16 January 2010

A gentle madness

"If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your house that do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

 - William Morris, British craftsman/designer, whose designs generated the Arts and Crafts Movement in England (1834-1896)

It always grieved my father much that I was never a woman of property. He hated the way in which my 'scholarly vagabond' career led me from pillar to post of one rented house, flat or apartment to the next:

 "At the end of it all, all you have to show for yourself is a rent receipt," he would often remind me, from behind his newspaper.

The fact that I'd landed in Manhattan, the most expensive city in the universe -- where no one stands a chance of owning property, unless your last name is Astor, Morgan,  or Rockefeller -- made very little difference to my father's opinion.

I wish that he could have lived to see me finally become a "woman of property." Still, I'm sure, absolutely sure that he knows, and is very, very happy about it.

The DEB and I are very near to closing the deal on our new house here on Barford. I am thrilled beyond belief, and of course, like any sensible girl in the circumstances, my thoughts have turned to decorating!

Without a doubt, first on the agenda is: china/crockery.

Finally, I will have the space, range and freedom to indulge my life-long obsession with china/porcelain /pottery, particularly of the blue and white variety.

Obsessions are funny things. Either you get them, or you don't. If you're not a fan of "Blue & White china", there is no way of explaining or convincing you of this obsession is like, or about. 

But, if you are a Blue and White china fan, you will understand completely the relentless drive of this addiction. The palm sweating, knee wobbling, heart racing delirium of it all.

Of course, every obsession is like this, and for me (thankfully), I have precious few: books, china, and fabric (primarily for quilting). 

Being a collector, of whatever variety, is a wonderful way of seeing the world.  A few years back, I had an amazing trip to Japan, and while there I filled my suitcases with blue and white pottery and a gorgeous, broad swath of hand-dyed indigo fabric.

I have dragged these things around the globe with me, boxed and stored. They will finally now have pride of place in our new home.  

When I was living in NYC, the book obsession held full sway, now, it is time for china to reign! Every Southern Belle knows the importance of having a new set of china for your new home. So, let the games begin!

England is of course the mothership for the porcelain and pottery mad. Wedgwood, Johnson Brothers, Burleigh, Royal Doulton, Churchill, etc. and the big guns of the crockery world are based here. 

However, I have found, in my most recent explorations that the Brits seem far less inclined toward the "sets," or multi-piece "services" than Americans are. We, Yanks, like to get as much "bang for our buck" as we can, and have very little patience for building a china set one plate at a time...

No surprise than, after trawling the depths of the internet, I succumbed to the superior offerings of a American antique china retailer in North Carolina. Southern know-how wins again!

The pattern I have selected is Wedgwood/Johnson Brothers' "Asiatic Pheasants." 

To accommodate this new pattern, I'm going to sell on eBay the china set I bought just before I left New York: Johnson Brothers "Old Britain Castles" in pink. 

Pink? Yes, pink. I don't know who I was trying to fool with that one! I'm a blue and white girl through and through!  

Useful Blue and white links:


NFAH said...

My very favorite is Spode. And I have quite a lot of delftware that fits in nice with the British and Far Eastern stuff--it's a mish-mosh of a collection but pretty.

Anonymous said...

hey, how much for the set you are selling on ebay? i think i might be able to live with the pink-- certainly better than my beloved brown and white "india" pattern. Yes. it is about as ugly as it sounds. contact your friend in "dubai" at her email address.

Christiana (us meets uk) said...

I wish we could collect china! We're still in country indecision limbo and aren't sure what to do. We received 2 place settings from our wedding, so... we can eat together with no one else. :) Good luck with your collection!