Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Medici Table

The china I'm using today is English, a vintage pattern by Myott/Staffordshire. The name of the pattern -- Medici -- conjures up visions of a very different culture and thoughts of turbulent romance, powerful influence, and notorious intrigue.

Italy’s House of Medici (or de' Medici), patrons of Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Galileo, was a dynasty said to have had more wealth, passion, and power than the houses of Windsor, Kennedy, and Rockefeller combined. It shaped all of Europe and controlled politics, scientists, artists, and even popes, for three hundred years.

Their wealth and influence initially derived from the textile trade. They were able to bring Florence under their family's power, allowing for an environment where art and humanism could flourish. They fostered and inspired the birth of the Italian Renaissance.

Medici porcelain was the first successful attempt in Europe to imitate Chinese porcelain. The experimental manufactory housed in the Casino of San Marco in Florence existed between 1575 and 1587 under the patronage of Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Never a commercial venture, Medici porcelains were sometimes given as diplomatic gifts.

Even though this is a relatively simple table for 8, I thought of the Medicis as I polished candleholders and unwrapped silver goblets. I thought of Catherine de' Medici (mother of three kings of France), blamed for the excessive persecutions carried out under her sons' rule, in particular for the
St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572, in which thousands of Huguenots were killed in Paris and throughout France. Many of the persecuted French Protestants emigrated to Colonial Virginia. My ancestors were among them.

You're here to see a table setting. I'll be quiet and let the images speak for themselves ...

China: Myott/Staffordshire, Medici - antiques mall
Crystal: Cambridge, Rose Point (1934-1958) - estate sale
Silverplated goblets: estate sale
Silverplated flatware: International Silver, Triumph (1941) - antiques mall
Placemats: Dollar Tree
Napkins: estate sale
Silver lacquered (lucite over foil) chargers: Belk and Goodwill
Rose Point compote: estate sale
Flowers: Kroger, $2.99 (reduced from $19.99), garden greenery added
Candelebra: antiques mall

Todays tidbit of table setting trivia:
"Before forks were introduced to Italy in the 11th century (and later brought to France by Catherine de' Medici) there was no need to 'set the table.' Individuals all would have been expected to have brought along their own knives."

Please join Susan of Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursdays. Susan and her talented friends always provide wonderful inspiration and heart-warming hospitality.

Thank you for your visit. I'm very glad you stopped by today!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

April Cornell: For the Love of Linens -- A Contest!

An exciting tablescaping competition has just been announced on the April Cornell website!

Here's the basic information:

Whether simple or opulent we want to see your tablescapes! Set a table with your favorite April Cornell linens for a chance to win $100 April Cornell Dollars!!

Winners & select entries will be showcased
online and in stores!


- Table must prominently feature April Cornell linens

- Theme – up to the decorator
* Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Everyday,…
* Set with or without dishes etc.

- Standard and Professional category
* The decorator must specify which category they would like to be considered in. Standard will be an everyday decorator, while the Professional cateogry caters to those who have extensive experience in tablescaping.

I was honored that the great folks at April Cornell selected a table I set recently as one of the examples to kick off the competition. They also featured a stunning table created by our friend, Yvonne at
Stone Gable! I didn't recognize the other two tables, but they were colorful and very beautiful.

Please let me know if you're entering the contest. I hope our little online tablescaping community will be well-represented. If you love April and her gorgeous table linens, this is a great way to let her know! And you could win $100 in April Cornell Dollars -- think of the possibilities!

HERE to read details and enter.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ornamental Kale! For Thanksgiving?

Hi Everyone,

It's almost Thanksgiving. It's a time when I love setting beautiful, traditional holiday tables with delicate etched stemware, silver candelabra, fine china, and vintage lace or damask table linens!

But ... that's not what THIS table is about. I decided to try something a little more contemporary. While I did use vintage Haviland china and Gorham flatware, I've incorporated potted bedding plants, Dollar Tree placemats, chunky Crate & Barrel plates (used as chargers), simple oversized wine glasses, and faux "planter boxes."

I also wanted to share a simple craft project. Since the ornamental kale plants used down the center of the table will be planted outdoors, they remain in their plastic pots, hidden in boxes made from foamcore board and packing tape.

The size of the boxes was determined by measuring the height and diameter of the pots. I used a professional mat cutter to cut the foamcore, but you could also do it with a straight edge and a utility or Exacto knife.

I covered the boxes with thrifted wallpaper, using tape (rather than paste), so the paper can easily be removed and replaced for future projects. I also enjoy using wallpaper for wrapping gifts. It comes in an endless array of colors and patterns, and the weight offers durability and a very nice tactile quality. I've found full rolls of wallpaper for as little as a quarter or fifty cents in local thrift stores.

Since this paper has an obvious "repeat," I cut the paper so the patterns would line up in the same place on both boxes and on both sides of each box. I didn't worry about how it looked on the bottom or inside the boxes, since I knew those areas wouldn't be visible after the boxes were filled with plants.

Here's the view down the center of the table.

I found the plants on sale at Kroger for only 75 cents each.

I alternated the green and purple kale and placed an ornamental cabbage in the center.

I temporarily planted the cabbage in a pumpkin and used raffia/rope garland to cover tops of the pots and the soil. The garland was one I used on a Christmas tree several years ago (I try my best not to throw anything away -- you never know when it might come in handy!). I lined the foamcore boxes with tall kitchen trash bags to keep them clean.

The china is Haviland Ladore, and the silver is Gorham's La Scala. The sherbet glasses are vintage Fostoria -- Silver Flutes, introduced in 1949.

It was a mostly cloudy day. I left the camera on a tripod, just in case the sun peeked out long enough to take a few photographs. It did from time to time (usually when I was upstairs, and just long enough for me to almost make it to the camera!).

But I did manage to take a few shots that revealed the delicate beauty of the durable outdoor plants (hardy down to 5 degrees Farhenheit, if properly acclimated!).

I painted the pumpkin with a thin layer of Titanium white Liquitex acrylic paint. While it was still wet, I added feathery strokes of gold liquid acrylic paint to tone down the whiteness and add a little bit of shimmer (which is there, but really didn't show up in the pictures).

I bought several orange pumpkins at Wal-Mart for fifty cents each (reduced the day after Halloween). I saved the seeds from the one I painted. Perhaps I'll grow my own next year.

I actually swept the deck before I took pictures, but additional leaves rained down throughout the afternoon. Oh well -- looks like autumn, right?

A few more backlit shots:

And then the light faded ...

As the leaves fall, neighbors houses come into view (it's OK -- they're nice neighbors). Time to light the candles ...

I hope you enjoyed your visit, and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Please join Susan of Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.