Monday, February 22, 2010

Czech 2

I'm "double dipping" this week. In addition to participating in Tablescape Thursday with Susan of Between Naps on the Porch (and since today's table features a LOT of PINKNESS), Beverly of How Sweet the Sound was kind enough to allow me to be part of her much-beloved Pink Saturday. If you're haven't already visited both Susan and Beverly, I hope you will do so. Lots of fun posts await you!

In mid-January, I set a table for you that featured dishes made in a Central European (former) sovereign state, Czechoslovakia. The pattern featured a bird of paradise pattern. You can see it HERE. The china I'm using today is also marked "Epiag," and has a backstamp that indicates production sometime between 1922 and 1945.

I purchased these at an estate sale two years ago. To be perfectly honest, I didn't find the pattern particularly appealing. I did like the number of serving pieces, the shape of the cups, the near-mint condition of the pieces, and the soft pastel colors. In fact, the pattern is called "Pastelle."

The asking price for the set was a reasonable $125. By close of business on the last day of the sale, the dishes were still unsold. I was able to negotiate the purchase price down to an affordable $30. For that price, they seemed far lovelier. Still, the china remained wrapped and stored away in a closet.

They've finally been given a nice bath, and they've made their way to the dining room ... where they're anxiously awaiting your visit. As I often do when hosting an actual dinner party, I set the table the day before. Here's Czech 2, Pastelle by Epiag, revealed by the morning light.

The centerpiece couldn't be simpler -- an orchid in a clay pot, resting in a crystal compote.

The table linens are in a narrow range of warm, pale pinks.

To soften the look of the potted plant, I wrapped the clay pot in fabric (actually an old wine-colored pillowcase).

Here's a closer view of the china pattern. They remind me of Oriental Poppies, but some of you avid gardeners can probably tell me exactly what sort of flowers the design represents.

The pale pink placemats are from Dollar Tree. The set of 8 damask napkins was reduced to $2 on day two of an estate sale. So ... placemats and napkins total $10 for a table set for eight. How affordable is that?

The vintage flatware is by International Silver. The 1939 deco-inspired pattern is called Starlight. The long handles of the forks and knives indicate that it's a "Viande" version of the pattern. Other American silver manufacturers in the 30s called the style "Grille." Gorham, however, called theirs "Vogue." The Grille/Viande style was quite popular in the 1930s and 40s, but only in silverplated flatware. It never made the transition to sterling, and the look had faded away by the 50s. Some collectors today prize the look and purchase pieces to serve as luncheon sets or fish knives and forks.

I decided to use contemporary glassware for today's table. The tall water/wine glasses are "Marquis" by Towle. They're from an antique mall. The champagne flutes were thrift store purchases (approximately 50 cents per stem).

The soft pinks on the table echo shades found in the rug below.

Looking upward at the blooms ...

The flowing shapes and muted pinks and soft grays of the pattern seem soothing to me ...

From above ... in the light of day.

I was anxious to light the candles for you. The tapers were quite affordable. A package of 8 had been pre-priced at $14. The discounted price was $7.99. The TJ Maxx clearance price was even better ... only $2 for the package! Upon closer examination, I observed that the candles are covered in a light dusting of gold glitter. For this price, I can live with a little extra sparkle!

I like the fact that the blooms are above eye-level of seated guests. They won't, therefore, interfere with across-the-table views and conversations.

The angled corners of the placemats help the settings fit together like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle.

The candlelight warms the cool, red violet tones of the orchids.

The covered casserole (upper left) is in perfect condition; it's one of my favorite pieces on today's table.

The graceful curve of the orchids ...

The gravy boat is another of the serving pieces I like. If you're not inclined to serve heavy, old-fashioned gravies and sauces these days, a gravy boat/bowl is a stylish way to serve flavorful, fat-free salad dressings.

A closer view of the glassware ...

Overview of the table ...

The candles add warmth, even before the sun goes down.

The extra-large platter couldn't find a home on the table, but it can be passed as needed and returned to the sideboard.

Flowers by candlelight ...

It's finally dark; first guests should arrive soon.

Faceted glass sparkles prettily in the light of the candles.

If we should have to postpone our engagement ...

We'll blow out the candles and try again tomorrow ....

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Table in Winter!

Hi Everyone!

It's time for another Tablescape Thursday with our charming and always delightful hostess, Susan of Between Naps on the Porch! It snowed in West Tennessee, and road conditions are challenging. I hope you can make it to the dinner party this evening ...

I walked up to the main street, and conditions are beginning to improve. I snapped this picture of the front of the house on the way back. Next came hot chocolate (not from a mix) in front of the fire ... so soothing on a cold Winter's day!

I'm going on the assumption that the party will still happen. No one has called to cancel. I set the table for you in the sunniest room of the house. I used dishes that have been sitting in the little china cabinet next to the table. They've been patiently awaiting their turn to used for a tablescape post.

People often ask where I store tabletop items when they're not in use. I wish I could say there's a huge, centrally located, perfectly organized dish room. Unfortunately, there is not. On the plus side, the house offers a lot of storage space. China, crystal, and silver can be found in kitchen cabinets, mudroom cabinets, in five different pieces of furniture, and in seven closets. Flatware chests and boxes containing dishes and glassware are labeled by pattern (in case I get hit by that proverbial bus).

I kept today's table very basic: no table covering, no ornaments, no fruit or flowers, and not even one serving piece in sight.

The centerpiece is a single candle on a footed ceramic compote. The cabinet against the wall is where today's dishes normally reside.

I used clean-lined glassware from the bar in the next room.

I want today's table to have a modern, uncluttered feeling. I did, however, use china that can probably be described as vintage. It's Lace Point by Lenox, introduced in 1978. "Vintage" is one of those words that gets tossed about rather freely these days. Most sources seem to indicate that vintage items are anywhere from 20 to 100 years old. One hundred is the point at which something becomes "antique." But with cars and furniture, it's can be less (except in Europe, I think, where furniture can't be called antique unless it's reached the century mark).

I'd be interested in hearing your opinions on criteria for items being vintage vs. antique (vs. merely old!).

I usually prefer silver flatware, but stainless seemed appropriate today. This is American Harmony by Oneida. I like the way it seems to bridge the gap between traditional and modern design. It's a nice weight and quite affordable (especially when it's on sale). Belk currently has a 45 piece set (8 place settings, plus serving pieces), regularly priced at $110, for $79.99. If you buy the 45 piece set, you get a 20 piece service for 4 for only $1! Read about it HERE.

A closer view of the patterns. I like the subtle soft pinks and grays (grey in the UK?), the sylized floral pattern, and the wide platinum-banded rims. It seems to me that the cool tones of the stainless go well with the platinum trim of the china.

The glassware is basic, but oversized, which makes hosting easier ... fewer refills required!

The artwork, mostly watercolor paintings I did a few years ago, is colorful and has a tropical feel ... although the reference photo I worked from for the floral is one I took of lilies in West Tennessee. I just added lots of bold colors for a lively background. My tastes usually run to more muted shades, but sometimes it's good to step outside our comfort zones, isn't it?

I chose to use these candleholders because the colors remind me of the ones in the china pattern. They came from a local thrift store (around fifty cents for the pair!). The griffin design appeals to me. Griffins, as you know, are legendary creatures with bodies of lions and heads and wings of eagles. In antiquity, they were thought to be guardians of treasure. Perhaps I'll store them with my favorite china to keep it safe from harm! First, of course, I'd have to pick a favorite pattern!

Through the glass ....

And a clearer view ...

The candle reminds me of a paper lantern. It glows softly when it's lit. The compote is by a local artist. One of his tradmarks is pressing his thumbs into the clay before it's fired. I like the organic feel and earthy colors of his work. The candle came from Goodwill. I enjoy mixing thrift store items with original art and estate sale finds. It keeps tables affordable, but eclectic and interesting.

The late afternoon sun's coming in now ... and we have an observer! He's the neighborhood cat, KK (our neighbor named him ... short for Kitty Kat). He lives mostly here and at her house ... he used to patrol the entire neighborhood on a schedule you could set your clocks by.

Don't worry ... he has a warm place to go at night (or whenever he wants). I think he really prefers being outdoors. He got bored watching me set the table and started grooming himself in the sun.

The sun's sweeping across the old tile floor now. It's not a fashionable floor, but I still like it.

I like the creamy color of most Lenox china. When the sun shines in, you can see how transluscent it is.

Another view ...

The glassware consists of oversized red wine goblets and tall pilsner glasses. The wine glasses are from an antique shop (but not old), and the pilsners are Bormioli Rocco Amadeus 13 Ounce Palladio Footed beer flutes. They're available on I found these new-in-the-box at Goodwill for a really good price. I like using pilsner glasses for water and iced tea ... or for any iced beverage such as Mojotos or Harvey Wallbangers (anyone else out there remember those???).

Another view of "the guardian."

The sun's beginning to set and warm light fills the room.

Here you can see the height of the glasses relative to the cups. A toddler's eye view ...

These glasses are lead-free and dishwasher safe (but I think they're too tall for most dishwashers). I hand washed these and dried them with lint-free towels before setting the table. I knew the sun would tattle if I left any dust or water spots!

Soon it will be dark ...

The napkins are from Ross (on sale so I bought lots of them!). The bare trees are reflected in the china ...

You know what it's time for now, don't you?

Let's light the candles ....

This one's been burned so often that the flame is low in the candle, and it has a nice soft glow.

I found a fascinating short video the other day on It's about "How Bone China Works," and features a tour of the only US manufacturer of fine china, Lenox. The pattern below is applied as a decal. The video shows the process using "Winter Greetings" in the demonstration. You can watch it HERE.

I like the warm colors of the table setting contrasting with the cool blues of the snowy deck.

The sun has set, and the candles and wall of artwork are reflected in the glass ....

Just more views of the table by candlelight ....

When the water glasses are filled, and there's red wine in the glasses ... you and the other guests will sparkle in the glow of the flickering candles.

Drive carefully ... see you soon!

Please join Susan and all the talented tablescapers for Tablescape Thursday!