Monday, May 27, 2013

The Loveliest and Most Tempting Fine China. Or, Why Am I Suddenly REALLY Into PLATES?

Fine china. It's just fancy plates, right? I like the way food looks on plain white plates, so I've never really been into dishes. I bought a complete set of Gibson Regalia dishes at a thrift store in 2004 for, like $40. That's been the extent of my dinnerware shopping, ever. China that's too precious to actually use has always seemed frivolous to me. 

But my sweet, wonderful, old-fashioned grandma put aside a set of vintage china for me and each of my sisters before she died, with instructions that we were to be given the sets as wedding presents. I miss her so much. I have no idea what it looks like, but she and I had similar taste, so I'm sure it's beautiful. I'm registering for some white everyday plates, because I've broken about half of my Gibson set, but I'm not registering for any additional china.

Despite that (or perhaps because of it?), I've recently become fixated on super-crazy, ornate dinnerware. It started as casual, voyeuristic perusal of wedding registries on giftregistry360. Does anyone else do that? It's creepily fun to see what brides and grooms requested, and then try to guess what they're like. Especially the couple who registered for ALL PURPLE STUFF. Who are these people?! 

Anyway, to make a long story short... As we crafted our registry, I peeked at other registries. I cackled like mad at the woman who registered for china that was $575 per place setting. Honey, your friends love you, but they don't love you that much. And then I became obsessed with fancy plates and stuff. A lot of these would look ridiculous with spaghetti and meatballs piled high on them, but they're so beautiful! I. Just. Can't. Stop. Looking.
Lenox Watercolor dinnerware in Citrus

If you like the watercolor painting look but you prefer a small, Japanese style dinner set, these are beautiful. I love the look of the delicate paintings on white porcelain.
Mikasa Daylight Dinnerware
Of all the dinnerware designers I looked at, Villeroy and Boch is my favorite. I like that they decorate the plates prettily but leave plenty of unadorned space for the food. I like this buttery yellow color, and I love a botanical print that looks modern and fresh. OH, and they have a beautiful blog with recipes, pretty table settings, and tempting cocktail recipes. It's now on my lurk list.

Who knew Rachel Bilson designed plates and stuff?! Not me! This set is hit or miss: Some of the pieces are fussy and too busy, but many of them are lovely. I especially like the large flower platter and small sculptural bowls. I'd like to mix and match certain pieces from this line with my plain white dishes. If you're REALLY into peacocks and butterflies, and you want it all, this set is HUGE. It even includes weird stuff like coordinating napkin holders and matching aprons.

This is not my favorite dinnerware collection; I think it's too busy. I'm including it, though, because it exemplifies the current trends in patterned china: Hummingbirds, butterflies, and botanical illustrations in very bright colors, with an emphasis on greens, blues, and yellows. Here's what I like most about this particular pattern: If you look very closely, you'll see that it includes the scientific names of the birds. I love long Latin names for tiny, tiny creatures!
Nectar dinnerware by Spode
These funny, elongated little blue hummingbirds look hand-painted, and I'm a big, big fan of that. I also like the unusual scalloped edges of these plates.

And now, for my absolute favorite: Up next is the pattern that I would register for if I was going to register for china. This is the pattern that makes me want to go to HomeGoods right now. For some reason, my local HomeGoods store is awash in pristine but lonely bone china teacups, platters, and serving bowls that somehow lost their brethren and ended up alone at HomeGoods. And from now on, this is the design I will search for there:

It has the birds and butterflies that are popular now, but in a lovely color palette that looks less electric and more like a classic botanical print. I love the violently spiky passionflower, the delicate ferns, and the sturdy little beetles hiding in the corners. This is it, y'all. This is the best one.

Except, if I'm honest, I don't want to have a perfectly matched set of china. I'd rather supplement my plain white dishes with fun salad plates and serving pieces from a variety of patterns, including some that have been discontinued. They'd be really fun to hunt down on eBay, etsy, and at thrift store and flea markets! To be continued...


  1. I love dishes... and yet, they take up so much space, I inevitably break them, and I want stuff that is dishwasher safe.

    So my main dishes are Corelle (I supplement the set with white pieces) and some turquoise stoneware from Walmart for a song.

    That said, I would love to invest in a set of dishwasher-safe china in a timeless, but ornate, pattern. That and a full set of Le Creuset cookware. A girl can dream, right?

  2. Dinnerware is totally addicting to collect. My obsession is a 1940's-era set by Homer Laughlin in the Mexicana pattern.


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