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Ceramics and textiles for me.....oh my!

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Many of us who are Italophiles speak often of trying to bring a touch of Italy into our homes. I'm thinking of Italian wines, or great cheeses or even jars of honey flavoured with wildflowers (one of my favourites.) But most of all, I'm thinking of how I really enjoy collecting pieces of hand-made, hand-painted ceramics.

I've also become deeply interested in some of the gorgeous, handmade textiles from my favourite city of Perugia and created by a true artist, Marta Brozzetti. I brought one of her beautiful new works home with me, and have my eye on another that I hope to buy later this year!

But first, the ceramics.

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My latest purchases -- which I had shipped from Deruta for their own protection -- arrived via FedEx a few days ago, and I'm really enjoying them. I bought 3 coffee mugs (why 3? I don't know, but 4 seemed so conventional) I also bought a cunning little oil lamp, which will serve no practical purpose, and a lovely round box for jewelry. I love boxes and the sunflower pattern makes me happy.


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I also bought two serving dishes: one, a slightly unusual rectangular-shaped piece, and a round serving plate. I loved this plate and when I got it home, realized the pattern matched a bread knife with a ceramic handle and some small bowls that I bought last year! That wasn't intentional. I don't like things to be too match-y -- I'll never be featured in Better Homes and Gardens. But I don't care, to me these pieces are small works of art and art shouldn't "match" anything!

Being occasionally practical, I began last year to buy dishes that I could use every day. At that time, I bought four bowls and four plates and I am using one or more of these pieces literally every single day. I needed new dishes, and last year's choices bring me joy every day. I even keep them on an open shelf at eye level above the kitchen sink, so the bright yellows and blues are continually (and literally) in my face.

So last month in Umbria, I knew I was destined to add to my collection. I had to pay a visit to a shop I love in Deruta, Ceramiche Artistiche Gialletti Giulio. (Deruta is a kind of frightening little town, chock-a-block with hundreds of ceramics shops and many of those not very nice, some even peddling machine-made goods from China.)

But I respect the owners of Gialletti, they show visitors their workshops, from the beginnings of the ceramic piece right through to the hand-painting of the final product. They also take real care in the shipping and handling of what they sell, which I appreciate since I don't dare try to pack such beautiful pieces in my luggage.

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I also bought a new textile, perhaps for my bedroom wall, designed and created by the talented Marta Brozzetti. She operates a small family businesses, Guiditta Brozzetti, in a deconsecrated church in Perugia's university neighborhood. Her hand-woven textiles are works of art. My friend Mary has been buying textiles of all sorts from the Brozzetti family for roughly 40 years and has written often and lovingly about their atelier.

Marta carefully researches the patterns she develops for her textiles, for greater historical authenticity. My new textile features a decorative pattern called "a medallion Leoni" and is taken from a 12th century fresco that adorns a side chapel of the church of Santa Maria Infraportas in Foligno in central Umbria.

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I may mount my new textile in a similar manner to this table runner which I bought last year from Marta, featuring beautiful, burgundy gryphons, mythical creatures that are a symbol of the city of Perugia.

I don't really enjoy shopping, especially here in Canada.

But I've been bringing home more and more pieces from Italy because the beauty of the handiwork found in so many Italian products amazes me. The attention to detail that goes into so many things prepared in Italy, from a simple cappuccino or a beautifully wrapped box of pastries, to such hand-woven textiles fills me with awe and a desire to bring a bit of that attitude into my life.


Comments (24)

Wow, you got some great things! I love that rectangular platter - the colors and design look very Renaissance to me. All the ceramics are beautiful (and I like the mix and don't match strategy too).

The 12th c. leoni is a perfect addition to your gryphons - love the lavender. I'd love to visit her atelier someday.

Wow, Sandra! What a great collection of treasures! I love your ceramics, and your textile is gorgeous.

The round jewelery box is awesome.

Loved seeing all this. :)

nancyhol:

Sandra, your ceramics are lovely. I especially like the rectangular serving dish.

sandrac:

Annie, I love your turn of phrase -- "mix and don't match!" And thanks, I'm really enjoying the ceramics and my new lions. I haven't decided yet if I should have them mounted in a similar style to the gryphons, or look for a new way to display them.

I'd really highly recommend a visit to Perugia, a fascinating city, and Marta's atelier is so interesting. I was awestruck by how hard she is working against the odds in a market that often demands mass production and low, low prices.

Thanks, Candi, they really do feel like treasures. And I love the smooth roundness of my little jewelry box!

Hi Leslie, thank you!

Nancy, the rectangular serving plate seemed quite unique!


Barb Cabot:

I love your purchases. I agree with your usage daily, why not? Use it and love it and enjoy the happiness it brings. I love everything you bought.

Beautiful pieces. I can never figure out those folks who never bring back a thing! AGGGGHHHHH Clearly you're not a 'carry on' person. :-)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, these are all very beautiful pieces. I really love all the colors and designs you chose. The textiles you bought are really beautiful too. Marta is a very talented artist and designer. How fabulous that you continue to bring a little bit of Italy back with you on each trip and that you get to see and use them daily.

Thank you for sharing your treasures from Italy with us. Have a great weekend.

Eden:

WOW, Sandra your collection is beautiful! You are right, all fantastic works of art!

Love your purchases - just my style! Interestingly, you had no problem shipping your pottery? That I've got to try - especially now with the airlines charges for weight.....menehune

These are so beautiful. I love the 3 mugs and the lemon design. I have a couple of rectangle dishes and they are quite useful. The textiles are stunning. Great choices.

sandrac:

Thanks Barb! I just can't see the point in saving things for special occasions that happen only very rarely.

Jerry, I'm way too clumsy to run the risk of carrying on anything valuable!

Hi Kathy! Yes, Marta is really talented as are the artists at Gialletti ceramics. I feel really fortunate to own a little bit of their art, and be able to enjoy it every day.

Menehune, I've shipped home ceramics twice from this same shop and it has always gone really well. They're very professional.

Before I tried it myself, I used to have serious doubts when I would read about people shipping purchases home from Italy -- how was it done, could you really trust the vendor, what if something broke.....But these guys are really trustworthy, you pay for some insurance with the shipping and do they ever know how to pack things securely!

Thanks so much, Marta. I think the rectangular platter will be really handy. I can imagine using it for anything from a large risotto or rice dish, to serving a roast to appetizers!

VickyP:

I have to laugh because I remember how apprehensive you were before you bought any Italian ceramics--colors? Style? I'm glad to see you've overcome all that, and yes, that little lamp is very cunning!

Dorit:

Sandra,
Your ceramic pieces just blow me away!! They are truly beautiful masterpieces. I love the idea of not matching and buying several different patterns. This certainly "solves" your "problem" of which pattern to choose, which I remember from last year. I am going to copy you and adopt this "no matching" attitude and maybe bring some pieces home with me after my fall visit this year. Enjoy!!!!

sandrac:

Hi Vicky, isn't it funny? Before I took the plunge, I was pretty obsessive about trying to find the perfect pieces. I've worried too much sometimes that I'll get something home and then hate it.

Hi Dorit, it really is liberating to not worry about things having matching patterns! Are you returning to Umbria, and perhaps Bevagna, this fall? Or exploring new areas?

sheri:

I just love those Ceramic pieces. I agree that it is much more fun to not worry about matching patterns.I especially love the Mugs.Just broke my favorite Mug tonight!Thankfully, it wasn't from Italy!

Dorit:

Neither Sandra!! We are returning to our beloved Toscana and this time staying in a weekly rental, something we have yet to experience. And it is a ST favorite - Sant' Antonio. Have heard so much good about it, we can't wait.

sandrac:

Hi Sheri, thanks! Why is it always the favourite mug that winds up broken? I know that sooner or later, I'll smash one of these -- but that will give me an excuse to buy some new ones!

Dorit, that sounds like a fantastic experience! And the Sant'Antonio resort looks lovely, as well as perfectly placed. Lucky you!

Brad'll Do It:

The pattern selections made by you, Sandra, are lovely. Because the colors coordinate, who needs to match patterns? And I think your textile collection is coming along wonderfully. These purchases should help a lot in "keeping Italy with you." Enjoy,or should I say, "Divertirsi!"

Anne:

Sandra, I adore your jewelry box! The colours are wonderful. Thanks for sharing your purchases with us!

sandrac:

Grazie, Brad! It's so important to try to keep a little bit of Italy close!

Thanks, Anne. I do love that little box and the vivid colours of all of these pieces.

Palma:

Twins AGAIN! I bought the same sunflower patten at Gialetti in some serving utensils and 2 huge latte cups and saucers. GMTA Your ceramics and textiles are gorgeous!

sandrac:

Thanks Palma -- those sunflowers are sooooo beautiful!

I LOVE all of your purchases. I have yet to buy any ceramics even though I go into shops and drool over them all. I have such a tiny kitchen with no space. I have thought of just replacing my dishes but can never decide on a new place setting. I will have to go shopping with you sometime if we can ever coordinate a trip that overlaps so you can talk me into some pieces.

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