Monday, August 26, 2013

Obsession Number Six - 18th Century

Thomas Chippendale, Josiah Wedgwood and Hester Bateman are just three of the many names of individuals who made 18th century dining a work of art. First, I will have to admit that no one in my family was particularly interested in antique furniture or the  history of decorative arts, but even as a child I was enthralled by those things. I was fortunate enough to have older ladies who lived near me and owned beautiful things, which made their homes elegant and inviting. As a teen-ager, I had classes in home economics where we studied various furniture styles and none was more beautiful to me that the Chippendale style created in England by the very famous Thomas Chippendale. Oh, how I loved those ball and claw feet on chairs, the amazing Chinese Chippendale fretwork, and the block front chests!  The glorious color of the mahogany wood was so lovely.  I had fallen in love and it has lasted!

A few years ago, I found this picture on the internet of the high style of dining in the 18th century. The accompanying article written by Sarah Nichols of the Carnegie Museum of Art was full of fascinating information about the dining traditions of the people in the 1700s.  I am sorry to write that the photo is a little blurry, but I think you can see that the table is overflowing with food!

This post is an attempt to do an interpretation of that table - definitely, a scaled down version!

The first thing that I had to do to recreate the tablescape was to find appropriate dinner plates. Since I do not own, nor would ever own Canton china, I decided to use the Copeland Spode "Fitzhugh" pattern.  In an article written by Ann Gilbert (The Antique Detective) for the "Cincinnati Enquirer", she wrote that Fitzhugh is actually a name for a pattern of Chinese export dinnerware.  She speculated that the name arose, perhaps, from the Fitzhugh family having been the first to receive the china pattern or that the name is a mispronunciation of the Chinese city, Foochow. Either way, the pattern is definitely Chinese.  Of course, the Spode pieces are reproductions made between 1954 and, approximately, 1990.  Fitzhugh was made in blue, red, plum and green. I found my blue ones on eBay.

This is the mark on the back of the plates.

The tablecloth and napkins were the easiest part of decorating the table.  I had Ralph Lauren "Peyton" ones and the napkins were large like the ones in the inspirational photo - I rather like the way the napkins are folded in the picture.  I had never seen this fold previously.

Next, I tried to find glasses that were similar to the 18th Century ones.  Twisted stems and funnel shaped bowls were quite common at that time.  The glass holding the wine (2010 Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Riesling) is by an unknown maker and is the glass that I used on one of my Easter tables this year. I mentioned then that I had bought them for a post and never used them.  This is that post.  You can see the pretty bowl of the stemware much better in that Easter post seen HERE.

To imitate the smaller glasses holding water at each place setting, I chose French Picardie "Duralex" double old fashions.

While the twisted stems were one of the first purchases for this table, these little cordials were the last purchase made.  I found these on eBay, as well.  I had been looking for a while for ones with the correct shape and finally found them. I am not sure what is supposed to be in the cordials on the original table, but it was probably some sort of liqueur.  However, I used Jello in mine, so it would support the whipped cream, while I was photographing the table!  Not very 18th century!

While researching this post, I decided that the table was probably set for a fruit/dessert (?) course .  In the 18th century, high style meals consisted of three courses, one being dessert.  However,  each course could include, between five and twenty-five dishes! The ladies took at least an hour to ready themselves for dinner in the elaborate dress of the day - that is just for putting on their clothes. Can you imagine? It sounds positively exhausting!

The Carnegie Museum photo used two four-tier servers and two four light candelabra for the centerpiece. I changed both.  I used one three-tier server with summer fruits on it (pears, peaches and cherries) and two three-light candelabra.  Most of the silver on the table is silver plate with the exception of the bowl holding the plums - it is sterling.

Even the flatware is silverplate.  It is " American Chippendale" by International Silver.  I just could not resist the name!

The flat server holding the pineapple and the two small nut or bonbon bowls, which hold the raisins, are all Chippendale style pieces.

One thing that I did not try to recreate was the wonderful miniature "Folly" on the table.  I am sure that some of you clever bloggers would have managed that, but I just chose to ignore it!! Building a folly on one's property was all the rage in the 18th and 19th centuries, although, they had been built in the previous two centuries, as well.

This is a photo of a typical folly.  Just pretend that it is on the table - lol!!

I never really discussed two of my other favorite 18th century artisans - Josiah Wedgwood and Hester Bateman. Josiah Wedgwood is definitely an obsession of mine and will be featured in one of my "Obsession" posts.  Hester Bateman was an 18th century wife and mother who, eventually, became an expert silversmith. She was known as the "Queen" of silversmiths and this is an example of her beautiful work:

If you are interested in finding out more, about any of these 18th century geniuses, there are many books that have been written about them. I read a book about Hester Bateman many years ago, but I cannot remember the title. David Shure wrote a book, about her, but I have not read that one.  However, it is supposed to be the definitive book on her work.

We southerners do like historical homes and decor.  Eighteenth century pieces are my obsession - do you have a period of history that you love? The funny thing is (just between us - don't tell!!) is that I truly prefer modern art and I love to mix the two!

Please tell me your obsession, if you comment.  I would love to read all about it!


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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Red and Pink at the Beach

Once, again, Kathleen of Cuisine Kathleen has given us a challenge to do a summer post that has something to do with fun summer activities.  I always think of the beach.  Even though I live on a small lake, we very rarely go out on the lake in our small boat and I do not have a pool - so the beach, it is!

In my much younger days, I took dancing lessons and one year our recital had an under-the-sea theme.  Two of my friends and I got to be lobsters. Our mothers made our costumes and they were the most beautiful shades of red and pink! I can still remember how pretty those two colors looked together - wish you could see the colors in this photo.  Alas! I was born in the age, when all we had was black and white film - for you younger viewers, yes, cameras had film and it was produced in only black and white! I will let you guess which girl is you-know-who, but I will give you a hint - it was probably the only time in my life, when I was the tallest person in the group - lol!!

Anyway, I fell in love with red and pink together, so when my daughter's family gave me eight darling appetizer/bread  "Coastal Life" plates from 222 Fifth for my birthday, I was excited!  Guess what colors they had on them?

The plates came in sets of four, each with a different design.  However, I received two sets, so I could use them for eight place settings. Yeah!

For each place setting, I first used a very plain white placemat from Belk's.  I have had these placemats a very long time and, believe it or not, they clean very well. The cute coastal plates were used as bread plates for this table.

Johnson Brothers' "Rose Chintz" accent dinner plates went down next with red Biltmore "Louisa" salad plates on top of those.  I purchased the geometric pink and white napkins from One Kings Lane.

I used silver and mother-of-pearl napkin rings and faux mother-of-pearl Barenthal flatware. Mother-of-pearl comes from the sea, right? 

 Choosing the stemware is usually my favorite part of setting a table.  For this one, I decided to use two different Fostoria goblets.

The first goblet is Fostoria's "Westchester" pattern in the ruby color.  There is no way that any photo can do justice to the beautiful red color of these goblets.  The stem is #6012.  Westchester came in several other colors - all beautiful, but the ruby is definitely my favorite.

 The second goblet is Fostoria's #5098/5298 in the rose color. It has a beautiful optic bowl and it, also, came in different colors.  This was considered a "blank" which was used for other patterns, which were etched, like "June" or "Versailles".

The little serving bowl is actually a mayonnaise bowl from Fostoria's "Fairfax line".  Fairfax was the non-stemware companion to the goblet that I used.  The Fairfax line was also used as a "blank" for other patterns. I used a mother-of-pearl spoon with a shell handle with the bowl.

For the centerpiece, I used a red glass bowl with shells inside, which was a Goodwill find.  I did not want to use too many shells, because recently I had done a post, where shells were definitely the stars of the table.  You can see that post HERE.

Two Tiffin champagne/sherbets were used, as candleholders.  They do not have a pattern name, just a number and I will not bore you with that! They do have a pretty optic bowls, though!

I love the way that this table came together and that I had a chance to use red and pink together like my lobster costume of many years ago. I am looking forward to seeing everyone's summer post. Kathleen's challenges are so much fun, aren't they?  Also, Carol of Art and Sand - I hope that I did red proud, since I think you are the queen of using red in just the perfect way every time!  Love your blog!!  I hope my readers will visit you, if they have not already - just click HERE.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your summer weather!!


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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Appetizers and Desserts on the Porch

 Do you ever go to a really nice restaurant and want to order just an appetizer and a dessert?  Some of you may actually enjoy doing this, but I feel bad taking up table space, when the restaurant could seat someone who would order a larger meal.

So I decided to have my own dinner on the porch with only appetizers and desserts.  No one else would mind and it would be less clean-up for me!

First, I used a green tablecloth and, then, a beautiful flower runner and napkins by Raymond Waits that I had found at T J Maxx. I had only one runner - using two would have been much easier, but the fun of blogging is sometimes we have to be creative in using the things that we already have.  My solution was to use two different kinds of plates - Bordallo green "Cabbage" and JC Penney dark yellow "Pearl" in two different sizes.

On the runner, I placed the green dinner plate first and the yellow salad plate on top.  Where the green tablecloth was showing, I used the yellow dinner plate with the green cabbage salad plate on top. I did not like the way the cabbage plate looked on top of the green tablecloth, so I thought my two color plate solution was perfect!

You can see in this photo how the yellow dinner plate looked on the green tablecloth.

I pondered a bit over the idea of flatware.  Should I use two salad forks - one for the appetizers and one for the dessert? I thought about it and decided to use a cocktail fork for the appetizers. Instead of putting the salad/dessert fork at the top of the place setting, where it usually goes, I put it to the left of the plate and slipped the cocktail fork into the napkin ring for a little something different.  On the right side of the place setting, I used a small breakfast/dessert, mother-of-pearl Gorham knife with sterling ferrules. The cocktail and dessert forks are Gorham "Strasbourg".

The two stemware pieces were chosen for their colors.  Fostoria yellow "Moonstone" wine glass to serve wine with the appetizers and a green cordial stem by an unknown maker that I found at Goodwill (love shopping there!) in which to serve a liqueur for dessert.

I did not have a great deal of room for a centerpiece on the table, so I used a green covered box that has a bird on top and has the same Majolica feel that the Bordallo plates have.  I added four hobnail votive candle holders, so we could eat by candle light, if the sun went down.  Most of the time we cannot wait for the sun to set, before we eat - lol!

I very rarely show the outside of my house, but I thought I would thrown in a few pictures of what we can see from our porch.  This is the view of the lake on which we live.

These are some of the trees that allow us a lot of privacy from the other part of the lake.  The lake is on the other side of the trees and is very pretty, but I love feeling like I am surround by woods.

This is the flower bed that we can see from the porch.  The roses are not at the peak of their blooms, but I think you can imagine how pretty this bed is sometimes.

This is the view that we can see, when we look up.  Since the lake is down a hill from the house, we feel like the porch is almost a tree house porch!

This is our beautiful white Crape Myrtle.  It is 21 years old and gets more beautiful each year.  It is really the only thing worth photographing in our yard this time of year. Spring and Fall are the times, when we really see lots of colors!

I am leaving you with more porch scenes.  I hope that you have a special place, where you can vacation in your own home.  Isn't it great??

Hope this tour was not too long - so wish you were here to enjoy this lovely outside view and have appetizers and desserts with me - I am thinking boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce that I can serve in this Bordallo Pinheiro gravy boat with the "Strasbourg" cream ladle. Also, we can have bacon wrapped breadsticks, which I will make with the smaller, fat breaksticks, so that I can serve them on the darling Bordallo plate with the frog on the edge.  Lemon meringue pie and chocolate truffles for later - yum!


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