Written by Melissa Lauana Carter for Heirloom Art Co.


In 1768, near the middle of France, a woman walking near her home noticed something unexpected. It was a unique, white clay that was remarkably fine and malleable. She decided to take it home and try it out as a possible new cleaning material. What she didn’t know was that she had just discovered the one material that would revolutionize porcelain production in Europe. 

The clay she stumbled upon was kaolin– a chalky white mineral essential in making porcelain. This discovery was pivotal as it was the exact clay used in the world-renowned Chinese porcelain. For years, Europeans had been experimenting to create porcelain similar to the Chinese. The kaolin discovery was located near Limoges, a city with many freshwater sources and forests which are also crucial in making porcelain making. This meant that the rare and fine porcelain could now be produced domestically. The King of France, King Louis XVI, recognized this rare economic and fame-building opportunity that Limoges posed for France. He fell in love with the idea of creating French porcelain and granted a royal endorsement to build porcelain factories all across Limoges.

The first factory was founded in 1771 with highly skilled potters and craftsmen to mold and paint each porcelain piece. Massive round kilns measuring 65 feet in height were employed to be able to fire 15,000 pieces at a time. It took the kilns four days to reach the proper firing temperature of 2,552 degrees Fahrenheit. The pieces that emerged from the kilns of Limoges were unlike any other porcelain produced in Europe. The Europeans were stunned by their purity and translucence. Their extreme delicacy and intricate designs paired with the easy accessibility made the Limoges porcelain irresistible. At the end of the French Revolution, the production of porcelain and commercial trade exploded. Hundreds of Limoges factories pump out porcelain of all forms and designs daily. The humble city of Limoges in the middle of France then emerged as the capital of porcelain production in France and still holds that position to the present day.

Throughout the centuries, Limoges porcelain has remained wildly popular, not just for its quality, but also for its artistic beauty. Decorators and artists were employed to hand-paint and hand-etch intricate designs that have become staples of Limoges porcelain. All sorts of creations came forth from the factories like porcelain vases, jars, candle holders, plates, and our favorite– the votives. Our votive candles come straight from a 160-year-old factory in the heart of Limoges. The porcelain of the votives is etched in areas to where it is nearly translucent, allowing light from a candle to filter through and reveal stunning images like fields of wildflowers, climbing vines, or nativity scenes. This sort of craftsmanship is unique to Limoges porcelain as it is soft and malleable

How to Use Your Own Votive:

All you have to do is place a tea light in the luminary candle holders and a captivating scene will come into focus.

1. Distribute the votive lights throughout your home and yard as nightlights to warm up your evenings.

2. Line your dining table during holiday dinners or if you are a big reader, the tea light votives will provide the perfect amount of light for late-night reading.

3. During Christmas time, the votives make for the most magical Christmas candle. Line your fireplace or tree for nighttime Christmas storytelling or your piano for Christmas caroling.

4. The best use of these vintage porcelain candle holders is as a heartfelt gift to a loved one as they make for the best housewarming gifts. Whether it be for newlyweds, a recent graduate moving away, or new parents, the porcelain candles will brighten up any space and turn it into a home.

Wherever they are placed, votives are sure to accompany you in your most cherished moments and glow for years to come.


Written by Melissa Lauana Carter for Heirloom Art Co.

Shop all styles of our French Votives.

June 28, 2024 — Customer Care Team

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