Wednesday, 8 September 2010

From the Land of Ty Breiz ... judy

Brittany is made up of four départements (more than a county, less than a state), and where three of them come together (Finistère, Morbihan, Côtes d'Armor), there is a little town called Gourin. With a population of around 4300, it could easily be lost in the wilds of central Brittany ... but it is not! Gourin is famous, even infamous, for its ties to North America. There was a major migration from Gourin to North America at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century and again in the 1950s, after the Canadian consul paid a visit to Gourin. There is even a replica of the Statue of Liberty in the center of Gourin!

In 1957, Ets Cozic was founded in Gourin. It still exists today as an importer and wholesale distributor of home decor items, particularly table and kitchen wares. But in the early years of its history, it manufactured in Gourin a pottery signed Ty Breiz (Ty Breiz is Breton for "the house of Brittany"). One day, the kilns were turned off permanently, but the production continued, subcontracted to Longchamp (whose doors unfortunately closed a year or so ago). As readers of this blog know, I am a big fan of post-WWII Breton pottery, and one of the Ty Breiz styles has been a favorite in our house for the last 15 years.

This Ty Breiz style comes in five colors: fluorescent yellow, poison green, caramel, burgundy, and black.

The origin of the central motif is clearly the triskell, the Celtic symbol whose meaning has a number of interpretations but is generally considered to represent water, earth, and fire.

The border has geometric elements that are also frequently found on Quimper pottery.

And it also has a border style that is a kind of feathering most often seen on pastries called napoleons in the US and millefeuilles in France!

I've never actually set a table with just Ty Breiz before, and it was something of a challenge, starting with a tablecloth color that would go with the five Ty Breiz colors. I ended up with this red and ocher woven cloth from the Basque country. (The four major regions in France for ceramics and linens are the Alsace, Provence, the Basque country, and Brittany. And it's amazing how well the styles from the different regions mix and match!) And now having set the table and tried to photograph it, I'm in awe of all you bloggers who take great pix of your table settings!

In addition to the colors, I really like the forms of many of the pieces. You've already seen an hors d'oeuvres server with its compartments. There is an interesting sauceboat shape in the above photo. I have two of the long, narrow oval platters; they are fish platters, but they are very useful for a bûche de Noël at Christmas. The leaf-shaped ravier is great for cocktail nibbles, as are the little round bowls (which are the pieces I use all the time – in my next life, I'm only having bowls and spoons in my house, and I'm only eating bowl food.)

There are other decors manufactured by Cozic that are also signed Ty Breiz.

This is a trivet that I bought because it is a matte pink (it's rare to see this shade of pink as a Breton pottery color) and it is decorated in black and white, also unusual. Nice faces, too!

You can still find a fair amount of Ty Breiz pottery in this area – not that I actually need any more, but I could use some green plates to balance out my color assortments ...


  1. Judy, this pottery sets a colorful table. The hors d'oeuvres server is certainly an interesting form. I think the yellow is my favorite. I like the zigzag design with the polka dots. :-)
    Thanks for sharing this interesting post on Ty Breiz pottery. ~ Sarah

  2. Hi, Judy, what a happy pottery and it makes a cheerful table too! Thanks for sharing...

  3. Sarah, We prefer the yellow too, and we have lots of it ... would you like to make a trade of some yellow Ty Breiz for your square CA inkwell?? ... judy