Thursday, September 3, 2009

Blue and White China

I love blue and white china. Here are a couple of pictures from my dining room, just to prove it. It seems I'm not the only one--I discovered this wonderful painting of a woman with a blue and white china ruff and bonnet at an exhibition at Vascoeuil Castle in Normandy this summer. The image above is a watercolor done by my daughter Isabella (aka DD), using my blue and white Delft teapot for inspiration. She claims to prefer Fiesta Ware for herself, but she's still young.

It's funny--my collection started entirely by accident, when one of my former high school teachers called me up one summer during my college years. He said that he and his wife were divorcing; he was moving back in with his parents in northern Indiana and he didn't know what to do with his half of their china service. He thought my sister and I might want it. I said yes, sight unseen, and he arrived with four blue and white English ironstone plates, cups, saucers and bowls. Sorry as I was for his misfortune, I was immediately smitten with the dishes and a life-long love affair began. Fortunately when my sister moved to a different apartment she left the blue and white for me, and the rest is history.

I probably have two hundred pieces by now, and I love them all. Many I bought for myself and many were bought for me by family and friends. My DM (darling mother) contributed at least a couple of dozen pieces, often precariously mailed through the diplomatic pouch. The collection traveled the world with me; at one point, during the 1993 military mutiny in the Central African Republic, I thought I had lost it, but it all eventually arrived at our new home in Djibouti. Fortunately the Foreign Legionnaires who occupied our house during the hostilities were honest and had no interest in china.

There was a time when I couldn't pass up a nice blue and white piece at an antique store, but my passion for collecting has cooled somewhat and now I enjoy rearranging them in our castle, finding new uses for them, and setting a pretty table occasionally. I'm still on the lookout for a covered vegetable dish that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, having passed up many beautiful but expensive ones, however regretfully, many times.

Thank you, Mr. DeBeck, wherever you are.

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