What Is Unique About Polish Pottery?

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Polish pottery is one of the finest potteries and it makes the perfect kitchenware and decorating piece for any home. You can easily add a pop of color to your table décor with its vibrant colors. Artisans in Boleslawiec, Poland have been creating beautiful and functional folk art pottery for centuries, but what really makes Polish pottery so unique?

How It’s Made

Polish pottery is made with high quality white clay. The pottery is hand-formed or made from molds then hand-painted using carved sponges and fine brushwork. No two items will ever be alike. This unique clay and glaze are then high-fired to create stoneware pieces of enormous durability which are resistant to chips and breakage. Polish pottery is naturally non-stick because it is coated with a protective glaze. This stoneware does not contain cadmium or lead which makes it completely safe for cooking food. Because of its high durability, Polish pottery is microwave, dishwasher, freezer, and oven safe.

How It’s Designed and Decorated

The decoration of Boleslawiec ceramics have been greatly influenced by the color blue, which is a desirable color because it is consider precious and expensive. Blue is associated with beauty, which gave Poland its start.

Each piece of pottery is decorated through hand-painting and stamping with carved sea sponges. The design is strikingly original and detailed. Overall, the design and decoration of Polish pottery enhances its beauty and value.

How Polish Pottery Is Used

Polish pottery is commonly represented in the form of dinnerware, serving ware, and mugs. However, Polish pottery artisans have created pieces that will make a perfect accent to your home. They have creations of Halloween Jack O’Lanterns, Christmas ornaments, figurines, luminaries, and Easter eggs. These decorative pieces will reflect a truly distinctive style to every room in your home.

How To Care For It

Since Polish pottery is so skillfully handcrafted, it can last for many years if cared for correctly. Even though these pieces are very durable and can be used every day, they are still pottery. They need to be cared for when adjusting to temperatures right out of the fridge or oven. Here are three ways to care for your Polish pottery for lasting enjoyment:

  1. Make sure your pottery dish reaches room temperature before placing it in the microwave oven or on the stovetop.
  2. After removing stoneware from the refrigerator, do not place it on direct heat like in the broiler.
  3. Do not place hot dishes on wet or cold surfaces.

Whether you like to collect Polish pottery or want a unique, yet timeless piece of stoneware, we hope this will give you an inside scoop about the beauty and uniqueness of Polish pottery, and how to treasure it for years to come.

The History of Murano Glass and How It’s Made

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Murano glass is exquisitely beautiful. From jewelry to drinking glasses, there is definitely something for everyone. These handmade treasures are created one at a time. Patterns and colors may vary, and some may or may not contain millefiori accents. The surfaces may appear uneven and they’re also in various shapes. This is what makes glassmaking such a special craft. With hundreds of years of history behind it, explore the history of Murano glass and how it is made.

The History of Murano Glass

The origin of glassmaking goes way back to the times of the Roman Empire when they created molded glass for illumination in their bath houses. As early as the 8th century, the Venetian Islands began to specialize in glassmaking. When a ruling class law was passed to avoid the risk of fire in an overpopulated area, the island of Murano was named as the true and most appropriate glass production area.

Decline and Success

Murano glass had moments of success and gradual decline. Competition increased for them from the glassmakers of France and Bohemia. Rulers in the 18th century preferred their glassmaking in Bohemia and passed laws, making it expensive to bring raw materials into Murano. As a result, half of the furnaces were shut down. Although, the industry in Murano did not die completely, Antonio Salviati, who practiced law, went to Venice to open a factory to produce traditional Murano glass. However, there was still constant fall and rise over the years. For example, during World War II the industry did not thrive, but as soon as the war was over the glassmakers continued creating their art.

The Spread of Murano Glass Tradition

Many craftsmen were inspired by the making of Murano glass. The art of glass spread throughout Europe. Wherever there was a demand for glass, productions were created. Many artisans outside from Murano developed an eye for quality in creating beautiful Murano-style glass. Today, all across Italy and the rest of the world, these workshops use the same techniques and materials as a Murano workshop with identical skill and artistry.

How do they create captivating colors?

Murano glass products are brightly colored and often infused with metals such as gold and silver leaf or copper crystals. When creating millefiori designs, they layer and slice colorful glass rods which stretch into unique designs. For other creations, glassmakers use a blowpipe with which they masterfully shape layers of color to achieve a richly-colored decorative piece.

What are the techniques?

As the techniques of Murano glassmaking have evolved, Murano glass has become a valuable treasure over the years. These glassmakers use unique, masterful techniques to create these amazing pieces. Both lampworking and hand-blowing create beautiful Murano style pieces, which is an incredibly rewarding experience to these artisans.

Lampworking

This technique is also known as torchworking. Artists use high quality glass rods which are melted with a torch and then shaped into beads by cutting it with a steel cutting jack. Once they have the glass bead, it is heated to a temperature of about 950 degree Fahrenheit until the material reaches its stress relief point. The bead is then decorated by etching, polishing, or by other techniques.

Lorena’s mother creates stunning jewelry beads using the technique of lampworking in the video below:

Blowing

Blowing glass is a challenging technique. This technique is done by using a blowpipe and basic hand tools to meticulously shape molten glass. These glassmakers are able to get unique patterns and shapes by blow piping. After the process is complete, the glass needs to cool until it becomes solid glass. The final touch that may be done to a glass piece is polishing, engraving, and enameling.

Our glass Artisan, Vittorio shows his methods on Murano glassmaking.

Annealing

Both techniques use the annealing process, which helps the glass slowly heal until it reaches room temperature. This process prevents the glass from cracking or breaking easily.

Wind Chimes: An Origin Story

Credit: Own work

Historical Timeline

3000 B.C.- Natural wind chimes constructed of shells, stones, bones, wood, and bamboo believed to be from 3000 B.C. were unearthed during archeological digs in Southeast Asia. Because of this discovery, wind chimes are believed to be one of man’s first musical instruments. The wind chimes excavated in Bali, Indonesia are believed to have been used by farmers to scare birds away from crops.

2000 B.C.- Metal wind chimes were created in Mediterranean countries, North Africa, and the Middle East. It is believed that these developed independently without influence from the wind chimes in Asia, which demonstrates the universality of these sweet instruments.

1100 B.C.- Wind chimes with bells were created in China. They were often hung in temples and places of worship, as they delicate pealing of the bells was believed to ward off evil spirits while calling in kind ones. Wind chimes have deep ties to Buddhist culture, and are believed to connect humans more deeply with the higher powers of the universe and act as calls to the gods during prayer.

1800 C.E.- The popularity of wind chimes spread from China to Japan, all across the Eastern world, and then to the West. This trend was called “Japonisme,” which refers to the notable permeation of Asian culture and artistic influence across Europe and the Western world.

1970 C.E.- Precision-tuned wind chimes were first manufactured. The shapes, materials, and artistic processes behind creating these chimes determines the exact sounds of the music they create.

2018 C.E.- Uno Alla Volta’s wind chimes are handmade in the thriving port city of Surat, India, with inspiration and influence drawn from a variety of artistic styles throughout history. The nana bells they often feature are highly characteristic of Indian designs.

Health And Wellness Benefits

Feng-Shui: Wind chimes are believed to balance the energy within a home, as well as have a positive effect on the ambience of a space.

Anti-Anxiety: As with all gentle noises, the soft sounds of wind chimes can have a calming effect on the listener, lessening their symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Fun Facts

-Wind chimes were often hung from trees by Celtic soldiers to scare enemy troops into believing the woods were haunted.

-When hung outdoors, wind chimes can be used as a basic method of meteorology, as changes in their sound patterns indicate changes in wind speeds.

Feeling inspired? Shop Uno Alla Volta’s collection of handmade windchimes here!

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Only The Best

While our artisans create handcrafted treasures for every style and budget, today we’d like to focus on our luxury items for those of you in the mood to spoil yourselves. Handmade by expert craftspeople using only the finest materials available, these treasures have the power to elevate your wardrobe and home from ordinary to extraordinary.

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Dimensional Glass Seascape

With Diane responsible for the exquisite glasswork and Ann taking ownership of the delicate hand-painting, these two work together to create pieces that are so much more than the sum of their parts.

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Orient & Flume Cherry Blossom Vase

This California based studio’s work can be found in the permanent collections of many of the most prestigious museums in the world: The Smithsonian, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Corning Glass Museum, just to name a few.

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Grey & Black Florentine Leather Structured Handbag

Using the masterful leatherworking techniques and exacting standards passed down to them by their ancestors, our artisans skillfully create each bag from the most supple Italian leather.

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Amy Kahn Russell’s Dragonfly Russian Miniature Necklace

Inspired by her blend of cultural heritages and nature’s beauty, Amy Kahn Russell of Connecticut handcrafts this striking dragonfly Russian miniature necklace. The hand-painted Russian miniature pendant hangs from a faceted crystal chain for a sweet, ethereal look.

45 Million Years In The Making

Amber, highly appraised for its warm, golden hues and gemstone qualities, is not actually a stone at all. Found in areas surrounding the Baltic Sea, the rare fossilized tree resin from over 45 million years ago is collected and polished to a smooth finish. This amber naturally contains succinic acid: a healing agent which is believed to be anti-inflammatory and therapeutic for the body and mind.

This stunning Baltic amber and sterling silver jewelry was handmade by our artisan, Avi. Throughout his career, Avi has shared his talents in order to help others, from mentoring new artisans to offering employment in his workshop to the disabled. An avid supporter of human rights causes, Avi brings the same passion into his jewelry design as he does to helping the community.

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Shop all of Avi’s handmade sterling silver jewelry here!

All About The Affogato

From simple soft-serve cones to over-the-top sundaes, ice cream truly reigns as the American favorite dessert. However, to celebrate National Ice Cream Day, we thought we’d introduce you to a special recipe from our friends in Italy. From the Italian word for drowned, an affogato is a scoop (or two!) of ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over the top. The tastes complement each other perfectly, while the differing temperatures help the ingredients melt seamlessly into one another. Feeling even more adventurous? You can also add a shot of Amaretto, Frangelico, Kahlua or another favorite liquor to your affogato to elevate it even more.

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Try serving your affogato in this gorgeous hand-blown glass for extra elegance.

Ripe For The Picking

Here in New England, the blueberry crops are finally ripe and ready to be picked. Children wander the rows of blueberry bushes with buckets in hand, excitedly staining their mouths with the sweet fruit of summer. These little berries are perfect for pies, pancakes, muffins, and smoothies, but we love using them as a quick and easy filling for crepes. Your guests will be awed by the taste and presentation of this dish, and you can revel in its sweet simplicity.

Mixed Berry Crepes

-Your favorite basic crepe recipe (we like this one from Pillsbury)

-One carton of strawberries

-One pint of whole blueberries

-One can of sweetened condensed milk

First, rinse all the berries. Next, thinly slice the strawberries and add them to a bowl. Gently mix in the whole blueberries and set aside. Next, prepare the crepe wrappers according to the recipe and stack them on a plate. Fill the crepes one at a time with 1/3 of a cup of the berry mixture down the center and a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk to taste. Tuck the sides of the crepe in toward the center, creating a tubular shape. Enjoy!

Mother Nature’s Gifts

I have been a member of the handcraft community for nearly two decades now. During this time, I have discovered the common thread that ties artisans from across the globe together: they are constantly inspired to create by the beauty of the natural world.

For me, it’s towering, stoic sunflowers that constantly inspire me. What is it about those beauties? They are anything but delicate. Meaty, strong, and nurturing, sunflowers have provided essential nutritional qualities throughout most cultures and time periods. As they drink in the sun’s rays, they climb and they climb. As I gaze at them, I remember the importance of growth.

Our artisans are inspired by sparkling gemstones, colorful flowers, buzzing bees, sandy shorelines, and so much more. No matter which segment of our lush, green earth they come from, these talented individuals delight in creating treasures which honor Mother Nature.

What inspires you? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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International Kissing Day

As if you needed another excuse to celebrate love, today is International Kissing Day! This is the perfect time to pull your loved ones just a little bit closer and celebrate the human connection. It’s also a great day to re-watch your favorite romantic movies, reread passionate books, or visit loved ones you don’t see very often. Our curated assortment of handmade, kiss-themed treasures will help make this day of love even more special.

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Venetian Glass “Kissing Hearts” Necklace

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Kissing Elephants Figurine

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“Hearts Of Fire” Opal XO Earrings

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“Hearts Of Fire” Opal XO Bracelet

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Pewter XOXO Magnets

Have You Heard The News?

Terri, our CEO, was delighted to spend the day at Nora Murphy’s Country House celebrating the summer season. Our Americana Polish pottery and hand-painted wine glasses perfectly coordinated with Nora’s classic, country style for an impeccably decorated Fourth of July tablescape. If you weren’t able to tune in live, you can watch the segment below to celebrate Independence Day with us! We also hope you’ll visit Nora’s blog to hear her firsthand account of this meeting and admire her breathtaking photography here.

Do you want to recreate this look in your own home? You can shop our patriotic Polish pottery selection here, and see all of Margaret’s hand-painted wine glasses here.