Brillante Sandcast Aluminum
Ever since being presented at the Paris Exposition of 1859, aluminum has been significant in the modern decorative arts. Instead of embroidering its serveware to hide flaws, Mariposa creates sleek designs and naked surfaces, the pure sheen on which any imperfection will show. Mariposa Brillante is made of 100% recycled aluminum.
Designer Michael Updike (who is, as an interesting side note, the son of author John Updike), sculpts each new piece in clay, then casts it in dental plaster. It is then delivered to the most appropriate of Mariposa's workshops in Mexico. The artesanos handwork an exact copy, from which a single metal mold is made. This mold fits between two large boxes that get filled with a fine sand which holds a precise shape when pounded tight. Once sand envelops the design, the artisans lift off the top box and pull out the mold, leaving a perfect empty space. Tubes are then pushed through the sand to make flow channels to the design cavity. One channel is for the molten aluminum; the others are to allow excess metal out. (On the underside of a Mariposa piece, you might spot the tiny mark of a channel.)
When the boxes get joined tight again, the sand around the design cavity must not budge even microscopically. Once the molten aluminum reaches 1300 degrees, the artisans pour it down a flow channel until the cavity is full. They stand on the box to keep it tight and the aluminum cools to a solid in 10 minutes. When they break open the box, sand spills all over.
The sand is then shoveled up and reused. Someone fetches the mold, and the process starts again. Polishers go to work on the new piece with grinding and buffing wheels -- and a washing machine they call la vibradora -- to exact the perfect high gloss you see in every Mariposa work of art. A team of eagle-eyed women then makes sure that the men have gotten every detail right. Each piece is made one at a time.
Suggestions for the care and use of Mariposa Brillante Serveware:
Never put Mariposa in the dishwasher, oven or microwave! Okay, we warned you!
Simply wash your Mariposa Brillante by hand in warm, sudsy water soon after each use (also before first time use) and towel-dry immediately.
Coat with vegetable oil or spray when serving salads or salty foods.
Avoid prolonged storage of acidic foods. Standing water may cause staining.
Brillante can be warmed in the oven to 325°F (140°C) when serving hot foods. It can also be chilled for summer entertaining.
Please note that cutting directly on any metal surface will scratch the finish.
Brillante exceeds FDA requirements for aluminum serveware.
Slight cooling and buffing marks are a natural result of handcrafting.
After prolonged use, you may want to use a non-abrasive metal polish on occasion in order to revive Brillante's lustre.
Mariposa's artisans have passed on the glassblowing tradition through many generations. Famed for their dedication and versatility, their spectacular creations reflect a deep love of the craft.
One example is Mariposa's bubble glass. It is made in a cooperative near Florence, Italy, whose craftspeople see themselves as master experimenters. Each season they look forward to meeting the challenge of doing something new for Mariposa, no matter how difficult. Thanks to their expertise, Mariposa's bubble glass has a unique balance and an almost elastic feel that is impossible to imitate (although frequently tried!).
Mariposa's Bellini bubble glass is hand blown by master glassworkers outside of Florence, Italy. Bellini is dishwasher-safe using air-dry setting and gentle detergent. Extreme heat and harsh cleaners may cause clouding. For stubborn stains or ring marks, try lemon halves or vinegar. Exposing any glass to extreme temperatures can cause thermal shock, followed by cracks or breakage.