Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Visit the Vamp!

Thank you for all your thoughtful comments on last week's tablescape post. Some of you even sweetly expressed concern for my emotional health. I'm fine ... honestly! It was just an "art project."

Anyway, even if I had been feeling slightly blue, I'm definitely melancholy no more!
Not since I stopped by the wonderful blog of Valorie, the fabulous Visual Vamp, today! See her latest post
HERE. It's called "Small Masterpieces," and it describes a party rental company in California owned by "the irreverent Martha Stewart," Jason Murakawa. He specializes in antique and vintage tableware. The Vamp has gorgeous images from Jason's website AND...
she generously mentioned Affordable Accoutrements. In the same sentence with a reference to uber blogger, Eddie Ross! Was I honored? Well ... yes, more than a little.

If you missed my table last week, here's a sample image:

You can see it HERE.

Make sure and visit Jason Murakawa at What a brilliant concept!

Tomorrow, Valorie and several other bloggers are doing 'Eddie Ross Day." Just in case any of you missed the news, here's what she wrote:

"He's in this contest at Apartment Therapy, and tomorrow (Thursday) is the last day of voting, so we are putting all our blog power to use to get out the final big number of votes for him.The post can be short and sweet: Eddie Ross Day - Last chance to vote - Link"

Thank you, as always, Susan for hosting Tablescape Thursday. Visit Between Naps on the Porch for lots of great tablescapes from Susan and all her talented guests.

I hope you'll forgive me for not posting a new table this week. I'm working on something fun for next week. I hope you'll join me!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Melancholy Table ...

Usually I set tables for YOU. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a regular guest at Affordable Accoutrements, I value your visits tremendously. Some of the tables I set are for actual dinner parties. One was for Mrs. Rivard, a fictional (or is she?) character from a post I did for "Christmas in July" You can read it HERE.

Today, I've set a table for one, for myself, in the upstairs sitting area. It's the same table where Mrs. Rivard dined. A single place setting can be a happy thing, a special indulgence, but it can also make one wistful, heavy-hearted. I decided to focus on the latter feeling.

I replaced the usual artwork in the space with a charcoal drawing my friend, Yvonne, did a few years ago. Perhaps you'll recognize the subject. I wasn't sad when I posed for it, but she captured a certain something that makes me feel ... not depressed, but emotional, nostalgic ... yes, melancholy ...

I usually describe each item in detail and tell you how and where it was acquired.

Today, I think there should be poetry. Who better than Emily Dickenson to describe feelings of longing and loneliness?

I Had Been Hungry All The Years
by Emily Dickinson

I had been hungry all the years-

My noon had come, to dine-

I, trembling, drew the table near

And touched the curious wine.

'T was this on tables I had seen

When turning, hungry, lone,

I looked in windows, for the wealth

I could not hope to own.

I did not know the ample bread,

'T was so unlike the crumb

The birds and I had often shared

In Nature's dining-room

The plenty hurt me, 't was so new,--

Myself felt ill and odd,

As berry of a mountain bush

Transplanted to the road.

Nor was I hungry; so I found

That hunger was a way

Of persons outside windows,

The entering takes away.

Emily Dickinson
(1830 -- 1886)

Dickinson had what appears to have been a normal childhood. She was bright, witty, had friends, went to parties ... but by her early 30's began a withdrawal which later became almost complete. There were occasions when even the people she obviously loved had to speak with her from the other side of a door held slightly ajar.

While in her early 30's, Dickinson made tentative attempts at having her work published, but it was far ahead of its time and she did not meet with success.

Only seven poems were published in her lifetime, each changed by editors to suit the day's standards of rhyme, punctuation, and meter.

by Emily Dickinson.

I had been hungry all the years-
My noon had come, to dine-
I, trembling, drew the table near
And touched the curious wine.

'T was this on tables I had seen
When turning, hungry, lone,
I looked in windows, for the wealth
I could not hope to own.

I did not know the ample bread,
'T was so unlike the crumb
The birds and I had often shared
In Nature's dining-room.

The plenty hurt me, 't was so new,--
Myself felt ill and odd,
As berry of a mountain bush
Transplanted to the road.

Nor was I hungry; so I found
That hunger was a way
Of persons outside windows,
The entering takes away

China: "Medici" by Myott/Staffordshire
Flatware: Estate sale service for six, leather case, pattern unknown
Crystal decanter: Estate sale
Stemware: Water glass, Goodwill; wine glass, "Pistoia" by DaVinci
Napkin: Estate sale placemats (two)
Charger: Estate sale (serving tray)
Leather topped drum table: Antique mall, $50
Side table: Thrift store, $5 (sewing machine table) Shelf inside holds remote controls, etc.
Silverplated single candleholder: Charity thrift shop, $.50
Be sure to visit Susan at Between Naps on the Porch to see all this week's Tablescape Thursday participants. It's always great fun! Thank you, Susan for hosting.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Birds ... of Paradise!

Check out Melody's Vintage Alphabet party. Her "B" post is HERE, and features some great vintage bowls. Check out the other participants HERE. Enjoy!

The dishes on the table I've set for you today are marked "Epiag." They feature a bird of paradise pattern and a stylized floral motif. The backstamp indicates that they were made in Czechoslovakia sometime between 1920 and 1945.

Epiag was an association of porcelain factories. It was formed in 1918 by the Austrian government, and named OEPIAG (Österreichische Porzellan Industrie AG - Austrian Porcelain Industry). In 1920, to reflect the creation of Czechoslovakia (prior to 1918, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), the name was changed to EPIAG (Erste Böhemische Porzellan Industrie AG - First Bohemian Porcelain Industry).

If you're interested, you can read more about the subject at:

More trivia about Bohemian/Czech china:

The British and Americans prefer bone china, whereas Europeans prefer the hard paste porcelain that is made with quartz. England, Russia, and Japan make “bone” china. In Russia, bone china is called alabaster china. Bohemian and Czechoslovakian porcelain (china) is not bone china.


This type of china was originally marketed as a less expensive alternative to English porcelain. Some of it is beautiful, and I think the quality is generally high. I found this set at a local antique mall and another set (that I haven't shown you yet!) at an estate sale. Both were reasonably priced and included several nice serving pieces.

The view through the back of the chair ... just for fun:

I used vintage stemware by Rock Sharpe. The company's heyday was in the 1930s and '40s. They were a decorating company only and purchased blank glassware from numerous manufacturers. Various etchings and cuttings were done on the same basic stems. There are three different patterns on this table today, but all are stem/blank number 3005. I did a post about Rock Sharpe a few months ago. If you want to know more, click HERE.

I didn't use the bread/dessert plates at each place setting, but decided to stack them on the corner of the table so you could see them.

It's mid-afternoon on a cold, sunny day. Now I'm wishing I'd set the table in the solarium ... look past the kitchen, beyond the pass through window, at all that wonderful light!

Many china manufacturers have produced dishes decorated with birds and flowers. The bowl below is by Lenox.

I purchased this silverplated "silent butler" at an antique mall in Memphis last week. It was on sale for half price ... a bargain at only $5.

A closer view of one of the tall water glasses. I use these for wine, and the iced tea glasses for water. I realize their positions on the table should be be reversed, but I ignored that guideline. If you know the rules, you can break them, right? If you want to know what says about setting tables properly, you can view helpful diagrams HERE.

As the sun drops lower ...

Only two tapers on the table today (I was about to suggest saying that five times really fast ... but I tried it, and it's not particularly difficult to do). Usually, when I set tables in the dining room, I use lots of tall candles in tall candleholders but, this time, two seemed to be enough. I purchased this pair of single candleholders for only $5 at an estate sale ... and they're sterling!

I thought this was a nice shot ... of the table leg. I've read that Victorians skirted tables to the floor because "Victorian prudery sometimes went so far as to deem it improper to say "leg" in mixed company; instead, the preferred euphemism “limb” was used. Such ideas even pervaded seemingly unrelated aspects of daily life: for example fashion came to dictate that furniture such as tables be covered with embroidery and tablecloths so that table legs were hidden from view."

I did a quick search online and found this response:

The Victorians did not always cover table or chair legs. In the dining room, the opulence of carved or worked decoration of the table legs was a sign of wealth, and the legs were never covered - similarly the chairs. J&M Miller refer to the custom of covering tables in the drawing room with shawls: "A custom of draping tables with fringed fabrics meant that the lower middle classes could disguise ordinary pine tables." The illustrations in the various books are photographs of actual Victorian rooms or rooms which have been lovingly restored or preserved. Nearly all are examples of rooms in upper class homes. There is little covering of furniture legs in these examples. J&M Miller also refers to the paintings likely to be hung, saying that despite the prudish attitudes of the Victorians, nudes were acceptable, as long as the subject wore a blank or vacant expression.

Which is true? I don't know. Perhaps some of you know the answer.

I was pleased that this set of dishes included bowls for soup, salad ... or cereal. Well, for soup or salad ... somehow I doubt that I'll be serving guests corn flakes in these.

A closer view of the pattern:

And of the etched patterns on the glasses:

Looking down the table ...

The china pattern seemed to call for a degree of informality. With flowers on the plates and on the stemware, I decided to create a centerpiece using greenery and candles. I used inexpensive woven fiber placemats that add more texture than color. The napkins are well-used black restaurant napkins. Whenever I see restaurant napkins at thrift store, I buy them. Once I got a huge bagful for only $2. It held dozens and dozens of napkins. Most were in perfect condition, and the few that were frayed or faded make great rags for cleaning/dusting. They launder beautifully and the darker colors are perfect for dinners (with marinara sauce, red wine, etc.) that would ruin white damask napkins.

I used silverplated punch cups to hold floating candles. The gold washed interior of the cups creates a nice glow when the candles are lit.

To give the centerpiece height, I used racemes of a Mahonia (evergreen shrub related to the barberry, common name "Oregon Grape). The leaves are similar to holly (and just as prickly!).

I had planned to use just the magnolia (grandiflora) leaves, but noticed the "fruit" of American sweetgum trees littering the sidewalk as I returned to the house. I scattered the gumballs here and there to add texture and earthy color. Small, round glass ornaments could be used during the holidays to give a centerpiece such as this one a really festive look. I used a silverplated casserole dish holder and a small silverplated ice bucket to add a bit of shine and to contain parts of the arrangement. The punch cups fit nicely in the four corners.

Another view of the dishes and stemware ...

I had quite a few magnolia leaves left over, so I made a simple arrangement of them in this crystal compote. The candleholders flanking it are vintage. The pattern is "Canterbury," and they were made by the Duncan & Miller glass company. You can read about Duncan & Miller HERE.

I purposely included leaves with imperfections. I think it adds interest and emphasizes their "naturalness."

Time to light the candles!

I always enjoy using this flatware. It was my mother's pattern, "Remembrance" by 1847 Rogers Bros. It was introduced in 1948 to celebrate the company's 100th anniversary ... a year late, because WWII had halted production while silver and other metals were needed for the war effort.

Everything takes on a warm, creamy glow by candlelight (including guests!).

No silver candleabra on the bombay chest this evening ....

An overview of the room lit by candles and the incandescent bulbs of the chandelier ...

The next time Susan of Between Naps on the Porch does a bloopers post, perhaps I'll tell her how I almost set the centerpiece on fire ... it's easy to forget how much heat is produced by a single candle flame. For the record, mahonia smoke is not a pleasant aroma!

See the charred areas above the flames? I shifted them to the side, and they stopped smoldering. But this centerpiece concept definitely needs re-thinking!

In case you were wondering where the candleholders went ... I stashed them on the staircase. I lit them for fun and took a photo for you ...

Time to blow out the candles ... and say goodnight! Sweet dreams ...

This table setting was created for Tablescape Thursday with our delightful hostess, Susan of Between Naps on the Porch! I hope you'll stop by and see Susan's festive table, leave a comment for her, and spend some time visiting all her talented tablescaping participants.