Stoneware is an increasingly popular choice for modern family tableware and given its practical properties its really not that surprising. But what exactly is it? How is it produced and what are the benefits? A name associated with pottery which has been fired to extremely high temperatures, Stoneware is more resilient than both porcelain and earthenware. It is made from clay and an addition of glass material which gives it extra strength. The body of stoneware is generally thicker creating a more casual look and enabling a variety of finishes or glazes to be applied to it. So what you gain in durability you don’t need to compromise on with style! Here at Layered Lounge we source all our stoneware from Portugal. Why? Well not just because we love the country but because they are the best Stoneware producers in the world. Costa Nova is situated in the north of Portugal and has been manufacturing a beautiful range of stoneware for over 200 years. Using a blend of modern and traditional techniques, each piece produced is fired up to 1180ºC in a single process which creates a glazed surface and hence ensures the products are highly resistant to thermal shock and chip resistant. It also makes them less porous so you can use them in the dishwasher, oven, microwave and freezer. Whats more, the supplier prides itself on being environmentally friendly too. Situated in a location surrounded by Pine trees, the factory operates with extremely high standard procedures for waste processing and recycling. Resulting in pieces that are Eco-friendly, reusable and recyclable. The single-firing technology used also reduced emissions into the atmosphere. Carefully designed to consider current trends, whist staying true to the Mediterranean origins, every item is finished by hand by artisans. So each piece is unique and special. But what about the benefits of cooking with stoneware? Well, it does not give off any chemicals in the same way that aluminium or copper might for a start. So its a healthier option, allowing your food to have a cleaner taste. It also distributes heat evenly so your food is cooked more effectively, and retains heat for longer. So you can take your food straight from oven to table in one of our stylish dishes or trays knowing it will remain warm for longer. So there you have it. That is why our number one choice for everyday tableware has to be Portuguese Stoneware. Durability, practicality yet without compromising on style, making it a superb choice for entertaining too. No wonder it is so popular amongst the hospitality industry too. Click here to take a look at our ranges: Astoria and Friso.
If you haven't felt Alpaca wool before then you are certainly missing a treat. This sustainable material is a most luxurious yarn. Incredibly soft to the touch and lacking the scratchiness often associated with wool. Alpaca wool is classified in terms of a micron count, which measures the softness of its yarn. Baby Alpaca, as you might expect, is the finest and can be likened to the Rolls Royce of Alpaca wool.
But aside from the indulgent luxury of the material there are other benefits associated with:
Alpaca is warmer than sheep wool. Like human hair, its fibres are hollow allowing the air to permeate the material. The air becomes trapped and warms you as a result. Yet importantly does not allow you to overheat. Alpacas have to tolerate temperate changes which fluctuate by 40 degrees, so their wool needs to work well to keep them both cool and warm.
Remember that scratchiness we mentioned? Well, unlike wool from a sheep, Alpaca wool is hypoallergenic. It doesn't contain Lanolin so it won't irritate your skin in the same way.
Alpacas generally require less water and living without boundaries in the Andes generally sharing less land with endangered species such as snow leopards than sheep do. (check this)
Environmentally friendly process
Alpaca's actually produce up to 28 shades of colour naturally, yet it is also a material which easily maintains colour when treated with natural dyes.
You can see why we wanted to incorporate Alpaca throws into our collection now can't you. Our Alpaca throws come directly from Peru. More than 3 quarters of the world's population of Alpaca's live in Peru. Incan nobles used to how their wealth by the number of Alpacas in their herd. In fact a higher price was placed on Alpaca finer than gold or silver. So its no wonder we wanted to work with a supplier based in Peru with traditional skills and strong values.
Our supplier started life as a husband and wife team starting training programs to provide valuable sewing skills to Peruvians. Run on a strict ethos the company has worked through the 10 principles of the World Fair Trade organisation to receive the Fair Trade Certification. It now provides fair work conditions to more than 400 people in Peru.
Peru is still a male driven economy yet our supplier runs social programs for women to encourage them to learn new skills, becoming artisans in their own right and being able to provide for their families. Women attending the workplace in Lima have flexible hours which allows them to return home at lunch time and cook for their families. An important concept for Peruvians.
Aside from the equal opportunities practises, the Fair Trade certification means our producer has to abide by these 10 commitments ...
Create opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers
Transparency and accountability
Fair trading practise (respect ancient cultural traditions)
Payment of a fair price
Ensuring no child labour and forced labour
Commitment to non discrimination, gender and women's economic empowerment and freedom of association
Ensuring good working conditions
Providing Capacity Building
Promoting Fair Trade
Respect for the environment
We are thrilled to include these fabulous products into our collection. Our new baby Alpaca throws have taken months to source so we hope you love them as much as we do!