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Your Favorite Ginger Jars From Around the World

ginger jars

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

ginger jars

Mexican Ginger Jars

black and white ginger jar - extra large

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

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

Italian Ginger Jars

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

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Spanish Ginger Jars

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

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Where do your favorite ginger jars come from?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

black and white prints

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

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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.

chalk white pitcher

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

blue and white planter

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

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The Guide to Going “Off Registry”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why are Ginger Jars so Popular as Decor?

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

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

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

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

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

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Entertaining with Originality

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

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

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

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Finding New Ceramic Wall Plates and Pottery Dishes in Mexico

I’ve been in Mexico visiting artists like Gorky Gonzalez and can’t get enough of the sun, the food, the… roosters. From ceramic dishes to the blue and white rooster that stand alone, I’ve seen roosters (and other fowl) everywhere.

But it doesn’t end with blue and white rooster plates; that’s just the beginning. New triple dishes feature hummingbirds and roosters to join the cactus, palm tree, and fish motifs already in my Gorky collection. I love these ceramic dishes because they’re so versatile: good for dips, condiments, olives, or nuts, they also function as a place to keep jewelry, keys, or the contents of your pockets (no more lost wallets and phones for you!). With both double and triple ceramic dishes, use a variety to add spice to your next fiesta.

With the new black rooster plates from Italy, I’ve been struck at the global nature of animal motifs in ceramic wall art. Chickens, frogs, fish, and flamingos join butterflies (like the pottery dishes by Angélica Escarcega), flowers, and people for quirky and lively decorative plates and bowls. Visiting the artists let’s me not only stock up on popular pieces (like those fun salt and pepper shakers) but also see new ideas from ceramic wall plates to tibors (ginger jars). One of my favorite things is seeing the painted but unfired pottery dishes – the kiln totally transforms them from pale, flat ceramics into the glossy, touchable pieces we all love.

Watching the artists paint every piece is also incredible. Whether it’s geometric patterns or those blue and white roosters, plates, bowls, trays, and other dishes come alive with every brush stroke.

Whether you prefer monochrome or full color decorative plates, look for new arrivals from Gorky, Angélica, Capelo, and Talavera Vazquez in the next few months. There’ll be some old favorites and some new surprises with ceramic dishes that are truly works of art.

Want to see more of my Mexico adventures? “Like” Emilia Ceramics on Facebook for photos and updates.

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Stay Tuned for New Ginger Jars Coming Soon!

Ginger jars are everywhere now and it’s not hard to see why. Called tibores in Mexico and sometimes referred to as urns in the U.S., these traditional ceramics are a stylish way to add visual interest to any space. The ginger jars by Talavera Vazquez are so popular that I’m often afraid of running out of stock. With the graphic stripes and zig zag chevrons, these are definitely pieces that look good in a variety of spaces.

Emilia Ceramics ginger jars are so popular, in fact, that I’m working with Talavera Vazquez to introduce some new colors (coming soon to the website). Look for neutral tones like gray and yellow zig-zags to join the existing cobalt blue, black, and burnt orange. I cannot wait to see the new ginger jars myself, let alone offer them to my customers in a wider color range.

Talking with the artists, I was reminded of when we began to work together to make the ginger jar table lamps. These bold ceramics are extremely popular and I think it’s because ginger jar table lamps combine style with function in an original way.

One of my favorite things about these pieces are how customizable they are. A blue and white ceramic lamp takes on a new look when paired with a large blue or small white shade (or anything in between). The shade brings personal style to the ceramic and makes for a truly personal statement.

The different patterns on these ginger jar lamps also create a variety of effects. The striking chevrons of this blue and white ginger jar lamp are bold and eye-catching. The blue and white striped ceramic lamp makes a softer graphic statement while smaller blue and white ginger jar lamp features organic motifs and a playful feel. Same color combination, three totally different blue and white ginger jar lamps that all bring sophistication to your home.

I love all the flexibility and fun that ginger jars and ginger jar lamps represent, whether it’s flanking a staircase, acting as a bedside lamp, or making a statement on the patio. So here’s to the new Vazquez ginger jar collection… coming soon!

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Chevrons and Zig Zags: Designs with Staying Power

Lilies on Chevron
Bold, graphic, and classy, the zig zag pattern and chevron craze is definitely not just a 2011 phenomenon. From shower curtains to rugs, and pillows to chevron ceramics, (like lamps and flower vases), there are many ways to incorporate this great print into your life and home in a way that doesn’t feel trendy. Here are some of my favorites:

Chevrons in your hands: The many iPhone cases out there are truly staggering, but these great zig zag, stripe, and other patterned cases featured on Look Linger Love are a class above. You can even get them personalized! How’s that for stylish and unique?

Zig Zags on the wall: I saw this clever chevron wall treatment featured on Made By Girl as Jen transitions to apartment living. Even if it’s a rental, why not invest in a statement with great wallpaper (there are so many removable options on the market now) or a stunning accent wall? Green Your Decor has a fabulous list of other places to make chevrons vertical: curtains, shower curtains, and even paintings are flexible ways to enliven a space large or small.

Chevrons good enough to eat: That’s right, edible zig zags are here. This pattern looks stunning on a modern wedding cake by My Sweet and Saucy. The grey on white is subtle, the overall effect clean.

Illuminating zig zags: Why let the walls have all the fun? A zig zag ceramic table lamp, like this black and white lamp by Talavera Vazquez, is a fun and practical piece. Whether by the bed or in the living room, you’ll literally enlighten your current décor. If chevrons are too much, try a striped ceramic table lamp or a patterned blue and white lamp.

DIY chevrons: My newest blog discovery, The House of the Smiths has a lot of great DIY tutorials, and I love this one about making a chevron rug perfect for spring. Who knew zig zags could be “beachy”?! Like to knit? This Missoni-inspired chevron pattern by Zakka Life is fun for a scarf or blanket. With a stencil or tape, you can make almost anything chevron.

Zig zag patterned home décor: Whether a large blue zig zag ginger jar or chevron blue vase, I love combining the boldness of zig zags with the subtlety of blue and white. Chevron pillows, chairs, and rugs represent great textile versions of this combination, like these examples by Platinum Blonde Life. Chevron tall vases, zig zag wine bottle holders, ceramic canisters, and even planters are all ways big and small to join the fun.

What’s your favorite way to use chevron or zig zag patterns? Leave a comment and let us know.

Yellow chevron image courtesy of maureen lunn.

iPhone case image courtesy of Look Linger Love.

Chevron cake image courtesy of My Sweet and Saucy.

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Ginger Jar Lamps: Illuminating Design and Functionality

Ginger jars are a decorating staple I’m seeing in more and more chic interiors. Great lines and a definite presence along with the wide variety of designs and bold colors makes ginger jars (known as tibores in Mexico) perfect for a console table, shelf, or even flanking entryways and staircases. The Pajaro Tibor, an extra large ginger jar by Talavera Vazquez is particularly striking on a patio — adding instant and festive flair.

But sometimes you need pieces that are both functional and beautiful, like ginger jar table lamps. Bold and bright, ceramic ginger jar lamps literally light up a room. It’s no surprise that people are talking about how much they love them. To The Tens mentioned ceramic ginger jar lamps in a recent post as a great accent or gift (for a hostess or yourself) and I couldn’t agree more. Fun and functional, ginger jar table lamps help make a room feel cozy with accent lighting that creates depth and warmth perfect for a living room or bedroom.

The current trend is a pair of ginger jar lamps flanking a bed. I got an email from Carol, a customer in Kentucky, who got a pair of the burnt orange zigzag lamps. “They are just beautiful. I e-mailed a picture to Krisia, my architect. She said, ‘They make me happy, do they make you happy?’ … We are all about fun, and we’re having it, for sure.”

There’s nothing better than hearing from people who love their ceramics enough to write and tell me about it! I love the idea of helping people make their homes truly their own.

Want some more reasons to add a ginger jar lamp (or two) to your home? Try the Las Flores lamp for festive yet relaxed sophistication. This ceramic ginger jar lamp with its blue and white is popular for living rooms: its charm is hard to beat, particularly on a stylish side table.

Size matters too, so if regular ginger jar table lamps are too big for your space, try a small blue and white ginger jar lamp instead. Same design power, smaller footprint in your decor. Don’t forget to top off ginger jar lamps with a stylish shade that compliments your style as well as the lamp itself. With so many different colors and designs, here’s to seeing more and more ginger jar lamps in 2012.

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Blog Round Up: Ginger Jars

Why do so many people love ginger jars? Also called a ceramic urn or tibor (in Spanish), these timeless vessels have definitely been making a splash in the decorating world lately. I love the versatility of ginger jars with a lid when it comes to decorating possibilities: take off the lid and it’s a vase for a stunning bouquet; put the lid back on and it looks perfect on a shelf, end table, or in a favorite nook.

But I’m not the only one who loves ginger jars. Perusing recent posts on design blogs, I’m amazed how many people are talking about ginger jars — from antique Chinese ginger jars to modern tibores by Talavera Vazquez. Here’s a quick roundup of great ginger jar finds; it’s fantastic how they can really work with so many different kinds of home décor. What’s your favorite?

Color. Curated by Color and Love Design are into blue and white. Cooper Grey loves the striking qualities of black and white. Both these combinations feel clean and fresh, no matter the setting from living room to bathroom, entryway to kitchen (or even on the patio). Blue and white can be nautical or sophisticated, black and white minimalist or causal, and ginger jars blend into both of these arresting color schemes easily.

Shape. Is there a difference between temple jars or ginger jars? Houzz explains the subtle difference in these shapes as well as their various uses. What we often call ginger jars have been used to keep the ashes of loved ones, ginger, salt, and other spices. Seaside Style talks about her mother’s collection that started her own obsession with traditional ginger jars. She’s mixed a Chinese ginger jar with seashore-inspired accents as well as more modern piece with antique furniture. I’d also agree with Dressing Rooms about the “timeless elegance” of ginger jars both old and new.

Graphics. Stripes, zig-zags, chevrons, and other organic inspired designs makes for ginger jars that feel modern yet not too edgy or minimalist. Shop Sweet Things loves the variety of patterns available in modern ginger jars. California Home and Design adores chevrons and mentions pottery ginger jars as an easy way to incorporate this pattern into your home without being overwhelming. And Jen Ramos of Made By Girl keeps one on her office bookshelf as a stylish graphic counterpoint to her collection of bookends, vases, and other great art work. So many uses for ginger jars, so little time!

Look for more blog roundups as we finish up 2011, definitely a year of great design.

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Feliz Día de los Muertos!

I love visiting Mexico. The people are so friendly, the food is delicious, I get to use my Spanish, and on top of all that, I can see Mexican artists make ceramics, weave all manner of gorgeous cloth, work metal or leather, and create other beautiful traditional crafts. With Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) starting today, my mind is wandering both to Mexico and my favorite Mexican artists — Talavera Vazquez, Gorky González, Capelo, and Angélica Escarcega. I have heard so much about the colorful festivities surrounding Day of the Dead and have always wanted to experience the nation-wide celebration in person!

What is the Day of the Dead exactly? First off, it’s actually two days (November 1 and 2) during which people remember and celebrate ancestors and friends who have passed away. This celebration has roots in Aztec, Purepechas, and Totonacs traditions as well as the Catholic practice of All Souls Day. People visit their relatives’ graves on the first day, decorating them with flowers and candles. It’s a sort of picnic in the cemetery, with friends and family sharing stories about their loved ones buried there. It’s a celebration of the dead, as well as a celebration of the community they helped create.

These graveside picnics usually feature tamales and pan de muerto, a special bread. Bakers hide a toy skeleton inside (usually plastic) and it’s good luck if you bite into it. Sweets are another important tradition, with cookies, chocolate and sugar skulls. By biting into the skull shapes, people symbolically “take a bite of death” and inoculate themselves against the fear of death.

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

While I won’t be in Mexico to celebrate the Day of the Dead this year, I will be surrounded by the festive pottery of Talavera Vazquez. I’m especially inspired to bring out my Vazquez pottery this time of year — the bold beauty reflects traditional Mexican decorations and the bright colors evoke the change of seasons. While you might decorate for many different fall events (Halloween, the Day of the Dead, and Thanksgiving come to mind), putting Mexican artist ceramics like a Vazquez pottery vase or ginger jar into the mix makes for the perfect fall touch. Felicidades!

Day of the Dead altar image courtesy of Ute Hagen.

Candy skulls image courtesy of Glen Van Etten.

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The Allure of Gorky Gonzalez Pottery

Packing boxes as I prepare to head to France for my buying trip this month, I’ve found myself handling a lot of Gorky Gonzalez pottery. I love the mix of fun and technical sophistication that’s a Gorky pottery trademark. Each piece combines elements from Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and Indigenous-Mexican cultures, giving it a unique depth and character. When it comes to Mexican artist ceramics, Gorky Gonzalez pottery has a richer and more compelling story than any I know.

In fact, I think what really draws people to Gorky pottery is its fusion of modern accents with traditional motifs. Dishware is an easy way to brighten every day, particularly if it’s something fun and playful like the La Mexicana motif. With vibrant leaves, bright fruits, and an inherent dynamism, these pieces are some of my favorites in the Gorky Gonzalez pottery collection.

From salad plates to mixing bowls, serving platters to tibores (or ginger jars), you can create an entire set in this motif alone.

But why stop there? The beauty of handmade pottery is layering pieces to reflect your own style, and Gorky’s patterns and colors are meant to be mixed, adding depth to the table and home. That’s one of the reasons ceramics make such good gifts – they add dimension and a note of pizazz where it’s least expected. Mixing a motif with solid colored pieces is easy to do with Gorky pottery, particularly with its wide array of platters, dishes, bowls, and mugs.

Take the Amor Platter, one of my most popular pieces. The not-quite-oval, not-quite-rectangular shape makes it versatile enough to serve appetizers or use as a centerpiece on the table. Its central depiction focuses on love, something that never goes out of style. Unsurprisingly, this piece is a popular gift for engagements, weddings, and anniversaries, adding an original and festive note to the theme of love. Like the idea? Check out the Amor octagonal serving dish and oval serving dish, other beautiful examples of the traditional couple design with a variety of functions. No matter if it’s a gift for yourself or someone else, you’re certain to enjoy these distinctive pieces of Gorky Gonzalez pottery for years to come.

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Quick Design Tips: Bold Stripes, Prints, and Chevron Patterns

From chevrons to zebra prints and paisley to checks, bold patterns are definitely making a splash these days in home design. It is not surprising that these fun patterns have become the most popular among the Emilia Ceramics collection — they are everywhere! Curious about incorporating bold patterns and shapes into your home? Here are three suggestions of ways to add a bit more punch to your current design aesthetic.

Chevrons

Their are many different ways to bring the graphic zigzag quality of a chevron pattern into your home design. In fact, here’s a great list of ideas I just found. Subtle touches such as tile or wood flooring give a bit more visual depth to any space, but aren’t overwhelming. But if you’re looking to fully embrace the audacious possibilities of chevron patterns, there’s nothing like a bold zigzag ginger jar or vase to liven up your dining room, kitchen or workspace. Blogger Jen Ramos bought the black and white zigzag tibor a while back and keeps it displayed on a bookshelf next to her desk.  I think it creates the perfect contrast with her books, magazines and other unique artwork. Another look I love is this one in my friend’s living room (photo on right). She has combined the striking burnt orange zigzag ginger jar with a matching striped vase to create an eye-pleasing focal point amidst rich solid colors.

Stripes

Horizontal, vertical, or diagonal, there are endless possibilities when it comes to decorating with stripes. Thick and thin stripes add visual interest to a wall (paint them using chalk lines and tape for crisp edges), either in contrasting colors or in subtle tones of the same hue. Stripes also make for a classy accent; look for pillows and rugs with wide bands or discreet pin striping.

With my new arrivals from Talavera Vazquez unpacked, I’m more into stripes than ever… striped vases of all sizes, striped coffee mugs, striped wine bottle holders, striped planters, and striped ginger jars… I can’t get enough of these stripes! The best part about these pieces is that they go with everything but have enough personality not to fade into the background and be overlooked.

Prints

Leopard print, polka dots, fleur de lis… there are more patterns and motifs out there than I have space to name. For an extreme example, check out this room that combines a blue zebra print rug, palm tree wallpaper, and floral patterned drapes. It is at once overwhelming and arresting. When playing with patterns, staying in the same color is key to preventing a cluttered or messy effect. Blue and white is a subtle color combination, enabling a mixture of patterns, textures, and styles to coexist with ease. For example, adding one of our large blue and white ginger jars to an already blue-themed entryway or living room makes a strong, yet stylish statement.

Layering prints is a great way to make a personal statement, but don’t forget to add some solids to the mix to give visual anchors to a room. So go ahead and take the plunge… you might be pleasantly surprised by a little decoration daring!

Chevron image courtesy of Steve & Jemma Copley.

Print image courtesy of Douglas LeMoine.

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Mata Ortiz Pots: What’s the Story behind this Phenomenon?

When a friend said I’d like Marta Ortiz pottery, I assumed it was an artist’s name. Google, however, proved my assumptions (and spelling) wrong. Mata Ortiz (not Marta Ortiz) pottery is a unique art form from a small village of that name in Mexico. Here a revival of an ancient art form has transformed a community and truly enriched contemporary art.

This pottery sensation began when Juan Quezada found pieces of ancient Casas Grandes pottery in the nearby ruins of Paquimé. The form and designs intrigued him so much he began experimenting to see if he could discover how to make this exceptional pottery. Using local clay and trying different techniques with ash, firing, and formation, these pots are made without a potter’s wheel. Instead, they are hand built using a traditional coiling method that is then burnished, sanded down, and painted with natural pigments. Every step relies on what is readily available, from the hair used for the brushes to the cow manure and wood that provide fuel for the firing. It took Juan at least 16 years to get each step right, and he still experiments to this day with techniques and forms.

So how did Mata Ortiz pots find international acclaim? In the mid 1970s anthropologist Spencer MacCallum found some pots in a store in Deming, New Mexico. Their design and quality struck him, but the owner didn’t know who had made them. So Spencer set out to find the potter and ended up meeting Juan Quezada and his family in Mata Ortiz. A partnership was struck and slowly but surely a market built up for these truly one of a kind creations, revitalizing the village as more and more residents became potters in this impressive tradition.

Today there are tons of dealers and galleries for Mata Ortiz pots, both in and out of Mexico. Because the pieces are one-of-a-kind, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what you are going to get though when buying from a dealer online.

For my own collection, I tend to be more drawn to ceramic artwork that is functional.  As much as I love the organic, swooping forms of Mata Ortiz pottery, as well as the history and elaborate process behind it, it’s not very practical for daily usage.

It is the convergence of local tradition, innovation, and functionality that continues to draw me to the work by Talavera Vázquez. This 4th generation, family-run studio in Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico, experiments with forms and traditional designs to make contemporary, beautiful pieces that are truly sophisticated. A lamp or vase adds authentic Mexican flavor to any room, but does it in a functional way. I also love their small pieces like candle holders, tissue boxes, and spoon rests that offer handmade Mexican artistry that is actually useful… making it an easy way to incorporate unique ceramics into your everyday life.

Mata Ortiz pot images courtesy of Ant Ware.

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Blue and White Ceramic: What’s the Secret to This Gorgeous Combination?

Blue sky, white sand… can you hear the seaside calling your name? Beyond the image of a peaceful beach scene, there is just something about blue and white that seems to enliven all our senses.

A long time favorite of decorators, these colors can invoke everything from high class nobility (think Wedgwood china and French chateaux) to the causal allure of a coastal Mediterranean town (Aegean sea and Greek fishermen). It looks clean and crisp, refined and relaxing – no wonder so many modern designers and decorators reach for it! My personal favorite blue is a rich cobalt, though the range from deep navy to a powder or pale blue makes this combination fit almost any decorating scheme.

And how better to finish off your theme than with blue and white ceramic accents? The color combination is so popular within my collection that I’ve made it into its own category. Beyond the basic cups and plates, here are a few creative ways to express your love of blue and white:

Blue and White Bowls

Channel rustic simplicity with a blue prep bowl that makes pouring anything from batter to eggs a snap. A large salad looks fresher than ever when served from this vibrant Talavera bowl. Whether you like your blue and white bowls deep or shallow, in use on the table or decorating the walls, they’ll add a breath of fresh air to your home.

Blue and White Ginger Jar

I keep talking about ginger jars because I can’t get enough of them and neither can my customers! Blue and white stripes, chevron patterns, or other intricate stylized motifs ensure these Mexican staples will fit into any décor, inside or out. I think they look great as a pair flanking a door or perhaps one blue and white ginger jar as a hallway accent. Take off the top and your have a vase suitable for a bold flower arrangement. The variety of sizes means a blue and white ginger jar can fit in any room, from cozy to grand scale.

Blue and White Planter

It’s planting season, so give your plants a splash of style with a spacious blue and white planter. Stripes make these oval and square pieces truly modern. And a wall planter adds trailing vines or flowers to the wall or balcony. Don’t have a green thumb? A blue and white planter makes a great place to stash your mail, keep fruits, or even use as a trash can.

Beach image courtesy of Ibrahim Iujaz.

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The Best Mexican Pottery: A Checklist for What to Buy

Contemporary, unexpected, modern, colorful – this is what I think of when it comes to buying Mexican pottery. Surprised? The garish stereotypical wares made to sell as souvenirs don’t stir my inner collector. But when it comes to Mexican imports there’s a huge array of exceptional, interesting pieces that I find myself drooling over when visiting artists in their workshops. So what do you need to start buying Mexican pottery yourself?

In terms of design, there are so many more choices than just the rustic or raw, unfinished look. Just look at the range within Talavera ceramics! Two-toned zigzags and stripes create a sleek, modern feel; bold colors and playful motifs add a bit of charm. Feeling more simplistic or just not into patterns? Solid color pieces accent any collection, from plates to planters.

Sometimes my customers are overwhelmed by the vibrant quality of Mexican import pottery. Remember: a little can go a long way. So why not start with a special platter or a few mugs to see how pieces can lift both your mood and the ambiance of your home?

Besides looking at how to choose the best handmade ceramics, be careful when buying pieces you intend to use for food. Verify that they have met FDA standards and are lead free. Even if a ceramic piece is dishwasher or microwave safe, try to use lower heat settings to prolong their life. They’re not just dishes, they’re also artwork.

Ready to start exploring what Mexican pottery you should buy? Here’s a non-exhaustive checklist to get you inspired:

Tibor: The Mexican word for ginger jar or urn shape (above right) is a classic Mexican import. Great for indoor and outdoor decoration, the tibor combines modern design with authentic Mexican charm and comes in various sizes. We liked them so much that we made them into lamps (above left), giving the tibor a more practical touch.

Vases: Don’t stop with the tibor, other vase shapes, from a large statement piece to a small touch of color, add instant artistic appeal to your home.

Candle holders & Tablewares: Both practical and decorative, these add flare to any table setting. Salt and pepper shakers never looked so good, especially by the soft glow of candlelight.
Dishes: For platters and plates, the various shapes and types of Mexican pottery make them ideal for serving and enjoying everything from tapas to main courses.

Drinkware: When you discover a handmade Mexican mug or cup and saucer that is beautifully crafted and lovingly painted, your coffee or tea really does taste better.

Bowls: Again, the range here goes from little bowls perfect for a tasty dessert to a huge salad bowl fit for a fiesta. I like to fill my soup bowls with pazole, but what’s your favorite?

Planters: Inside or out, give your plants a stylish home that keeps them moist and protected. Whether that means a pot on the patio or a single flower in the kitchen, you’ll smile every time you look at your plants.