are in your wardrobe?

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Of course, fashion and home décor play off each other. That’s why it’s no surprise to see so many home accessories following the polka dot trend. Polka dot wallpaper, polka dot dishes (including mugs and bowls), big polka dots on the wall or small polka dots on the floor: everything can get dotty these days. I talked about polka dots earlier this year and style forecasts say they are here to stay beyond 2013. I think Kate would like the playful polka dot bowls and other polka dot dishes by Richard Esteban. Full of French charm, they enliven any kitchen when displayed on open shelving. The stunning black polka dot platter is another winner, chic and sophisticated in its whimsy. Given how fast these polka dot dishes sell out, I’ve been constantly increasing my orders with Richard… and barely staying ahead of demand! If there was an award for International Best Dressed Kitchen, I definitely think these polka dot dishes would be on the radar of any nominee.

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What kind of polka dots do you love? Check out our Pinterest board on polka dots for some more favorites and let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

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Capelo Pottery, a Unique Take on Mexican Ceramics

Capelo's studio and countryside

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

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

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

Capelo pitcher

square serving dishCapelo plates

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

Capelo fluted footed bowl

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La Dolce Vita

florence1After a long day of train rides, I made it from Nice (where I dropped off my rental car) to Florence. It was actually a longer journey than I had envisioned (in the past, I’ve always stopped along the way) and I arrived starving. About halfway to Florence, I had decided I was going to wait to eat until I could eat real Italian food… so I checked into my hotel, splashed some water on my face, and headed to the nearest trattoria. It was worth it! The fresh tagliatelle al funghi was delicious and the “house red” tasted as good as any wine I’ve had in a long time.

The next day I woke up early and headed back to the train station for the 20 minute ride to Montelupo Fiorentino. Montelupo is famous for its majolica because of the town’s location on the old Roman road that brought Moorish traders (and their ceramic wares) from Spain to Florence. During the Renaissance, artisans in Montelupo began elaborating on the ceramic designs, adding realistic imagery and brighter colors, transforming them into the high art form we know today.

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While there are many ceramic artists in Montelupo, I am pretty confident Emilia Ceramics buys from the two best! My first visit was to Ceramiche d’Arte Tuscia. Co-owner (and grandson of Tuscia’s founder) David met me at the small train station and we drove to Tuscia. new_piecesWe found Gabriele (the head-painter and other co-owner) working and telling jokes to three other painters. They greeted me — most remembering my first visit 5 years ago — and were very nice when I wanted to take lots of photos while they worked.

As I’ve described before, Tuscia is located in a 2 story brick building, filled with ceramic artwork. Each shelf in each room is stacked with plates, bowls, canisters, and pitchers that look like they belong in a museum.

I selected a number of new pieces to add to the order I had already placed with Tuscia and had an espresso with David — who was expecting a new baby girl at any moment! Then David drove me to Ceramiche Bartoloni, which is in a more industrial part of town. We were greeted by Patrizio and Lucia Bartoloni. Lucia is Patrizio’s wife and helps run the business along with Patrizio’s brother Stefano and his wife. The four of them do almost everything themselves, only hiring extra painters when needed. Lucia speaks some English, so she talked with me about the recent order I had placed and showed me all the new designs and patterns.

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blogOf course, the limoni and rooster patterns are my Bartoloni faves… but there were a few new patterns that jumped out at me. So I added some new styles as well as some more sizes of bowls to my order (expect some great new salad and pasta bowls from Ceramiche Bartoloni). Patrizio was very busy and had to leave soon to pick his son up at school, but he gave me a double-cheek kiss and posed for a picture before he ran out the door. Then Lucia drove me back to the train station and I spent the 20 minute ride back to Florence trying to digest all the beautiful artwork I had just seen.

The next day, after another awesome pasta dinner and a few gelatos, I went to visit Daniela’s ceramic shop in downtown Florence: La Botteghina del Ceramista. Daniella is a good friend of my uncle Gifford (who is also responsible for introducing me to the ceramics from Tuscia and Bartoloni). I visited Daniella’s shop on my first trip to Florence, before I even knew I was going to start a ceramics-importing business. I fell in love with her collection though, which includes ceramics from the Bartoloni brothers, among other great Italian artists. On my first visit I bought the Square Blu Limoni Platter from Daniella and gave it to my brother as a wedding gift.

I’ve been back a few times since and been able to share with Daniella the progress of my growing business. As always, she was very helpful in pointing out new pieces and best sellers, telling me where they were from, and giving me contact names and numbers. It was great to visit with Daniella and watch her in her element, surrounded by the beautiful Italian majolica, sharing it with tourists and local Italians alike. It reminded me what a great job I have!

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Poterie Aigues-Vives: Another Great Visit with Richard Esteban

Well, I made it to Provence! It was a long trip, but well worth it… I checked into my new favorite hotel in St. Rémy-de-Provence and took an immediate dip in the refreshing (by which I mean freezing) swimming pool. I had the rest of the day for some much needed r and r, which helped prepare me for the long day to come, full of driving (and getting lost), shopping (mostly for ceramics), and continuously failing to be understood in French! (It doesn’t matter how much I study the “pronounced as” portion of my French translation book, I seem incapable of saying words correctly! I do have merci and parfait down pretty well though, which goes a long way in relaxed Provence.)

poterieThe plan for the day was to head to Aigues-Vives, a little town in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France where I have now visited Richard Esteban four times! After all those visits, I now know that as long as I can get near the town, I can find Richard. That’s because there are “poterie” signs helpfully displayed throughout town directing you to his home/workshop (like in the photo here). You see, Aigues-Vives is mostly on the map because of Richard Esteban’s ceramic work. It is a lovely little town, but I’m not sure anyone would visit unless they had heard of the polka-dot, stripe, and songbird designs painted there… or the charismatic artist himself.IMG_2146

When I arrived yesterday it was quieter than in the past, with just Richard and his right-hand-woman Katia manning the shop. They greeted me enthusiastically, asked about my business and my friend Jessica, who came with me last time I visited. I recently placed a big order with Richard, complete with all the polka-dot mugs, pitchers, and plates that have recently sold out at Emilia Ceramics. I knew immediately though that I’d be adding to that order while visiting the shop in person. That’ll give Richard some more euros to put in his custom-made piggy bank, as he is demonstrating in the funny photo on the right (with Katia)!

I’ve described before how Richard’s shop is like my personal heaven on earth. So many beautiful works of art — from giant statues of birds and soldiers, to small plates proclaiming Vive l’Amour. Each piece is original, whether in the shade of its rustic glaze or in its hand-molded design and shape. There is so much to see and be amazed by. Add to that the ambiance created by open doors and windows to let the warm breeze through, songbirds chirping in their cages, and pet dogs lazily strolling around or sleeping in the shade.

platespitchers
Richard was the same outgoing character as in the past — At the end of the afternoon he mustered up his best English and asked “You want drink wine?” Of course I did… but I passed as I was already feeling my jet-lag kick in and needed to drive another couple of hours. It’s a good thing I said no, as the signs leading away from his “poterie” are not quite as clear as those getting there. My early success had given me too much confidence in my directional skills and I proceeded to get very lost on my way back to St. Rémy.  Luckily, that’s what I’ve come to expect on these trips. What’s an adventure in Provence without a little time spent circling roundabouts until you feel dizzy?! I had a great first day in France and I can’t wait for all that’s to come. Tomorrow I go see Sylvie and Poterie Ravel. And next week, andiamo a Italia! I can’t wait — I have high hopes that my Italian pronunciations will be much better! Honestly, they couldn’t get any worse : ).

 

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Mexican and Italian Roosters: Different Takes on an Old Tradition

For most of us, roosters conjure up ideas of an idyllic American farm in the country, with a red barn and welcoming atmosphere. But these proud birds carry a rich significance around the world, and one that goes beyond their status as an international alarm clock. Roosters are popular in legends, often symbolizing heroism and courage (such as the French coq gaulois, a symbol of France since Roman times). Unsurprisingly, then, roosters have made their way onto objects ranging from flags to plates to wine bottles, though what they stand for changes vastly with geography.rooster dip bowl

Take Gorky Gonzalez pottery, for example. This Mexican artist has almost single-handedly revitalized Mexico’s majolica tradition rooster platterincorporating Japanese, Spanish, Italian, and Indigenous-Mexican techniques with his studies of traditional Mexican pottery. The rooster, in many ways, reflects Gorky’s pride in his country and his craft. For example, strutting roosters often are featured on the silvered or golden botonadura (the buttons and chains that decorate a dress suit) worn by Mexican charros (horsemen) and mariachis, most likely invoking the tradition that roosters bring good luck. In fact, one of the traditions about white roosters in Mexico is that they bring good luck, so you should never kill them, though a rooster crowing at night is a sign of bad luck coming.

The roosters on Gorky Gonzalez pottery may be silent, but they still make an impact. His rooster plates feature proud birds, whether brilliantly multicolored or monochromatic, caught mid-strut or proudly crowing. On my last visit to Gorky’s workshop, I noticed a proliferation of these birds and was happy to add many of his one of a kind plates, bowls, and even ornaments to the Emilia Ceramics collection.

blue and white rooster tray

Roosters also bring good luck in Italy. A common manifestation of this Italian tradition is a rooster pitcher, often given as a housewarming present to protect against trespassers and danger. The legend goes that an assassination attempt on Guiliano Medici in the 15th rooster salad bowlcentury was foiled when roosters announced the attack. Medici had hundreds of rooster pitchers created by local potters to celebrate. Though the rooster is often found on pitchers, other Italian ceramics such as serving platters, bowls, plates, and mugs are also popular. Bartoloni’s roosters are vivid and lifelike, with rainbow colored tail feathers, and are always painted mid-crow. As I prepare to visit these Italian artists later this month, I will be on the lookout for more of their black rooster plates, another Chianti legend and symbol of the region.

From rooster plates to pitchers, mugs to bowls, these birds are certainly a great addition to traditional ceramics the world over. Do you know of any other traditions associated with roosters from around the world?

italian rooster pitcher

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How to Set Your Table the French Way (Hint: Use French Ceramics)

French dinner tableAs I prepare for my upcoming trip to France and Italy, I find myself thinking about all the French ceramics I’ll be seeing shortly. It can be quite overwhelming when having to choose from all the wonderful pieces that my French artists create. But it’s not all work, of course. Take my visits to Poterie d’Aigues-Vives. After the hard work of choosing is over, I love sitting around the table with Richard Esteban and his family, feasting on a delicious meal presented on his signature dishware.

 

Even if a trip to Provence is not in your future, it’s easy to bring France to your home this summer. After you find some crusty bread, tangy cheese, and open that bottle of wine, you’re well on your way. Ready to complete the vibe? Here are my tips for setting your table like Richard does:

 

 

Patterns should mix.

plates and bowls

Plates and bowls don’t need to match; stack striped plates and polka dot bowls together for flair and fun. Keep colors complementary and let your imagination run wild. If you’re feeling bold, get other patterns and textures into the mix with your plates and bowls. Dishware sets never looked so unique!

Platters should be heaped.

French ceramic serving platter The French like to enjoy a leisurely meal, particularly when enjoying dinner outside after the day’s work is done. Fill French ceramic serving platters with fresh vegetables, crisp salads, perfectly done fish, or other bounties of the season, then enjoy time around the table (no need to run back to the kitchen). Strangely, I find that even though the mealtimes are longer in France, I always eat less since there’s time to truly savor every bite.

Pitchers should be filled.

French pitcher - teal

A meal isn’t complete without the proper drinks. At Richard’s that means a pitcher filled with red wine, another filled with water, and sometimes a third with fresh lemonade. Decanting allows your wine to breathe and the spout makes for easy pouring, no matter the beverage. I find that having all the drinks on the table also helps people stay there longer, chatting once the food is gone.

Color is essential.tableware sets

Accessorize your French ceramics to truly bring Provence home. Flowers are an ideal addition to the table; use a small rustic vase for more country charm. Colorful napkins, placemats, or tablecloths are also great for pulling a table together. Don’t try too hard to match, but do keep your colors in a similar tonal range for best results.

Now that your tableware set is ready and your decorative dinner plates filled, it’s time to enjoy the best part of any French-inspired meal: the company around you. Bon appétit!

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We’re Ready for Summer Entertaining with Mexican Serving Dishes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Set a Rustic Tuscan Table with Ceramic Pitchers and Other Essentials

The charm of a rustic Italian table is unparalleled. Pitchers filled with wines and water are scattered to ensure everyone has plenty to drink. Platters piled with homemade delicacies are passed, then passed again. Exposed wood, ironwork, and handmade Italian ceramics all work together to enhance the flavors and experience.

Want to translate the homey, inviting feel of a Tuscan table to your home? Italian country décor invokes the same materials as Tuscany: large hand painted plates, ceramic salad bowls, Tuscan vases, wrought iron, glass bottles, and natural colors. Now you’re ready to invite over friends and family to feast the night away.

One of the easiest ways to get a Tuscan feel to your table is using ceramic pitchers. The thick clay keeps drinks cool in the summer and makes it easy to pour just one more glass of wine. Detailed patterns also make it easy to distinguish white wine from red wine, or adult beverages from those that are kid-friendly. A ceramic pitcher filled with wildflowers also makes for a great centerpiece, lending casual elegance to your table.

Sturdy serving pieces are also an essential for Italian country dining. A ceramic salad bowl large enough to toss greens for your entire group could also be used for a fragrant pasta dish. Platters stacked with cuts of meat or appetizing vegetables beg to be passed until diners can eat no more. Little bowls filled with sauces compliment everyone’s hand painted plates, large enough to comfortably fit a little bit of everything while adding a festive note to the table.

To feel truly like you’re in Tuscany, look for a wide-planked wooden table built to withstand the feasting of generations. If you’re satisfied with your current eating surface, a handmade tablecloth will transform it for your Italian feast; look for shades of orange and gold to compliment darker dishware. Add a Tuscan vase on the sideboard, some candles in rustic holders, and you’ll have the feel of Italy without getting on a plane. Buon appetito!

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Making Handmade Mexican Pottery Truly Your Own

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

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

gorky pottery

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

dinner plate

red plate

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

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

gogo_mugs_plates_bowls

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

gogo_mugs_plates

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The Staying Power of Fine Italian Ceramics, Past and Present

Fine Italian ceramics are nothing new. Dating back to the Middle Ages and beginning to flourish in the 1400s, the ceramic centers of Italy have been producing incredibly detailed ceramics for literally hundreds of years. I recently came across a little book discussing Italian and other European ceramics throughout history – Maiolica, Delft and Faïence by Giuseppe Scavizzi – and wanted to share some of its beautiful images with you. Just look at the inside of this “loving cup” from circa 1500 Faenza, used to celebrate engagements or as a gift for a beloved:

fine Italian ceramic loving cup

The detailed likeness is strikingly similar to work by Tuscia d’Arte, such as this Italian canister.

Italian canister

Another timeless piece is this plate of a solider from circa 1630:

Italian soldier plate

He looks so jaunty, reminding me of this contemporary Italian ceramic plate with a drummer at its center.

Italian ceramic plate

Italian ceramicsOne of the amazing things about hand painted Italian pottery is that patterns and techniques have been passed down through generations. Artists today hand paint using the same process as those centuries ago, following traditional patterns as well as adding some contemporary touches. Historically important areas for Italian ceramics have stayed pretty constant throughout the years, many of them in the center of Italy. One is Montelupo Fiorentino, outside of Florence in Tuscany. It’s where I get the fine Italian ceramics for the Emilia Ceramics collection. In a few months I plan to travel to Italy to visit both Tuscia d’Arte and Ceramiche Bartoloni as well as some potential new artists; I can’t wait!

Other famous centers are Deruta, Siena, and Vietri, examples of which are easy to find at Biordi Art Imports, also here in San Francisco. Biordi has a huge selection of typical Italian patterns that go back to the Renaissance; their walls are stuffed with dinnerware, decorative pieces, and exquisite tiles. If you find yourself in North Beach and want to see some Italian ceramics in San Francisco, check Biordi out.

No matter where hand painted Italian pottery comes from, I love how it connects to the artists that create it. Fine Italian ceramics are usually hand signed, a fitting recognition of all the time it takes to paint as well as form these pieces of art. Italian canisters, Italian utensil holders, or dinnerware pieces, these are all ceramics rich in history and tradition that make it easy to bring Italy to your home.Italian hand paintingWhat are your favorite fine Italian ceramics? Any recommendations for places in Italy I should visit this coming summer? Leave a comment and let me know.

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Bartoloni’s Lemons: More than Simply Decorative Plates

Looking for a decorative dinner plate that will bring cheer to your table? With Italian hand painted plates, your search is over. From square limoni plates to large serving platters, the lemon motifs by the Bartoloni brothers are a sure winner for kitchens and dining rooms alike.

lemon decorative plate

There are many factors that make these decorative plates so appealing. The rich colors are one; for example, the cobalt blue background contrasts pleasingly with bright yellows and greens on the blu limoni plates. The bright white of the limoni due square plate is more subtle, but just as vibrant with its two lemons (or limoni due) in the center and aquamarine border along the plate’s edge.

white lemon square plate

The unique rounded square shape also adds character to these Italian hand painted plates. They work well for serving appetizers, desserts, or side dishes with causal elegance. I’ve used them for artisanal meats and cheeses at dinner parties as well as delicate French macarons. No matter what they serve, these plates empty quickly – I think it’s because they make food look so delicious!Italian hand painted plates

Of course, hand painted dinner plates also appeal because of the human touch in their creation. Hand painting means that no two plates are exactly alike. The individual brush strokes, incredible detailing, and overall liveliness make for useful and usable works of art. For this reason lots of people like to hang the blu limoni plate as a wall decoration when not using it to serve. It’s just too vibrant to hide away in a cabinet.

Ceramiche Bartoloni’s lemons grace more than just plates, with mugs, pitchers, soap dishes, and spoon rests that continue the theme. Whether used as an accent or a central motif, these lemon plates are the perfect way to brighten a room with a touch of Tuscan charm.

lemon muglemon pitcher

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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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Rooster Ceramics from Around the World

What’s a motif you’ll find on ceramics almost anywhere in the world? Flowers are a good guess, as are geometric and abstract designs. But there’s another favorite design that might surprise you: rooster ceramics. From Mexico to France and Italy, proud roosters and sometimes chickens grace a variety of ceramics, both decorative and functional.

Italian roosters are probably the most refined of the bunch. Painstakingly detailed with realistic coloring, the Italian rooster pitcher by Ceramiche Bartoloni is a typical example of this rooster type.

Italian rooster pitcher

Even though this rooster looks almost the same on their rooster serving dishes and platter, the hand painting gives each piece a unique attitude with variations in the comb and waddle.rooster bowl

Mexican roosters, in contrast, are more fanciful than their Italian ceramic counterparts. Gorky Gonzalez’s colorful rooster plate is similar to the Italian rooster in details, but feels more like a watercolor sketch, with looser lines (though still definitely proud and tall!).

rooster plate

Then there are blue and white rooster plates, like this octagonal serving dish, which showcase a monochromatic bird on the strut.

blue and white rooster ceramic

Gorky’s three-dimensional rooster ceramics are definitely an excellent mix of fun and realism. The large blue and white rooster sits proudly on a shelf or countertop, and the rooster pitchers and creamers add whimsy and color to the table. Unlike the standard color palette of Italian roosters, these Mexican pieces often have a completely different color combination, making each rooster ceramic totally unique.

Rooster Creamers at Emilia Ceramics

In France, roosters are a mix of refined detail and playful whimsy. Quimper ceramics offer excellent examples of roosters, often in blue. “Le coq gaulois” is an important French symbol that dates back to Roman times and is used today as a sport mascot for French soccer and rugby teams. Some good examples of Quimper rooster plates can be found here and sculptural pieces here. French roosters are fighters and it shows, like in the proud rooster strutting below.

Choisy rooster

What are your favorite rooster ceramics? Are you a fan of chicken décor in general? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Crowing rooster image courtesy of hans s.

French rooster plate image courtesy of Patrick.charpiat.

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On Trend: Polka Dots in Home Decor and Fashion

polka dot ceramics

2013 is the year of many things, and one of them is polka dots, according to sources like Apartment Therapy and Marie Claire. Home décor like polka dot wallpaper, dishes, paintings, and bedding enlivens any room while clothing from dresses to bracelets get an injection of fun with this lively print. Whether clusters of dizzying dots or just a smatter of pattern, here are ways polka dots are trending right now:

Polka dot walls. Polka dot wallpaper seems to be everywhere, from small dots to large. Small black and white dots really pop with bright green, blue or pink accents. Another route is to apply big polka dot decals to one wall – I think this look is great for a stylish kids’ room or home office.

Polka dot bedding and cushions. I’ve been pinning this kind of polka dots for months. Comforter covers, sheets, throws, and pillows are all getting in the act with ikat dots or random clusters of different colors. These textiles are an easy way to update your living room or bedroom without being overwhelming.

Polka dot home accessories. Rugs, light fixtures, curtains, even dressers are getting the dot treatment. Adding dots to a sideboard refreshes your dining room or entryway. Not ready to fully commit to dots yet? Add a graphic polka dot print or piece of art to a wall and see how you like it.

Polka dot dishes. Polka dot bowls and mugs are an easy way to bring this lively pattern into your dishware collection. I love the palette of Richard Esteban’s reds, yellows, and blues for his polka dot bowls, mugs, platters, pitchers, and plates.

 

Polka dot fashion. You can get almost anything in polka dots from shoes to headbands this season. Some bold fashionistas are mixing multiple polka dot pieces (stick to the same color palette to keep from looking too busy), while others of us feel more comfortable simply adding a polka dot scarf, skirt, or clutch to their ensemble.

What do you think of polka dots? Do you prefer big polka dots or small? What’s your favorite polka dot piece? Check out our Pinterest polka dot board for more ideas, and leave a comment here to let us know your favorite polka dots in home decor.

Polka dot curtain image via Houzz.

Dancer image courtesy of davidrush.