Wednesday, October 28, 2009

All That Glitters ...

It's time for Tablescape Thursday with Susan of Between Naps on the Porch! You probably came here from there but ... if not, make sure to visit Susan and all her talented TT participants. This week's table includes a few pink touches here and there, so I think I'll ask Beverly of How Sweet the Sound to let me join her always-fun Pink Saturday party. Check out the third photograph below if you're "thinking pink" today! Thank you, as always, to Susan and Beverly for hosting.

All that glitters just might be faux! One approach to setting an opulent-looking table involves writing large checks (and perhaps hiring a decorator). Isn't it more challenging, more affordable, and, I think, far more FUN to assemble a collection of vintage items from estate sales, antique shops/malls, and thrift stores? That's what I did for this week's table.

Some of you noticed that I've been away for a couple of weeks. It was nice hearing that I've been missed. I've missed all of you as well! The first part of my "away time" was spent at a work-related conference. After that, I spent a few days in Harrodsburg, the oldest city in Kentucky. My fifth great-grandfather is said to be buried in the pioneer cemetery there (killed by British-led Indians on an expedition with Daniel Boone, according to family lore). The old cemetery is located in a state park in the middle of town that features a replica of the original settlement, Fort Harrod, and the (actual) log cabin where Abraham Lincoln's parents were married.

What does all that have to do with tablescaping? There was an antique mall in Harrodsburg where I acquired a set of china. Is anyone surprised that I came home with dishes?

For today's table, I began with the plates and then selected items I thought would create a suitable "environment" for them. There's a lot of "faux" gold and plated silver on the table. I always compare silverplated flatware to good costume jewelry. It's not quite as special as sterling, but it's affordable and adds so much variety, style, and sparkle ... at a fraction of the cost!

I set a table for six in the dining room. I thought the gold tones of the chandelier, the dome above it, and the window treatments would provide a nice setting for the gold and green on the table.

I started with a champagne colored tablecloth and overlaid it with gold lamé fabric. Then I covered that with white tulle printed with glittery gold stars. The fabric came from a salvage store and the total for both pieces was only $2.

The crystal is by Hawkes. The stem number is 4074, and it features a laurel pattern and vertical cuts. It's probably from the early 1950's. I purchased it at an estate sale on the second day when prices were being slashed. It's a large set that also includes sherry glasses and juice/oyster cocktail stems.

Hawkes, like Rock Sharpe, was an American company that achieved great success in the first half of the 20th century by decorating glassware ("blanks") produced by other manufacturers. Their skilled artisans added crisp (usually geometric) cutting, etching, gilding, etc. Hawkes produced sets of crystal for heads of state and at least two US presidents.

The candleholders are from Goodwill, and cost $3 for the pair. The crystal compote was purchased at an indoor flea market in Harrodsburg for only $8. I have no idea who the manufacturer is. I suspect that it isn't old, but I like the shape, it's clear, and it sparkles very nicely.

The plates are by Haviland. I haven't researched the pattern, but the backstamp includes the following words: Haviland, Limoges, and France. It's not a complete set, but it has enough dinner, salad, and bread plates to serve ten ... plus several extra pieces. My favorite piece is the sugar bowl ... lots of gold trim!

Have you noticed that modern dinner plates are larger than most vintage ones? It seems that plates have been "super sized" along with restaurant portions and appetites. I recently read a tip for people dieting that suggested using smaller plates that appear fuller (and supposedly more psychologically satisfying) with far less food served on them.

I used a double layer of charger plates to add interest and balance. The gold colored ones are acrylic, and the others are silverplated. The acrylic chargers are widely available at department/discount stores (mine are from Goodwill). The silver ones were on sale at an antique mall.

I was planning to do an arrangements of perennial mums from the garden, but it had rained ALL day and everything was soaked. I decided to go with pears ... faux ones at that. I hope you're not disappointed. I promise we'll have fresh flowers the next time you stop by for dinner!

The chandelier has a dimmer switch. I think the ability to dim the lights is essential to creating a mood of comfort and relaxation during a dinner party (or any time at all!).

Here's the table with the candles lit and the overhead lighting halfway between bright and dim.
And now with the lights much dimmer. Quite a difference, no?

With the layers of fabric, I was trying to create a bit of shimmer, a gossamery look. What do you think? Did it work?

Don't tell my other crystal patterns, but I think this one is my favorite! The ornate but clean-lined stems are what I find most appealing about them. I also enjoy the way the wheel-cut designs reflect light from the candles.
Here's a closer view of the sugar bowl.

The pears lit by the tea light candles below ... not bad as fakes go, are they?

A closer view of the thrift store candleholders. I've finally found a use for the gold-plated salt and pepper shakers. They never quite seemed to go with anything else I had.

The glass compote again ...

The "swinging from the chandelier" view, à la Julio and Susan!
The votive holders are "junk store" finds that add lots of sparkle at minimal expense.

A closer view of the crystal pattern.
A few of these glasses had tiny rim chips (flea bites/chigger bites). Smoothing them with a file was my first attempt at making damaged glassware usable. They're pretty fragile. I used too much pressure on one of the oyster/cocktail stems, and it shattered in my hand. I was lucky ... no injuries (just wiped a tiny tear and moved on to the next one), but be careful if you try it at home.

The flatware is "Triumph," 1941, by Rogers/International. I found it on sale at an antique mall in a booth that was closing. It's the grille/viande style (long handles on the knives and forks).

I included the round soup spoons in the place settings just for fun. I think they're pretty and wanted you to see them!
You've seen these napkins before HERE. I purchased them at an estate sale. They're a rayon blend fabric that feels very soft and luxurious.

The "napkin rings" are easy to make using wired ribbon. Each one takes about 1 foot of ribbon (I didn't measure). I tied a double knot and added clip-on earrings as ornaments. The earrings were new (price tags still on them ... up to $20 per pair ... Anne Klein, etc.). They came from my favorite local junk store ... 3 pairs totaled only $1.

Sometimes I like the flatware chests almost as well as what's inside them. This one showed signs of age and had numerous imperfections. I matched the color using artist grade acrylics and made the scratches disappear. Voilà!

The tarnish-resistant lining was in near-perfect condition. And ... it has the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval!" How nice is that?
Haviland Limoges china, $42.50

Hawkes stemware, $40

"Triumph" silverplated flatware, $30

The three main "ingredients" total $112.50. How's that for affordablility? One place setting of new department store china can easily cost far more!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"A Vision in a Dream. A Fragment"

It's time for my favorite day of the week, Tablescape Thursday, with our charming hostess, Susan of Between Naps on the Porch. I hope you'll visit Susan and all her talented tablescaping participants.

The day had been a gloomy one. It was time to set a table in preparation for your visit, but where? There would be no light-filled images in a bright solarium. The dining room didn’t “feel” quite right for the items I’d selected. Then I thought of the old library table in the Lower Level (that sounds much nicer than walk-out basement, doesn’t it?). I gathered an assortment of chairs from around the house to provide (very mis-matched) seating.

The stemware and part of the centerpiece had come from an estate sale, held the previous day at the home (farmhouse) of a former US Congressman (from 1969-1989). Thank you to a reader who wrote and told me about the sale! It was the second day, and items were reduced by 25%.

Do you ever see things in stores or at estate/garage sales that remind you of dishes you have at home? Does the word “tablescape” flash through your mind instantly? That’s what happened when I saw a pair of decorative birdcages. One of the estate sale workers asked me where I found them (on a table upstairs), and another employee spoke up and said “She had them in her downstairs bathroom for years and years.” A man standing nearby said they were hand-made Tunisian birdcages. The Congressman and his wife had traveled extensively in North Africa, so it’s possible they’d brought them back as souvenirs. I paid $9 for the pair.

I decided to set the table in a simple manner for you today. Yes, I really did. I showed great restraint. ONE glass per customer (somehow our guests usually end up bringing their "welcome" wine to the table, and things get cluttered). I did once have a dinner guest laugh out loud at my idea of serving "a simple meal." Well, yes, there were fresh flowers ... and candles ... and cloth napkins. But I used stainless flatware and dishes that can go in the dishwasher. Well, enough of that ... on with the show ...

The shape of the birdcages caused me to think of a poem I read years ago. The first line kept running through my head. Here is:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s

Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree :

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

With walls and towers were girdled round:

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted

Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !

A savage place ! as holy and enchanted

As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted

By woman wailing for her demon-lover !

And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,

As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,

A mighty mountain momentarily was forced :

Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst

Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,

Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail :

And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever

It flung up momently the sacred river.

Five miles meandering with a mazy motion

Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,

Then reached the caverns measureless to man,

And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :

And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far

Ancestral voices prophesying war !

The shadow of the dome of pleasure

Floated midway on the waves ;

Where was heard the mingled measure

From the fountain and the caves.

It was a miracle of rare device,

A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !

A damsel with a dulcimer

In a vision once I saw : It was an Abyssinian maid,

And on her dulcimer she played,

Singing of Mount Abora.

Could I revive within me

Her symphony and song,

To such a deep delight 'twould win me,

That with music loud and long

I would build that dome in air,

That sunny dome! those caves of ice!

And all who heard should see them there
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!

His flashing eyes, his floating hair!

Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,

And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Coleridge claimed that the poem was inspired by an opium-induced dream. It must have been a magical dream indeed.

Dried oak leaf hydrangeas from the garden. Brass plated candelabrum, Goodwill.

Lead crystal stemware: "Heritage" by Fostoria (1979-1882). Production of Fostoria glassware ceased in 1983.

China: "Sherwood" by Syracuse (1949-1967). Thrift store purchase, $5 for all.

Silverplated flatware: "Queen Bess" by Oneida Community (1946). This pattern was offered as a Betty Crocker premium through collecting coupons from boxes of selected General Mills products. An excerpt from one of their many ads stated: "Lovely Queen Bess Pattern. Extra heavy silverplate; principal forks and spoons reinforced with additional layer of pure silver. Dramatic new Queen Bess design inspired by the Garden Rose of China."

Syracuse China, located in Lyncourt, New York (a suburb of Syracuse), was founded in 1871 as Onondaga Pottery Company (O.P. Co.) in the town of Geddes. The company initially produced earthenware. In the late 19th century, O.P.Co., began producing fine china, for which it found a strong market particularly in hotels, restaurants, and railroad dining cars. The company closed in 2009. Syracuse dishes will now be produced in China.

Syracuse Trivia:
The "Turner-Over Club"
Syracuse China sponsored the Turner-Over Club (later the Turn-Over Club) as a promotion for decades. The company gave out membership cards, with the idea that wherever members traveled, they would "turn over" their dinnerware to see if it was Syracuse China; witnesses to this curious behavior would then be treated to the story of the club and thus introduced to the brand name.

Hope you enjoyed! I'll be traveling next week, so this will be my last tablescape for a while. I'll do my best to stop by and see your tables while I'm gone.

Bye for now,