POTTERY AND CHINA
SHOW THEM OFF AND
KEEP THEM HANDY TOO!
In the “new world order” of decorating...things on “display” are tres passé. We want things we love around us, but we don’t want that look that our grandparents had of “Oh no dear, that’s grandma’s good china, we don’t use that!” Really?? WTF???
YES, no more china or curio cabinets with crap displayed - looks like kaka!
Today, fueled by rediculous prices, the neccessary careful handling and a newfound taste for more artisanal or rudimentary pottery, fine porcelain is not so interesting anymore and doesnt fit into the homes of people with a modern lifestyle.
This missive will show you several ways your dishes and pottery can be used as decoration. And, if you place them well, like Im tellin' you to... it can make life easier while giving you more cabinet space too. Awesome, riiight?
Presumably, you have some dishes or pottery you've collected, inherited or bought on your cheezy three-day cruise to the Bahamas that you like.
Im a person who doesn’t like accessories for “accessories” sake, I think we should use what we love and not save nor “show it off.” Living casually and elegantly with nice things and modest things together in the mix...just as we dress; $300 blue-jeans, Gap T-shirt, Cartier watch and $2. flip-flops...
PLATE RACKS, HUTCHES (hate that word...it's so "1972 Colonial") AND SHELVES can make your china or pottery accessible to use; when its not in use it adds to your décor and frees up a cabinet in the kitchen where it had been previously stored. More space in the kitchen or pantry is good, riiiight?
OUR FIVE CENTURY
FASCINATION WITH DISHES!
Before the 16th century dinner plates were either wood - if you were a peasant, or lead if you had any money. Then, in the 16th century Portuguese traders began importing Chinese, Ming Dynasty blue-and-white porcelain to Europe, In 1602 two Portuguese ships were captured by the Dutch including their cargos containing thousands of pieces of porcelain. The porcelains were auctioned by the Dutch which ignited a European mania for porcelain...thats where it all began....
Tabletop ceramics became known as "China," so named as it was from China... no shit, really?
A BRIEF DESCRIPTION
OF A FEW POPULAR STYLES
What the Chinese exported in the 17th century was a new, finer, delicate tableware, heretofore unknown in Europe.
The Dutch city of Delft copied the Chinese and began painting and supplying "pottery" plates in blue and white to imitate the Chinese blue and white. They also painted daily scenes and even stunning portraits on large Faience pottery plates which were hung on the wall.
DRESDEN & MEISSEN
Dresden porcelain is known for becoming the first European porcelain to rival Asian products. Under King Augustus II of Saxony the method of creating porcelain was discovered . The king announced to Europe in 1710 that he would open porcelain manufactories in Dresden & Meissen. Dresden porcelain adopted Saxon crossed swords in under-glaze blue as its distinguishing mark. The porcelain created in Dresden bears a blue crown marker to distinguish it from pieces made in Meissen.
Coalport, England began producing porcelain around 1775, but not bone china (it was yet to be invented). One of the most famous early patterns is 'Indian Tree' shown above,produced in 1801 with an obvious Chinese influence. Coalport was the leading developer of bone china, much more significant than Wegdwood or Doulton. (Josiah Wedgwood actually died before bone china had been invented).
The English earthenware was developed by Wedgewood around 1750. Staffordshire potters, experimenting in order to find a substitute for Chinese porcelain evolved a fine white earthenware with a yellowish pale glaze, it proved ideal for domestic ware. The cream colour was considered a fault at the time, so Wedgwood then introduced a white to bluish white product called 'pearl ware' in 1779. It was produced for nearly a century and has enjoyed several revivals since.
13th c. Hispano-Moresque pottery was transported from Spain to Italy. Its name, maiolica, was derived from the Spanish shipping port of Majorca. Josiah Wedgwood and Thomas Minton of England took the pottery and glazes to another level. In 1851, they presented it at the Great Exhibition in London. The excitement generated by the richly colored ceramics inspired Minton artists to develop "art revival" and "naturalist" styles. In 1901 Majolica came to New York for a trade fair; the majolica kicked the Chinese Export, Staffordshire, Wedgwood, Meissen, etc. out of the box with their humorous, whimsical and naturalistic pottery.
YELLOW WARE & SALT-GLAZED POTTERY
Yellow-Ware developed in England and Scotland as early as the 1600s. It is made from buff-colored clay, containing less iron than red clay. Buff clay vitrifies at a higher temperature and therefore yields harder pots than those made from red clays making them perfect for kitchen items.
In the 1800's pottery factories in New England started using these same clays to make Stoneware and Salt Glazed pottery. By the 1850s the demand for Yellow Ware was so high American potteries turned out hundreds of thousands of pieces every year until the 1930s. Around that time, tastes changed to china with fine lines and decals, and the era of Yellow-Ware came to an end.
Developed in England in 1756. Transferware refers to ceramics which have been glazed using a specific decorative treatment with the pattern "transferred" to a special tissue. The inked tissue is then laid onto a bisque-fired ceramic item, which is then glazed and fired. Popular manufacturers were Spode, Ridgway, Adams, Clews, Johnson Brothers, and Wedgwood.
LETS USE WHAT WE HAVE,
Remember this dining room below? Sure you do, it's the dining room from "Something's Gotta Give" with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. EVERYONE wanted that house....but notice the simple wall of white miss-matched stoneware and ironstone and how simply chic it is! And, what I like is..it's accessible and useable!
Below is a small cupboard filled with inexpensive blue glassware, Victorian "flow-blue" plates and some 20th c. Canton china. I totally dig the look, and the bold cobalt color makes a powerful statement. It's all within reach, it looks great and is being used as well. (the white interior of the cabinet shows off the blue well too!)
Below, a small modest kitchen: The owners chose yellow-ware for their everyday china as well as all kitchen bowls, etc. The cabinets are open with no doors so the items used in this kitchen everyday actually create a stylish, useable vignette.
This kitchen below has open base cabinets exposing the charming ecclectic mix of blue-and-white china and simultaneously offering quick and easy access; they're used often and look nice when not being used!
This dining room buffet has several sets of glasses on it all the time; it offers a fun shot of color, is close to the table and just add a bottles of wine and voila - the bar is open!
Here's a swanky collection of plates displayed on shelving with a custom faux-finish to match the pattern on the plates. It's attractive and I think it makes the room look charming and antique. Notice the backs of the shelves are stained to match the floors; unusual and it effectively sets off the plates quite well.
The narrow butlers pantry of Maryland designer, FIONA NEWELL WEEKS kicks-ass with color, mixing turquoise walls and bright white woodwork! She's accessorized with the blue bordered plates and transferware serving platters. When she's not entertaining it looks chic and tidy, but when she is entertaining things are handy! The wall-rack is perfect for a narrow room!
This dining room below, a simple, clean-lined space uses a hutch, or "dresser" with plate rack. It's quite smart looking, with the majolica chargers and other serving items casually displayed on it. It's simply done, and done simply...
The creamware and ironstone bowls, platters and serving pieces in the kitchen cupboards below add a simple, clean shot of white which creates a more contemporary feeling. The cabinets with the plain glass doors and the tidy display of items are the decoration in this country style kitchen.
The dining room below has a collection of Chinese export displayed in a rather formal setting, this is what I prefer you dont do; it's lovely if you have a pee-in-your-pants collection of export, but otherwise it looks like the "White House China Display Room"
The secretaire below from my own country house has a collection of antique English creamware instead of the traditional antique books or curios. The modest ceramics tone-down a fairly "serious" piece of furniture.
This antique English pine 'hutch' is filled with a grouping of miscellaneous tabletop items, it doesnt look displayed or staged, it simply looks like its utilized ...which is the point. The things are accessible and ready for use! It's a friendly vignette; notice the fresh apples and silver-lidded cookie jars.
I love this kitchen below with the two-sided cabinets and the pastel colored 50's dishes and serving pieces displayed within. Theyre utilitarian, add color and are totally useable! When you buy kitchen dishes, bowls, etc., choose ones that would be attractive together, if displayed together.
This cupboard below is in a showhouse I did for House Beautiful several years ago; the Pennsylvania Dutch 'primitive' painted cabinet has inexpensive 19th century brown transfer-ware inside with a few plates of the same hung on the walls flanking it; it's casual and elegant, but not showy or precious.
The seaside dining room below with the wall-hung plate rack is outfitted with one set of plain, inexpensive china. It looks good, it's useable and they've added some regional charm with the sand-dollars and star-fish
This cupboard below has all of the daily dishes inside, somewhat arranged but theyre used every day. The fun candles and a silk flowers make the cabinet friendly when u look at it...something unexpected or kooky is usually never a bad idea...it shows YOU live there, not a decorator!
WHAT NOT TO DO
WITH YOUR CHINA DISPLAYS...
NEVER display crystal or glassware in a cabinet. It doesnt have the color or interest and looks pretentious; clear items should be kept behind a closed door.
NEVER wallpaper the insde of a cupboard which will have finely detailed china in it, the patterned paper overwhelms it.
NEVER pack a wall-rack or hutch-top with so much china it heaves; it should have a "user friendly" look, not a "dont freekin' touch me or everything will crash to the floor" look...
NEVER display miniatures with standard sized items, it'll look like "Alice in Wonderland".....stupid.
NEVER put lots of different patterns of china in the same display vignette unless you have a good eye and design sense( too Sanford and Sons)
NEVER, ever, let some one tell you your taste isnt good, or it's wrong. Your taste makes you unique. Certainly the world is full enough of mindless followers...be urself, buy what you like. However, let someone offer to help you display, or offer advice on procurement or collecting...you dont have to do it, but they just may have an idea you hadn't considered...
You can do this, I'm here to help!