Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
When I wandered away to college and later up to Alaska for a summer job, I called my Mom one Sunday afternoon and asked her what was going on back in the Northeast corner of Kansas, where I was raised. She shared the normal gossip about work and friends, but before hanging up, she mentioned, “Oh, and I discovered Polish Pottery!” “Polish Pottery? What is that?” I asked. She then leapt into a description of its vibrant kobalt blues and playful circular patterns. “You mix and match all the patterns, and they all go together! You really should look it up, you would love it!” she said. Doubtfully, I replied, “Umm…okay…well…is there a book about it?” When she said “No,” I was dumbfounded. “What? No book?” In my little world, it seemed that anything worth knowing about could be found in a book. But alas, my subsequent searches for a history of, or better explanation of, Polish Pottery were fruitless.
A trip to Kansas that coming winter introduced me personally to my Mother’s expanding Polish Pottery collection. Wow—she was obsessed! And after she served a few meals with these Polish Dishes, I was also hooked! Within a few years later, my husband and I had our hands deep into the world of Polish Pottery business, but we had to learn everything through the school of hard knocks.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of Polish Pottery patterns, and rather than give them individual names, all factories label their patterns with numbers. To make it easy on American collectors, American retailers each give the patterns names, such as Mosquito, Peacock, Blue Floral, Valley, Forget Me Not, etc. But with each retailer naming the pieces their own made-up names, it has made a lot of confusion for buyers trying to shop around for the best deals.
Now wouldn't it be dream-like if someone published a comprehensive book with ALL of the factories listed, and photos of ALL of their patterns, codes, shapes, etc?! It would be a TON of work, I know...and they'd probably have to republish the book each week, since the companies are always growing, expanding, and changing their Polish Stoneware collection!
Alas...a woman can dream!
The word “Unikat” means “unique” in Polish, and all “Art” pieces are stamped with this word on bottom. And of course, each “Art” piece is signed on the bottom with the artist’s full signature, which is why it is also known as a “Signature” piece. The signing of the artist’s full signature on the bottom is a distinction from the other patterns, which typically only have the artist’s initials or a company logo.
But don’t think it is that simple. With 7+ major Polish Stoneware factories (and many smaller ones) producing this fine quality stoneware, there is a lot of variation to how they structure their pricing scale.
For example, one of my favorite Polish factories is Zaklady Ceramiczne. There are four different price levels used in this factory. And you can learn which patterns are which in each level by looking at the pattern code, often listed on the bottom of the pottery, or on retailers websites.
The prices vary depending on the detail of the hand-painted work. For example, when selecting a Polish Pottery product, a code of GU596-56 signifies that you are looking at a teapot (shape number 596), in the Peacock (number 56) pattern, just as a GU814-ART104 pattern would signify a Salad Plate (814) in a Daisy (ART104) pattern. The pattern level is always the second part of the product code, coming just after the dash. The first, and least-expensive level is the “Classic” level, and has numbers without any letters attached (i.e. 41, 56, 111). The “Upper Classic” is the next level up, and always has an “A” attached to the end of the pattern code (166A, 205A, 224A). The third level is the “Subtle” level, labeled as DU (DU1, DU8, DU60) which is sometimes a signed Unikat level, and the highest level is the “Signature Series,” which is labeled with the word “ART” before the pattern number (ART104, ART126, ART129). As you move up the levels, the detail and work gets noticeably more complicated, which is why the prices go up as well.
For example, look at the bottom of a cookie tray below. The blue tag shows "GU1103" and "104ART" as well as "GAT 1":
If the blue tag is missing, your "Unikat" pieces may still have the necessary codes on them, like this "818" piece, as "ART123" pattern!
Why do they switch off writing the "ART" coding before or after the number, such as ART123 or 104ART above?
Just to confuse us. Yup--that's why!
So the truth is...you can ignore American retailers names they assign to Polish Pottery patterns (like the above "Peacock, Daisy, etc" that I just used). They do not originate from Polish factories, but are selected by individual US retailers to make it easier to sell the patterns to collectors. But the names can change from retailer to retailer. In reality, the numbers are what count!!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
It is an awesome website that lets users submit recipes (with gorgeous photos)...and I can basically just look through all of the photos for an idea of what to make for dinner! Take a look...you'll be drooling, too!
Southwest Quinoa Salad
I found this recipe, and made it yesterday. It is supposedly a "salad"...but I personally thing most dishes like this deserve to be a dip, too. So, out came the tortilla chips...yummy!! It uses avocados, fresh lime juice, and quinoa, which is literally one of the healthiest foods on the planet (and a staple in many South American countries). It's a shame I only discovered quinoa last summer...and that most people have still never heard of it, or tried it. I would compare it to rice (cooks the same way), but it is lighter, fluffier, and has a light crunch when you eat it. I often mix it with rice in my rice cooker, because I love its high fiber and iron content! You can find it in the health food section of stores, and it looks like a little tiny seed (which it is).
These little 5.5" Polish Pottery bowls are to die for (okay, they're not THAT little...but they're still not your standard cereal bowl size)! I prefer to use them, instead of big bowls...because I tend to take smaller servings (and we all know that is a smart idea)! Then again...perhaps it just means that I'll get 2nds, and I feel justified...? Either way...I guess I just like small things!
I love to cook new recipes, particularly ones that are meat and cheeseless. A lot of friends and family have asked me what in the world I eat, if I don't eat meat and cheese. So, in an effort to share with the world that there really are PLENTY of foods out there that don't include the aforementioned...I will now be posting links to recipes that I enjoy (and of course--they're displayed in Polish Pottery)!
Double the pleasure...double the fun!!
Curried Cashew Couscous
I have to admit that I've had a bag of couscous hanging around for about a year...and I haven't figured out what to do with it, until now. I picked it up in the bulk section of the grocery store in Whitehorse, Yukon (because Canadians are healthy like that, eh?)...but I put it in a recipe for the first time this week.I pulled out a recipe I found online, originally from the "Vegan Express" cookbook. The Curried Cashew Couscous was delicious, in my opinion...I had it for yesterday's lunch, dinner, and even breakfast this morning. My dad also ate it up! He supposedly hates curry...but he's never turned away from any of the dishes I make with curry (which is quite a few). My Mom didn't feel like eating...but had one bite and said she liked it. My husband took a 1/4 cup of it (you could tell he had great faith that he would like it), and then told me he wasn't a big fan. Oh well...you can't win them all!
If you dare to try this recipe (I really did love it!), then I would recommend Craisins instead of raisins (I have no use for raisins in my life...ugh)...it was the key ingredient, and gave the dish JUST the right amount of sweetness!
Couscous was a completely new venture for me--I would compare it to a rice texture, but smaller...similar in flavor to white rice (but healthier)...and it cooked a LOT faster. I might have to try it as a replacement for rice, some time!
And of course, I can't fail to mention the beautiful Polish Pottery Heart Bowl. We have many of different shapes and patterns. They're cute...they're nicely sized...and they make such a cute addition to the dinner table! Plus, they're a fantastic gift for a "LOVED" one! ;)
Monday, May 31, 2010
Until then...enjoy photos of our collection of bowls from Zaklady and other factories.
The Heart Polish Pottery Bowl, the large GU986 Polish Pottery Party Bowl (with a vinegar bean dip inside), and others!
Friday, April 30, 2010
Each jewelry piece is handmade from natural miniature flowers that are carefully picked,
placed in an acrylic/resin base, and then stylishly set in Sterling Silver.
This unique setting will preserve these blossoms for years to come!
Perfect as a Mother's Day gift, in my opinion!