Thursday, July 16, 2009

Odi et Amo Discount: Emilia Ceramics

Today, I'm thrilled to share with you all an interview with Emily Brown, the owner of one of my favorite online stores, Emilia Ceramics, which offers unique, beautiful ceramics handcrafted by artisans in Italy and Mexico. Not only though has Emily been gracious enough to offer me the opportunity to chat with her, but she's also extending a great discount offer to Odi et Amo readers. From now through July 31, you can receive 20% off the purchase of any product in the Vázquez collection (a small sample of which is shown above). Prices on pieces in the collection range from $18 (for the small jewelry boxes) to $185 (for the lamps). To take advantage of this great offer, simply enter the discount code "odietamo" at checkout.

OetA: How do you decide what to buy for your store?

Emily: A lot of my decision of what to buy is made because of the artists themselves -- and I work solely with artists who create and paint every piece by hand, have small-scale productions, and export minimally. I'm not just selling vases and lamps and bowls, I'm supporting and promoting these artists [and] helping their beautiful work to be discovered. So I choose to work with people I really genuinely like. Not only can I feel good about helping them, it also makes it a lot more fun to call them, email them, and visit them. It was later that I learned that Vázquez is a 4th generation family-run business and that its founder wanted to push the envelope on traditional ceramic design. I think that founding idea is still reflected in their work. I love the way they put a contemporary and fun twist on traditional patterns - using bold colors and unique designs to combine authentic Mexican flavor with modern sophistication.

OetA: What's the process for creating one of these pieces?

All of the ceramics I sell are majolica, which is a ceramic technique in which earthenware is covered with an opaque glaze of tin oxide and then decorated with all-natural mineral-based pigments. Arabs invented the process in the 6th century, when they discovered that glazing ceramics with a mineral oxide mixture and firing them twice, made them stronger and more water-resistant. The earthenware clay is first bisque fired at around 1900° F. It is then painted or dipped in a creamy, oatmeal-colored glaze, made from silica, tin, calcium, and clay. Once dry, artists paint designs over this base glaze with pigments made from minerals. The pigments are absorbed into the base glaze, which is a porous surface similar to watercolor paper. Just like with watercolor, once applied, the pigments cannot be covered over or blended together, meaning there is no margin for error. When the piece is fired again at a higher temperature, the glaze melts and fuses with the pigments. Because the end result is a product of chemical reactions between metal oxide colors, the glaze, and a precise firing temperature, it often takes the artist many trials before a new design is perfected. While extremely time consuming and difficult, this process is what gives completed Majolica a distinctively warm look and feel. That’s because instead of the color lying under a clear surface, the color is actually in the glaze and of the glaze. Sometimes referred to as “fat glaze,” the result is more luscious and vivid. It’s what draws us to Majolica, both visually and physically – making it difficult not to reach out and touch the surface of a beautifully glazed pitcher or bowl.

Talavera Vazquez Black Tibors (aka Ginger Jars)

OetA: Tell me a little bit about the Talavera Vázquez collection. How did you come across it?

Emily: Talavera Vázquez is a family-run business in the town of Dolores Hidalgo (in the Mexican state of Guanajuato). The town itself is famous for ceramics made in the "talavera" style (which actually originated in the Spanish town of Talavera de la Reina, outside of Madrid). I visited Dolores Hidalgo because of its reputation for pottery, but I really didn't know what to expect. There are tons of workshops there, mostly creating very standard Mexican pottery -- none of which got me very excited. Then I came across Talavera Vázquez. Their beautifully-painted and creatively-designed pieces totally stood out. When I started talking to the woman working there, I was sold -- I quickly realized I would love working with them. I bought a lot from them that day and have repurchased 3 or 4 times since. I went back to visit a second time this spring and once again was astounded with the array of original designs and styles in their collection. It's definitely one of my favorite working relationships.

OetA: What are some of your favorite pieces from the collection?

Emily: My favorite pieces are the lamps, especially the zig-zag ones. When I'm shopping for pottery in Mexico I stay at a friend's beautiful house in San Miguel. She has lamps like these all over the house and they create such a warm, truly authentic vibe that is pure Mexico. When I look at these lamps my mind goes automatically to fresh margaritas and pico de gallo. I love them for their hacienda charm, but also because I believe they fit really well in contemporary homes that are not hacienda-style. My second favorite is the Burnt Orange Striped Vase.

Thanks Emily for taking the time to share with me a little bit about some of your amazing ceramics and for extending such a generous discount to Odi et Amo readers. As for me, you better believe I'll be purchasing two Olas Tibors I'd been eyeing for my new dining room!


Anonymous said...

Averill, thank you for letting us know about these! Checked out their site and love so many things but of course, surprise!, my favorites are the black and white. Love the black and white zig zag lamp as well as the other zig zag and striped pieces.

Beth Connolly said...

My two favorites are the stripes and the zig-zags. Very Madeline Weinrib.

Jody Harrington said...

You know how I love Mexican pottery and these are wonderful! On my way to her site now....

Jody Harrington said...

Just ordered the large Pavor Real and Pluma Tabors--won't they look great on my mantel!!

Averill said...

QG: Perfecto! I thought you'd enjoy this one.... :)

Christy said...

Ooh I love all of these items - so pretty! I can't wait to see yours in your dining room, right? Great interview Averill! And thanks for the poll help this morning!

Liz said...

Wow, what beautiful ceramics!! And your interview was great, how cool and unusual that Emily has a personal relationship with all of the artists. I'm in love with the candle holders, too - you know this girl can't resist a little color!!

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I think they are very tasteful vases and pretty, with colors that stand out!

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