Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

January 16, 2015

Iiiiiiiittttaala - Collection of Iittala Festivo

Whenever Hubby spots some Iittala, he sort of squeals the word and drags out the vowels, with an extra screechy-ness on the I's: "iiiiiiiittttaala".  It totally cracks me up.  What can I say?  I married the absolute best guy.  Last summer he and I were yard-saling with my Mummu (see? The Best) and while Mummu and I busied ourselves scrutinizing a table full of china, I heard the soft tinkling of crystal behind us.  Hubby was crouched down, intently sorting through a box of glassware.  Turns out, he had uncovered a honey pot of Iittala (say it with me: iiiiiiiittttaala).  Once upon a time, I never found a stitch of Iittala in this city, outside of Finnish stores, Finnish homes and antique shops.  Since moving back after a six year long absence, I've been finding Iittala yard saling, in the thrift stores, and even in the classifieds.  There are pieces I pass up, but every now and then I find a steal - or something I really want.


I was recently trolling the classifieds when, lo and behold, I stumbled across a colossal collection of Iittala Festivo candle holders.  My Mummu was kind enough to give me her complete set, which is really special because she had one of each size and each piece was a gift from a family member, spread out over years with no duplicate sizes gifted - no one arranged this, either.  It just happened!  Obviously, I love the set she gave me but I always envisioned growing my instant-collection a bit more.  I hadn't yet found any for a good price, so stumbling across a lot was thrilling.  By the time I got in touch with the seller more than half had sold, but I scooped up what remained: 9 in total, which included four signed pieces.

Here's my collection before (including two, 2-ring ones I stole from my Mom):


And my collection, a bit beefier now (but sans the two I stole from my Mom, who insisted I give them back once she saw my loot):


They're definitely squeezing out my little enamel bowl.  For some reason I felt compelled to distinguish new pieces from my Mummu's - although I'm letting them co-mingle - so I marked the bottoms of the newbies with a small silver star sticker so I know who's who in the zoo.


I have to admit that I felt a little woozy making this purchase - a mixture of sheer excitement and a little apprehension over spending the money.  I've been trying to be a tightwad recently because I'd like to make some big purchases - office chairs, bedroom closet doors, etc.  I've been squirreling away as much money as I can and forgoing the little luxuries whenever I can muster the willpower.  (Obviously, my money saving waxes and wanes).  But, as I reasoned with Hubby, I don't tend to buy many accessories for our home and when I do I've normally scored a great deal - usually snagging something fabulous second-hand.  Though more expensive than a normal thrift store score, these were an excellent price too.  Plus the Festivos are, in my opinion, a classic and timeless design.  They were designed by Timo Sarpaneva in 1966 (who also came up with the "i' logo), and produced since 1967 - although they're no longer available for sale (new) in the United States and Canada, making them even more special.  And other than our kitchen shelves and this credenza, I don't have too many spots to accessorize - so I want to make a statement with a collection en masse.

Hubby's reply?  Iiiiiiiittttaala.
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31 comments

  1. Never hear of them, but I'm quite taken with them. I collect vintage candleholders and I fear I must go in search of some LlLLLLIIIITTAALLA.

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    1. Haha, definitely!! They would make a beautiful addition to your collection. I hope you're able to track one down for a good price :)

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  2. I gasped a little when I saw these. I've only ever seen these in small groupings which are lovely but this is spectacular. Please share where the actual candles are from I can't get over them.

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    1. Thank you! I love seeing them en masse, too. But when Szuka and Hubby rough house, I stand in front and protect them, lol.

      These are the candles:
      https://www.finnport.com/comersus/store/comersus_viewItem.asp?idProduct=354

      But I bought them from this shop:
      https://www.facebook.com/thekitchennook

      Their website is not very good, but they are fabulous people and could probably accept an order over the phone and ship.

      I think they're made in Denmark? Any store that carries Finnish products seems to have them, so if you have a shop like that in your city you might find them locally.

      Finnstyle also has a round version, which is what my Mummy always had in them:
      http://www.finnstyle.com/whglfi.html

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  3. Beautiful!! There is much to be said for a large collection of cohesive items. Something I could stand to steer myself toward.... I've never heard of iittalia before, but I think that some items are regionally collected. Down here in Southern Calif we have all sorts of Mexican pottery that I bet you don't see a lot of in Canada, for example.

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    1. I like a collection myself, because I am not good at styling a vignette and I will fuss with one for ever! A grouping is easy for me and it soothes my brain. I live in a city with a huge Finnish population (and I'm half Finn), so I grew up with Iittala. I'm surprised it's finding its way out of homes now - and into thrift stores!

      I think you're right about things being collected more in certain places. I don't normally see any Mexican pottery here - unless someone has traveled there and brought some back. I always think Martha Stewart is a big force in getting collections well known. McCoy pottery prices sky rocketed after a feature she did about collecting them, years ago - same with cafe au lait bowls.

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  4. i love them, they look like ice.

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    1. Thank you! I agree - they look like ice. A lot of Iittala designs were inspired by it, I think. I like that.

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  5. Hey Tanya,
    I've been reading your blog quite long now and actually one thing that kept me here was your Iittala collection. It took me awhile to realise that you have Finnish heritage but mummu was kind of great clue :)
    I understand the beauty of those festivos because I have huge collection of Finnish glassware and dishes mostly Iittala and Arabia.
    Those festivo candle holders are really popular in Finland right now and that's why they are really expensive in thrift stores and flea markets. Also if you like something new to collect try Finnish design glass called Riihimäen Lasi. They have beautiful vases etc. also in turquoise :)

    -Finnish reader

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    1. Hello :) I'm so happy to hear from a Finnish reader! I don't really mention my Finnish background as much as I do my Hungarian heritage. Because I speak Hungarian, sometimes I feel a closer connection to that side. I think part of the reason I like Iittala is because it reminds me of my family. Growing up, when we got together for Sunday supper at my Mummu's we always used her Ultima Thule plates and glasses. And I always admired her glistening festivo collection. My Mom recently started collecting Ultima Thule, my Mummu still has hers and my aunt has another pattern. It kind of connects us all.

      It's interesting to hear that the festivo candle holders are really popular in Finland right now. I took a peek at some prices and they seems quite high, in Euros. Have they always been popular or has there been a renewed interest?

      I can only imagine how beautiful your collection is!

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    2. They have always been popular and Iittala still sells them prices start at 50€ the smallest and 100€ for the big one. You rarely see them in flea markets and if you do they are pricey. They are timeless beauties :)
      I myself collect mostly old green design glass especially Kastehelmi and mostly my collections have started with something my mummu gave me :)

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    3. Interesting. Wow - that's expensive! But, like you said, timeless. My parents' neighbours are from Finland - a young couple - and they're moving back now. They are taking everything with them, all of their furniture, their car, etc. First they're renting a moving truck and driving it all 1500km to Toronto and then they're putting it in a shipping container. The wife explained that these things are just so expensive in Finland, it's worth the price of the shipping container (which is $20,000, I think). I was floored! I only once visited Finland, in 1999, before the introduction of the Euro there.

      The green Kastehelmi is beautiful! I love that your collections have started with your mummu :)

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    4. They are right everything is expensive here. Even that Toikka bird costs over 200€ here they are super expensive :)
      Don't get me wrong you can find good deals in here too if you like thrifting. My motto in life is that the best stuff are free (and perhaps from a dumpster) :)

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    5. The Toikka birds are very expensive here too. That is one reason my grandma gave hers to me - she was worried about breaking it while she's cleaning. She wanted me to keep it safe :) That's a lot of pressure!

      The best things in life are free, you're right. There is a shed of free things where I bring my garbage and I spend way too much time in there :) I hope I can visit Finland again - I wasn't into thrifting when I went, so I imagine I missed out some great things. Plus I'd like to see more. I joke it was a coffee table tour of Finland because I mostly visited relatives - sometimes we'd travel and meet three different sets of relative in a day. It was a marathon. But I ate a lot of delicious desserts and met interesting people. I'd love to see more of the country, though.

      You're re-invigorating my curiosity about Finland!

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    6. That's nice to hear :)
      Usually when you visit relatives you don't necessarily get to experience the real every day life. And no one was into thrifting in 1999 :) It wasn't cool back then at least among as teens. Now it's mainstream and (almost) everyone does it.
      And summer is always the best time to come visit not only because of the weather but all the awesome yard sales and thrifting markets happen in the summer :)
      -Outi-

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    7. Come to think of it, thrifting wasn't cool here either then. I was into vintage clothes, but not housewares, so I shudder to think of the fabulous things I passed up! Back when the picking must have been much, much better.

      Thanks for the tip - I will definitely try to visit in the summer.

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  6. Those are so lovely Tanya, you did well! I love the Iittala Taika collection - so charming!

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    1. Thanks! I feel very fortunate that my Mummy gave me her collection and I really and truly didn't need any more, but I do like how the grouping looks now that's it's a bit fuller. I don't think I have any more room, though, so Murphy's Law says I'll find a bunch soon, lol. Oh, and the little Toikka bird is from her too.

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  7. I like the juxtapositioning of the loon amongst the crystal, but the bowl disturbs my sense of balance to the display. What is your purpose for that?

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    1. That's a good question! I put the enamel bowl there when my collection was small - and before I got the Toikka bird. I wanted to add a little more colour to the credenza and I loved how it looked with the painting. Now the Iittala collection is indeed squeezing it out. But I'm so used to seeing it there, and I have no other spot for it. Maybe I should try to live without it for a few days, see if I panic, lol.

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    2. I have lived without it there for a day. I don't know why, but this suddenly feels very scientific. Like it's the captain's log and I should include a star date. I think you're right! It feels better without it - lighter. So thank you for the push. But now, I want/need a new spot for it because it is a favorite...

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  8. I love your stunning collection and hearing more about the stories behind the pieces! I'll count myself extremely lucky if I ever manage to stumble upon some Iittala!

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    1. Thanks! I hope you're able to score some Iittala, it's really beautiful and quite weighty - there's a lot of different designs and patterns so sometimes I wonder if I've passed by a piece and not known it. But I'm sending some good Iiittala luck your way right now ;)

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  9. I've never seen anything like this, absolutely gorgeous!

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    1. Thank you! I feel very lucky to have stumbled across some, in addition to getting a set as a gift. I really should buy a lotto ticket next!

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  10. They are gorgeous!And they are never enough!Great purchase!AriadnefromGreece!

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    1. Thanks Adriadne! I need more enablers in my life, lol.

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  11. I just stumbled onto your intriguing blog. I have never seen these candlesticks or candles before and have fallen in love with your arrangement...now I will be on the lookout for them!
    I am your newest follower.

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    1. Hi Marigene! Nice to "meet" you! I hope you're able to find some of these Festivo candle holders for yourself. They can be tricky to find (and expensive in antique shops), but there are bargains out there :)

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  12. I'm here visiting from In The Middle of Nowhere - just had to see your candle holder collection. Here in Washington state we see these all the time in the thrift stores and usually for about 1.00 or 2.00 at the most. I don't think anyone has any idea as to the value of them. Your collection is lovely and the candles are so cute. Now that I've mentioned how abundant the candlesticks are out here I bet they disappear - I'll have to look for them next time I'm out - might want to add some to my collections too.

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    1. Well, I am beyond jealous! Definitely scoop those up when you see them and pop them on Etsy if you don't want them. But I guarantee you'll be hooked because when the light hits them, they're just so gorgeous.

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