People who are designers tend to evaluate just about everything they see and get their hands on. Nothing is ever just a thing – it exists beyond the need for which it was created (despite the mantra of most modernists). Breaking down the look, feel, texture, and use of everyday items is par for the course and that process of evaluating creates a sort of hell for me. Why you ask? Because I can’t afford my tastes and my knowledge of what exists is a gorilla on my back telling me what I should be doing instead of what I am doing. Stupid gorilla – (using sign language) “why don’t you go try and balance my checkbook for awhile.”
I am really at the beginning part of my career – I know enough now where I am self-reliant, develop all my own original thoughts and designs, and I am smart enough to figure out how to detail them That’s right … I know stuff. I’m not complaining, not really. I might not be rolling in money but I have a great family, my health, and I am incredibly good looking. Soooo, 3 out of 4 isn’t bad and the one I am missing will fall into place as I get older, most likely replacing my good looks (which is already on the way out) – things are funny that way, you can’t have it all.
But back to designers having to evaluate everything. The post on thrifting last week made me think about some of the cool things in my house that I do own. Some weren’t very expensive, and in the case of some things, were completely free. Of all these items, probably my most favorite thing is the dinnerware set I own. These are the same plates, cups and bowls that I ate off of when I was growing up. Even back then I remember thinking that they were cool. When I was in my late twenties and saw that my parents had stopped using them, I went to my mom and asked her if she would let me take them home with me. Maybe it was nostalgia or maybe I recognized them as something special, I don’t know; all I can tell you is that I wanted them and my mom was happy to give them to me.
What I have is Franciscan Ware, or Franciscan Pottery as it was first named in 1934. It was manufactured by Gladding-McBean and Company of Glendale, California and they literally made thousands of patterns. The most popular now is probably the “Starburst” pattern they made between 1954 and 1957. If 1950’s modernism is something that you have even a remote interest in, you have either heard of, or seen, this pattern before.
But I don’t have “Starburst”, I have “Spice” – although I have no idea what spice this would be. Who knows these things? I’ll tell you who – experts who deal in this stuff every day – but when I called a few to ask they said they didn’t know either. There is a website, “Replacements”, that specializes in finding and selling (… you figured it out didn’t you?) replacement pieces for your collection. This stuff isn’t cheap, and the Starburst stuff is literally out of this world expensive (ba dum dumm). My Spice pattern is a bit of a wallet buster as well and what I’ve got is worth a small fortune – not that it matters, I’ll never sell it. I love using this china and feel badly when I think of all the pieces I broke as a child – although it wasn’t really my fault, my parents made emptying the dishwasher one of my daily chores starting when I was 2 years old. I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on them considering that they let me have all 300 … uhm … 287 pieces of it when I got older. I also think it says something about the expectations on 60’s era housewives because we literally have every imaginable serving piece – pickle boats, cocoa mugs, olive trays, etc. Everything – well, minus the 13 pieces … that my sister broke. Gotta be the perfect hostess right? Can’t serve a pickle without a pickle boat – that would be tragic.
You can even see some of the same design elements in this Spice pattern that are carry-overs from the Starburst pattern. At any rate, I thought I would share my one item of thrifting interest because this seems like exactly the sort of thing you could actually come across when looking for thrifting treasures. I hear all the time tales of the old couple who sells their mint-conditioned Barcelona chairs and ottomans for $50 (true story – I still hate you Scott W.) but that never happens to me. All I ever find are old issues of Mad magazine and National Geographic – and I’ve almost had my fill of naked native lady pictures.