Out with the new, in with the old

by Heather

Russel parsley stack

I enjoy using vintage dinnerware and cookware every day in the kitchen. Not only because it’s reuse–as in reduce, reuse, recycle–but because vintage things have soul, go so beautifully with my vintage house, and were build to last. They’ve already stood the test of time. We’re all survivors here in this little kitchen.

The challenge in this is that I like the things I use every day to be dishwasher safe, particularly the dinnerware. I don’t mind washing the dishes by hand on a special occasion, but I’m not up for that every day.

I’ve found plates and bowls in a great pattern made starting in the 50s (Metlox Jamestown Provincial) that are printed with “Dishwasher safe” on the back–and they are. I have it in all white. The rims look like they’re connected with little rivets.

One challenge with using vintage dinnerware is that you’re limited to the pieces that were made in the past. Usually this is more pieces than we use now, but pasta bowls, for example, weren’t part of vintage patterns. However, while browsing at an antique mall a couple years ago, I found a shallow 8″ vegetable serving bowl that’s absolutely perfect as a pasta bowl, and yesterday I bought two more.

The pattern is Russel Wright’s Iroquois Casual China (shown above, in the parsley green color I bought yesterday). This line is real vitreous china, made in a number of different solid color glazes. Russel and his wife Mary (whose influence can be clearly seen in Russel’s work) were the Martha Stewart of their era. When Iroquois Casual came out, they made an ad that showed them throwing an entire set onto a metal table, and damaging only one piece. I don’t have an entire set yet, but none of the pieces I have has ever chipped or cracked.

If only my new things were that sturdy. Mugs are another item that are better than ever today in terms of sizes, shapes, patterns, and ease of use. I have a small collection of Emma Bridgewater mugs, and today while I was unloading the dishwasher, I accidentally dropped one. It didn’t end well for the mug … it’s in multiple pieces in my recycling cart as I type (so happy my city accepts broken ceramics and glass). RIP Zinnias mug. I think it was a Christmas present just last year.

I’m sad to see it go, but I’m looking forward to using my new-old pasta bowls. I just learned while writing this post that the pattern was produced from 1947-1967, the year I was born, so these bowls are at least as old as I am, and quite probably older. I feel like I’ve completed some kind of circle by bringing them home and putting them into service once again.

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