25 January 2010

Profiles in Porcelain

Little Augury: Marie Antoinette by Raynaud

Many thanks to all of you Chinaholics who came out of the butler's pantry and shared your own tales of tabletops.

Mrs. Blandings: Herend Golden Edge

Almost all of you advised me to MIX! My dear friend Richard who is famous in our set for his five course dinners with all the proper crystal and sterling accouterments, put it very convincingly:

Curator KDM: Mottahedeh Duke of Gloucester

Aesthete's 19th century limoges in action

" As you know, I love to use my porcelain. For dinner parties but also for those grand solitaire dinners. Chinese take away on old Meissen is the only way to go! I have several single tea cups and saucers and dishes which I only use for Sundays in bed with the Times and tea/coffee.

Style Court is drawn to Herend Chinese Bouquet in Rust while Julieta adores hers in Green

Marnie loves her grandmother's Noritake Beverly, but, like Mr. Worthington, isn't a big fan of Imari

"So go ahead,if you love a pattern, buy yourself a breakfast cup or chocolate cup and side plate for those afternoons on the sofa or mornings in bed (or afternoons in the garden). Personally, I'd buy one cup/saucer/plate in Roseraie for tea in the garden and Darley for afternoons on the sofa. Nobody says you can't have a harlequin tea set.

Home Before Dark: Chateaubriand by Bernardaud

"Another thing I'd like to point out is we can mix and match our china. I don't know if you caught it but at one of my past dinners, I used three different patterns (Royal Worcestor for the appetizer and entree, Bernardaud for the cheese course, Herend for dessert and coffee) Because of that, people noticed the china, rather than being overwhelmed by Herend butterflies or Bernadaud shepards. One word: Mix! "

Meg from Pigtown-Design likes Royal Copenhagen Half Lace in white

while Patricia of PVE Design prefers it in white and blue...

That evening I ran into another china fanatic who caused another tableware epiphany. Jennie, who could easily have us all over for luncheon with her stash of dishes, urgently advised me not to buy a matching coffee or teapot. Buy a silver one - it goes with everything! Sage advice indeed.

Jennie's Enoch Wood and Son's Verona

Janet's grandfather's Wedgwood Edme

In fact, quite a few of you urged me to think about not just mixing up patterns, but materials - don't buy all the serving pieces in the dinner plate pattern -the luster of silver and the glitter of crystal add dimension and drama. After all, who said dinner theater couldn't be right at your own table?

Hermes' Africa adds spice to Marja's dessert

Two of my favorite ladies were preaching to the choir when they urged me to think secondhand: as you know from my ebay exploits, I hardly buy anything firsthand. Deb recommended connecting to the auction houses while Maureen turned me onto to replacements.com because with porcelain, as in life, you can't wait for others to bring to your table what you can put there yourself.

20 January 2010

China Girl

Flora Danica from Royal Copenhagen - the Queen Bee of Services

Much more fun than planning a wedding - in my opinion - is picking out china and crystal for one's registry. There's no room for fleeting flights of fancy here - these are patterns to be collected and enjoyed over decades.

My mother Jennifer, a potter herself, enthusiastically agreed to lend her expert eye in this very serious undertaking - armed with a fresh pack of Camels and comfortable shoes, she was ready to take on the Big City.

First stop: Michael C. Fina. Their extensive selection of lines, from Bernardaud to Mottahedeh, makes this ground zero for all brides.

One thing I learned immediately - throw that list made from looking at the website away. I thought for sure Mottahedeh's Tobacco Leaf was for me until I saw it in person.

Alas, the quality of the painting didn't measure up - at least, not after having seen the antique version it's replicating.

The subterranean level of the store is like a candy story of color and pattern. For the first time, I really experienced the connection between textiles - already an obsession - and ceramics. Would it be too dramatic to call it a porcelain epiphany? No, I don't think it would.

Darley Abbey by Royal Crown Derby - loved the haunting blue-green, but how good will it look when the gilt starts rubbing off....

Constance from Bernardaud - one of Bernardaud's best-sellers and comes with lots of different serving pieces. Neoclassical with whimsical acorn garlands - definitely a contender.

Roseraie, also by Bernardaud - I don't know why, but I fell in love with this one. Hmmm...

So many delicious patterns, but only one could be crowned mine. Or could it? How about another pattern for the dessert service, suggested Mom. This changed the whole game.

While going over our research at the tasty east side Mexican joint, Zarela's, Zarela herself came over, and after a random anecdote about Robert Palmer, advised, "Make sure food will look good on it." Oh, right!

The one line chez Fina did not carry, to my chagrin, was the Hungarian factory Herend. After a quick Camel, Mom was ready to fight the crowds up Fifth to Saks where we admired the hand-painted bugs, the molded basket-weave rim and green branch handles of Rothschild Bird.

I was charmed even before I heard the back story of the pattern: it was first made for the Baroness de Rothschild in 1860 and was inspired by the Baroness having lost her pearls in the garden which were found later by the gardener in the beaks of frolicking birds perched in the trees.

A tip to other brides or anyone who has decided to make a lifelong commitment to porcelain - look at the serving pieces as well as the dinner plates. After looking at the coffee pots and tureens of Roseraie, I bade a sorrowful farewell.

Another thing to keep in mind - generally the more decorated the plate, the more expensive it is. I was smitten by the over-the-top Traditional Imari by Royal Crown Derby....

but found the price tag equally dramatic. As I don't want to live in fear of breaking plates and I hope to be able to complete the service before I'm 100, a service that is more reasonably priced than not is a consideration.

The solution? Having my cake and eating it too - on Traditional Imari, while the rest of the dinner is served on Rothschild Bird.

Now, what did or would you pick out?

19 January 2010

When It Rains, It Pours

Many thanks and lots of aloha to Mrs. Blandings and her merry band of bloggers for organizing the most sumptuous bridal shower ever - this is a crew from whom you don't have to worry about getting ten crystal vases.

Here's to a new grown-up chapter in life full of mystery and adventure (and getting used to saying "my husband")!

06 January 2010

Just Wed!

As you read this, Mr. EEE and I -no longer a Mam'selle - are making our way to the tropical shores of love, Kauai.

Macadamia nuts, otherworldly sunsets and a future with a most wonderful man await. But I'll be checking in sporadically - we have china patterns to discuss!