Friday, 19 August 2011

Chipped but Cherished

This is some of my chintziest china- I've been collecting since I left home last year and needed to fill my own shelves. To inspire my devotion, Wares must possess a tooth-aching sweetness; anything from botanical motifs, ornate relief, fragile handles with rococo perforations, pearlescent glaze, hexagonal rims, gilt edging, pastoral scenes of fine ladies or sailing boats, sentiments such as 'a gift from Ramsgate' in Elizabethan font...

Why this fondness? Its that over-wrought prettiness combined with almost-repellent gaudiness of the pieces that draws me to them. I am particularly fond of Royal Ceremonial china, with their unflattering monarchical mugshots. But, more than their decorative or comical appeal, a sentimental part of my nature values these fussy ornaments for the esteem they undoubtedly once held. I imagine them presented to celebrate weddings or national events, proudly displayed in china cabinets, and brought out for celebratory teas. They're reminiscent of royalist street parties and high teas, of the chink of teaspoons against porcelain and Earl Grey in summer gardens. When abandoned and stashed in cardboard on a junk shop floor, original owners having died or moved away, the wares seem to demand salvation.

My sentimental side rejoiced when my house mate and I realised, at our first meeting, that we'd not only sought out the same dirt-cheap junk shop for our crockery, we'd even bought pieces from the same dusty dinner services that lay, in various states of completion, on the floor of said junk shop! There was something wonderful about the reconciliation of the divided items.

Last weekend, Dad ran the crockery smashing stall at our village show. For days beforehand, friends willingly relived their attics and barns of boxes of the most exquisite china. It nearly broke my heart to see their delicate contours smashed for sport...but now I have plenty of material for making mosaics, determined as I am to restore every pastel-coloured fragment to its former glory.

1 comment:

  1. You have some really sweet china :) If like me you enjoy lovely cups of tea, I hope you enjoy using them :)
    I can understand just how you felt hearing each china cup and saucer smash at the stall, I love english china and my heart does break a bit to see the prettiest just smash up, but I always hope they were used a lot for tea before otherwise such a shame for something so precious to smash. I raise my china teacup to you :) Cheers love!!