It's time for another Tablescape Thursday with our hostess, Susan of Between Naps on the Porch. She's celebrating her one year Blogoversary! Stop by and wish her well. Please be sure to visit all the talented Tablescape participants.
Speaking of Susan ... if you think my photographs have improved recently, it's to her credit. She shared tips about lighting, when not to use a flash, and so on. It's helped me tremendously! Thank you, Susan!
For this week’s tablescape, I’ve included several items from my collection of vintage aluminum serving pieces. My very first aluminum piece, and the one I love the most, is a round etched/hammered tray my mother made many years ago as a Home Demonstration Club project. I'll be sure to show it to you in a future post.
Popular during the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s (except during WWII, when aluminum was needed for the war effort), aluminum servingware was inexpensive, durable, and decorative. I like using it with the simple, sturdy restaurant/hotel dishes I’ve purchased at estate sales and thrift stores. Vintage aluminum pieces are still relatively inexpensive and are widely available. It seems to me that prices are far less standardized than for other collectibles, so it pays to shop around. I've found the best values at estate sales. I've also purchased a few pieces at Goodwill stores.
Bright color is provided by this arrangement of cut flowers from the garden. The tablecloth is easy-care microfiber (that sounds better than saying polyester, doesn’t it?). I don’t always have the time or inclination to starch and iron table linens and, besides, I was ready to set the table for you! The patterned fabric is an upholstery-weight remnant. I frayed the edge to give it a fringed look (I haven’t done the other side yet, so it’s folded under!).
The chafing dish holding the flowers came from Goodwill, and cost $6.99. I put a faceted crystal votive holder in the center to add sparkle. I pre-soaked “oasis” in water and arranged the flowers in a glass bowl.
One of my favorite items on the table is a hammered aluminum ice bucket. The lid has a weighted mechanism that closes it when the handle is released. The glassware is vintage, “Cape Cod” by the Imperial Glass Company. It was manufactured from the 1930’s through the 70’s. It’s considered to be in the Elegant Glass category, but is sturdy and works well in relatively informal settings. It was marketed as a “masculine” pattern, often displayed in ads with plates that featured hunting scenes. It doesn’t seem to mind being washed in the dishwasher.
I would NOT recommend washing vintage aluminum items in a dishwasher. I speak from experience. I’ve tried it, and it can cause a film/discoloration that I’ve been unable to remove.
I’ve taken this covered casserole dish and pierced serving tray to a number of “pot luck” functions. Someone always suggests that I let them take it home, but so far I’ve been steadfast in my refusal to give it away! Did you notice the flatware chest on the sofa in the sitting room? I forgot it was there until after I'd taken the photograph!
The flowers are a casual mixture of whatever I found blooming. There are a few tea roses, several no-spray varieties, fragrant hosta blooms, purple spikes from liriope (monkey grass), Shasta daisies, and greenery from an unidentified shrub. The yellow no-spray rose at the top is “Carefree Sunshine.” It grows fast (sort of sprawls in every direction) and looks great in early Summer (less so now), and it has a heavenly fragrance.
For additional color, I put three plain restaurant-style plates on a three-tiered server and filled them with a variety of fresh fruit. OK, I realize the serving tongs make no sense in this application, but I think the shapes are interesting (I like the claws!).
The covered dish works well for spinach/artichoke dip in a bread bowl surrounded by toasted bread, chips or veggies. If a few crumbs fall through the holes, it’s OK … I think they’re worth the trouble for the interest they add.
The colors of the fruit repeat many of the colors in the flower arrangement. The little Homer Laughlin sauce boat was featured in my most recent “thrifty treasures” post.
The “chargers” are large Crate & Barrel dinner plates. They’re a flat “coupe” shape, so they work well for either holding large quantities of food at mealtime or as an underplate. White dishes are extremely versatile. Food tends to look its best on a white backdrop, doesn’t it?
The smaller plates with the black border are from an estate sale in Memphis. The backstamp says “InnKare, Memphis, Tenn.” I suspect they were manufactured for Holiday Inns, which is based in Memphis. The estate sale was at a huge house (it was on the market for 3.5 million dollars). Most of the furniture seemed wildly overpriced, but the kitchen items and linens were reasonable. I bought 12 of these plates for around $5. I wanted 12 more … but, along with a few other items I purchased, this was all I could carry to the car (which was some distance away). How I wish I’d gone back for the rest!
The bread plates (under the Cape Cod oyster/cocktail glasses) and the mugs and saucers are also restaurant-ware ... from Goodwill. The napkins are linen with cotton lace trim. I bought 8 for $2 at an estate sale. They were half price on the 2nd day of the sale.
The flatware is “First Love” by 1847 Rogers Brothers. It’s their all-time most popular pattern. This set is the grille, or viande, style featuring long-handled knives and dinner forks.
This little fork was made especially for eating chipped beef! Does anyone actually eat chipped beef anymore? I’d use it as a salad or dessert fork.
Evening was approaching so I added a few tea lights … one at each place setting. The handled item in the lower left corner is a “silent butler,” to be used as a receptacle for crumbs brushed from the table between courses.
As the day nears its end, tea lights contribute warmth and sparkle.
Nighttime arrives, and candlelight becomes the only illumination.
At a candlelit dinner, the silver (or aluminum) takes on a warm romantic glow. Crystal sparkles and, best of all, the guests (and hosts!) look wonderful in the most flattering of all lighting conditions!
What do you suppose is (or should) be under all those lids. Can you suggest the perfect menu for this vintage setting?
No creamed chipped beef on toast, OK?