Care and use
Something special from the start. Handmade in Aurora, MacKenzie-Childs ceramic pottery holds a special place in our hearts, and we are proud to share this unique artisanal craft with you. We first began making pottery in 1983, and today we still make almost all of our pottery, from design inspiration to final quality check, right here. From Aurora, we ship our products across the country and around the world.
Our works of functional art are formed using traditional techniques: hand-trimmed, fired, glazed, decorated, and fired up to three more times, depending on the pattern. Although the process takes time, it ensures that every piece is as individual as the wildflowers that grace our meadows.
Each piece is hand-painted and no two are exactly alike. Our pottery decorators mix their own colors, resulting in slight variations. Brush strokes also vary, so you will see the artisan’s “hand” in the work. The signature red clay that we use in all of our Aurora studio pottery has its own delightful identity. In the finished piece, you may notice tiny pinholes or white spots which are characteristic of majolica pottery. These form when organic materials within the clay explode through the glazed surface during firing, or implode pulling the color inward. We like to think that these dimples and freckles add to the personality of each piece.
At each step of the process, our artisans add their stamps to the work, along with the studio mark and date of manufacture. Turn over each ceramic piece to see the stamps of the artisans who helped create it.
The signature red clay that we use in all of our Aurora studio pottery has its own delightful personality. While charming in its idiosyncrasy, our red clay is not appropriate for manufacturing tile, where consistent uniformity and precision are essential. So, to create our tile collections, we found a ceramics studio in the highlands of central Mexico, skilled in creating luxury tile. Our designers travel to Mexico to train their artisans in each new pattern, ensuring both consistent quality and a result that is uniquely MacKenzie-Childs.
To learn more about creating ceramics, please visit Our Craft.
Ceramic Pottery Care and Use
- Our clay body, glaze, stains, decals, and lustres are formulated to ensure that all of our pottery collections are completely food safe. All MacKenzie-Childs ceramics meet all FDA and California Article 65 standards and requirements for lead and cadmium release.
- Bisque (unglazed) ceramic, when scuffed or soiled, may be gently sanded with fine sandpaper and smoothed over with a damp, soft cloth. Because the red clay foot of each piece is unglazed, be sure to dry completely before placing on wood surfaces, as the moisture in the clay can cause damage to wood.
- Taylor and Piccadilly pottery, when starting at room temperature, can be used in the microwave and oven. It is best to place a dish in a cool oven. Placing cool dishes in a hot oven can cause the glaze to crack over time. Oven temperature should not exceed 375°F. We do not recommend using any pieces that are cracked or chipped. These glazed ceramic pieces are dishwasher safe, but hand-washing and drying with soap and water will extend the life and lustre of the finish.
- Courtly Check® and any other patterns that have lustre, decals or special embellishments require hand-washing. To preserve the finish, items with lustre, decals or special embellishments should not be used in the freezer, microwave or oven.
- Knife marks left on majolica plates may be gently removed with Soft Scrub, Bon Ami or other mild abrasive cleaners.
- Avoid use over or under direct concentrated heat. Do not use on the stovetop or under a broiler.
- In order to ensure even heating, add a small amount of liquid to the dish before baking foods that release juices while cooking. Do not add cold liquids to hot dishes.
- Always handle hot dishes with pot holders and avoid placing on cold or wet surfaces.
- Allow dishes to cool completely before washing. To loosen baked-on food, soak cooled dishes, and use plastic or nylon pads and nonabrasive cleaners when necessary.
- Empty and dry ceramic garden containers for indoor winter storage. We recommend storing these at 40 degrees or above during the winter.
Enamelware once brought to mind cowboys drinking bitter coffee on the open range, but we’ve turned that idea on its head, making colorful, fun, and richly patterned enamelware part of everyday living—no campfire required.
After developing our first designs in 1995, and unable to find a manufacturer in the U.S., we traveled to Taiwan and found a production company that was able to work with us to see our vision fulfilled, and that’s where our very first pieces were produced. Our designers continue to train the artisans in partner companies in several countries in the complex, color-dragged hand-painting techniques specific to our enamelware.
Creating enamelware is time-honored and time-consuming process. The production facilities are modern, but many of the techniques developed by the ancient Egyptians—enamelware has been around for that long—are still in use. Raw steel bodies are machine-milled or hand-formed, glazed, and then kiln fired at temperatures of more than 1,380 degrees Fahrenheit. Each piece is coated again with a colored frit-based glaze and refired.
Courtly Check® and Parchment Check™ designs are hand-painted using colored frits that fuse to the base coat during firing. Decals used in other patterns are hand-applied after the second glaze firing. These decals fuse to the base coat during the next firing, becoming a permanent layer in the design. Minor surface irregularities are a normal result of metalworking and the hand application of the enamel surface and decoration. After the designs have been applied and fired, a final cover coat is added, and pieces are fired once again to ensure that all enamelware is completely food safe.
Enamelware Care and Use
Please take care with your enamelware—while the surface is strong and durable, it’s not indestructible. Rough handling, banging or dropping a piece may cause the glazed glass surface to chip. As with any enamel product, some scratching and dulling of the surface is likely to occur over time.
Our enamelware exceeds both federal food safety regulations and California’s Proposition 65, the strictest environmental safety standards in the U.S. Handle enamelware with care, and discontinue use for food service if it becomes chipped, cracked, or broken.
- While most enamelware pieces are dishwasher safe (except those with rattan, wood or knobs), hand-washing and drying will extend the life and lustre of the finish.
- When washing, use a nonabrasive soap and sponge or nylon pad only. Dry immediately for best results.
- If marking from silverware should occur, apply a paste of baking soda and water to the area, and rub gently to remove marks. Avoid using sharp knives on enamelware, as they may damage the finish.
- To remove burnt-on food, use a nylon-covered pad or wooden scraper, or loosen with a solution of baking soda and water.
- Do not boil tea kettles dry, as this will result in damage to the finish. Boiling the kettle dry may also damage your cooktop.
- If water is allowed to remain in tea kettles, rusting may occur. To remove rust stains and mineral deposits, fill the kettle with water and add two tablespoons of baking soda and the juice of one half a lemon. Boil for four to five minutes. Rinse and dry.
- Pieces that do not have rattan, wood, knobs, or other embellishments may be used in an oven, up to a maximum temperature of 400 degrees. Be sure the piece is at room temperature before it is placed in a warm oven.
- Do not use enamelware in a microwave oven.
- Wash thoroughly before use.
- If food surfaces become chipped, discontinue use.
Our richly detailed glassware designs and patterns are sure to be the life of the party and can turn ordinary dinners into true celebrations. And why shouldn’t every day be at least a little bit fanciful, festive, and fun? From champagne flutes to sorbet glasses, our designs are inspired by the world around us. We start by looking right outside our studio windows where we see flowering meadows, rolling hills, and sparkling Cayuga Lake. To translate our design imagination into high quality and uniquely MacKenzie-Childs glass, we work with the best production partners in the world.
The warm look and handmade character of recycled green glass used in some of our designs—such as Heirloom, Carolyn, and Tango—led us to source our stemware blanks (the unpainted pieces) in Egypt, renowned for this glass type. Each shape is mouth-blown into a wooden mold, creating lines from the wood grain and small bubbles that accentuate the handmade look of the work. To decorate our glass stemware, we found skilled artisans to produce the look and quality we expected, at a production studio in China. We provide extensive on-site training in glass decoration for these artisans so that they can hand-paint beautiful designs, including Thistle and Flower Market, to our standards.
When we expanded our glass ornament collection, we naturally looked to Eastern Europe, legendary for its skill in the art of mouth-blown, hand-painted glass. Most of our glass ornaments are created to our design specifications in Poland, a country well-known for this craft.
To create the subtle yet spirited Aerial collection, we worked closely with an artisanal studio in Giza, Egypt (in the shadow of the Great Pyramids), where this intricate glass-forming technique has been perfected. The artisans start with hollow glass rods that are flame-heated and (once the glass is malleable) are mouth-blown, twisted, and manipulated to produce each delicately detailed shape. Frills on the stems are bits of glass that are melted on and crimped with a tool while still hot. To create the raised lines, on the stemware bowls and the candle cups, glass rods are melted and then dripped onto the blown glass.
For each type of glass we offer, we have found a production partner who can provide consistent quality and artistry for designs that are distinctly MacKenzie-Childs.
Glassware Care and Use
- Hand-painted glass should always be washed by hand, with a sponge or soft cloth, mild detergent, and warm (not hot) water.
- Glass with lustre embellishments (along the rim or elsewhere) should not come into prolonged contact with acidic foods such as lemons.
Witty. Surprising. Fun. Fresh. Outlandish. Hard to define. Our furniture has been called it all. One adjective we seem to agree on to describe MacKenzie-Childs furniture: Unique.
We draw design inspiration from just outside our door in Aurora (where we look out onto 65 acres of field and farm, squabbling geese, placid Highland cattle, sheep and lambs, ever-changing gardens, and sparkling, clear Cayuga Lake), and also from the wider world around us. Perhaps nowhere does our imagination run freer—or manufacturing become more complex—than in furniture, which we produce in a variety of locations to best suit our design and engineering requirements. To translate our crazy design fantasies into MacKenzie-Childs products, we seek out the best production partners in the world. Often, happily, these are right here in our Aurora studio. Sometimes, we go farther afield in the U.S. or to other countries to find the best-in-class manufacturers to bring our designs to life.
To get an idea of what kind of furniture we make where, here are a few examples:
- Preposterous Bench: Truly a team effort, the Preposterous Bench is handcrafted top-to-toe here in Aurora. The hardwood frame is created in our wood shop; hand-painted by our artisans with faux marbling, checks, and dots; and embellished with gold leaf, wallpapers, and a sassy sash of handmade glass beaded fringe. The cushion on top is created locally, and the four majolica legs that support it are formed, fired, glazed, and decorated in our Aurora studio.
- Underpinnings Upholstered Furniture: For this collection, we found a furniture studio factory in North Carolina that specializes in upholstered furniture and has a long tradition of outstanding quality. They also have a tremendous interest in the preservation of the environment. Working with our designs and proprietary fabrics, our partner takes much care and attention to detail in the creation of each chair: The frames are made from selected hardwoods from sustainable forests and constructed using joints that are double-doweled and blocked on every corner, or use a mortise-and-tenon construction. Each handcrafted, bench-made piece features eight-way, hand-tied coil construction and seat cushions that are made from soy-based foam. The skill and technology used ensure that each Underpinnings piece will have lasting quality to be enjoyed now and well into future generations.
- Flower Market and Greenhouse Outdoor Furniture: A fanciful design featuring intricate weaving patterns, complex shapes, and incorporation of enamelware accents, our outdoor rattan was a design idea in need of experienced weavers. Our search ended with a well-established manufacturer in China that was also skilled in the production of the detailed metal frames in the collection. Synthetic wicker requires less preparation and production time than natural fiber wicker, so productivity is higher and weavers earn more money than they would if weaving natural fibers.
Furniture Care and Use
- All furniture should be cleaned carefully to protect the life of the finish.
- Beaded fringe may be gently cleaned with a cloth dampened with glass cleaner.
- Brass feet, finials, buttons, and banding may be polished with metal polish and a soft cloth, or left to naturally patina with age.
- Cloth fringe and tassels may be gently vacuumed and steamed.
- Gold paint may be dusted with a feather duster, or gently washed with a soft cloth and mild soap.
- Knobs naturally loosen over time. Make them snug again with a screwdriver. Inserts (brass grommets) may be reapplied with a two-part epoxy if necessary.
- Linoleum tile tabletops will shine when waxed with paste wax and buffed with a soft cloth.
- Painted wood has several layers of varnish and may be cleaned with a soft cloth, dampened with water and mild soap.
- Pillows may be unzipped or unbuttoned to remove the cushion inserts. Dry clean the covers and let the pillow/mat freshen outdoors.
- Ribbon may be vacuumed in place and steamed or removed and washed in mild soapy water. Any ribbons used on Mackenzie-Childs products may be ironed.
- Upholstered fabrics and rugs may be gently vacuumed and should be professionally cleaned periodically.
- Wallpaper has many layers of varnish and may be cleaned with a soft cloth dampened with mild soap and water. Dry thoroughly.
- Woven rattan may be vacuumed and cleaned with a soft, damp cloth and Murphy’s Oil Soap.
Lighting Care and Use
- Be sure that the light bulb used does not exceed the recommended wattage for your lamp.
- Clean ceramic areas gently with mild soap and water, using a soft cloth or sponge and no harsh abrasives. Products with decals, lustre paint, and gold trim should be gently hand-washed. Wood surfaces that have lacquer or varnish coatings may be hand cleaned with a soft, damp cloth.
- Fabric and paper shades may be gently cleaned with a soft, dry cloth.
Sisal Rugs Care and Use
- Recommended for indoor use only. Avoid direct exposure to sunlight.
- Vacuum regularly using the vacuum’s brushless attachment to maintain best appearance. For liquid stains, blot with an unbleached clean cotton cloth. For hard-to-remove stains, professional cleaning is suggested.
- Use of a rug pad is also suggested.
Wool Rugs Care and Use
- Color fading can occur if exposed to direct sunlight for long periods. Rotate the rug once a year for even wear. Use rug protectors under legs of heavy furniture to avoid flattening piles. Do not pull loose ends; clip with scissors. Use of an antiskid pad is recommended.
- Professionally clean only. Vacuum regularly to preserve lustre and shine. Blot spills immediately with a dry, absorbent cloth. Stains may be spot cleaned with a mild, clear detergent and lukewarm water.
Entrance Mats Care and Use
- To reduce fading, do not place in direct sunlight or expose to water.
- Shedding is normal during first month of use. During this period, simply brush or shake the mat to maintain its appearance.