Hamadan Blue Pottery and The Secret Glaze

The secret is in the glaze.  You can’t find this glaze anywhere else in the world.  It can only be made in one place.

It is also one of the most beautiful shades of blue on the planet. It has an iridescent quality that can only be slightly appreciated in some of the images included here.

I was lucky enough to tour in Iran (Persia) extensively, 20 plus years ago.  I had a truly unique perspective during my journey.  I was the daughter of well-known American Museum of Natural History artist, whose native land was Persia, now Iran.

When we visited Hamadan in central Iran during one excursion, it was still quite a primitive small town.  Many of the homes had no real plumbing.  But, they had numerous shops, filled with fabulous azure-like blue ceramics, all in ancient shapes, in all sizes, all handmade by the locals and their ancestors.  It was an amazing sight – against the color of their sandy soil the mass of blue was like heaven.

Almost all of the pottery from Hamadan was made in a blue glaze color unique to the region.  Nowhere else could they reproduce this milky, not-quite-turquoise, not-quite-aqua, color with the same tone.   The mineral content in the soil and water caused the glaze to create a blue unlike any other, and took on almost ethereal qualities. We saw many shops filled with ancient artifacts as well as newly-thrown pots.  Large water urns and huge plates adorned shop floors.  Some of these dated back as early as Darius the Great (Achaemenid Empire) circa 550 B.C.

Local potters knew they had a good thing when great interest began being paid to their glazeworks.  So, most of the town kept making these fabulous blue pieces in amazing sizes and shapes.  We bought a lot of blue that trip.

Today, I still have a plate from Hamadan that sits in my living room, shown here.  After traveling to Hamadan and learning about its history, I now look everywhere for the elusive blue.  And I wonder young potters are making beautifully-glazed blue pottery in Hamadan today.

Feel free to leave comment and let me know if you’d like to hear more!

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Discover Modernist Treasures at Longhouse Reserve Easthampton

Large, cobalt blue spears of blown glass greet you when you arrive at the magnificent gardens at LongHouse Reserve in Easthampton, Long Island.  They stand, striking and tall, to draw you into the over 16 acres of sculpture and gardens.

Through the evergreens, a dome by Buckminster Fuller stands, as if an old UFO, nestled among the trees.

The LongHouse property, purchased by Jack Lenor Larsen in 1970, now displays over 60 works of art displayed throughout the meticulous landscape.  Larsen has recently received the Hamptons Cottages and Gardens Innovator Award for his outstanding contribution to design, which follows an impressive career as textile designer, author and collector. LongHouse is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, and now is a great time to visit.

As you walk through from one garden area to another, the collection of sculpture is sure to inspire. LongHouse pond reveals wonderfully whimsical treasures, first of which is Dale Chihuly‘s “Blue and Purple Boat”, amazing in it’s color and vivacity.  Jaw-dropping in its beauty, the blue and purple blown glass floats among the water lilies. A wood and concrete bench by Nico Yektai adorns the side of the pond.


Roy Lichtenstein‘s “Endless Drip” sculpture pops up at the entrance to a rectangular pool area, where an upside-down elephant balances from his bronze trunk at the opposite end.

Every turn throughout these gardens reveals new and intriguing works. If you are anywhere near New York City and can make it out to the Hamptons this summer, don’t miss this fabulous collection!

Modernist Style Evident at Mohegan Sun Casino, Pennsylvania

There are many reasons to visit Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania, other than the obvious casino play and horse racing.  Everywhere are fine examples of modernist design, ready to impress.

Walking into the casino, a floor to ceiling sculpture adorns the entrance.  It is no ordinary piece. The modernist COAL TO DIAMONDS sculpture celebrates the natural resources of Northeastern Pennsylvania and the region’s ancestors who made a living coal mining.

 

Many of the restaurants also have a modernist design aesthetic.  The Timbers Buffet restaurant has a charming ambiance, created by using birch trees and fabulous lighting to draw the eye and lure you in.  It worked.  The LED lighting is skillfully done, and the result is a welcoming, warm contemporary space.

The Pearl Sushi bar is an intimate setting that utilizes color and clean line design philosophy coupled with some bling from the exotic overhead pendants.  The result is a mesmerizing, modernist space.

All this set in the beautiful Pocono Mountains…it’s worth the trip.

Faberge Trophies and Modernist Sculpture at Goshen Harness Racing Museum

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A tour through the large, winding halls of the Goshen Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York revealed many unexpected treasures. On display are fine works of art all devoted to the sport of horse racing.

This is the oldest track in the country, and the museum has an enormous number of fascinating displays. Try the 3D Simulator for the excitement of an actual race. There are many interactive exhibits making this a fun day for the whole family. View “At the Gate”, the award-winning film on-demand at the museum theater.