13 August 2011
Sometimes it's nice to sit in solitary reverie with one cup, one head of thoughts, perhaps one handicraft to occupy the hands when not drinking from the cup... and sometimes it feels ever so much nicer to lay a second place at the tea table, or on the picnic blanket, or next to you on the famous monument steps... just to know that you are not alone in your lifelong quest for Great Tea Experiences... Who says both sets must be the same? A multi-place table setting with matching dishes does indeed have an elegance, an organization about it that can't be beat; if, however, your taste takes you to the realm of qurikdom now and then, come along and mix it up with the best of 'em.
Today's examples are by two of the most venerable houses in British ceramics history: Dorothy Perkins by Copeland Spode, and Kutani Crane by Wedgwood. The D. Perkins design is a magenta transfer on white bone china; every leaf, flower, and decoration that is not magenta transfer was applied by hand with delicate strokes of tiny brushes, including the apricot lustre enamel on the scalloped edges. This is a mid-20th Century set.
The Kutani Crane, meanwhile, is a polychrome transfer -- a very, very well-done assemblage of multicolor decals, if you will, with the only hand-applied color being the dark brown edges and handle accent. This pattern was recreated from an earlier design and was made by Wedgwood from 1971 through 1998. This cup shape is called Leigh, and it reminds us of a perfect egg.
Different techniques, different feel to each set, but both are wonderful to see up close and to drink from (especially if Trixie makes the tea that goes in them, because she is what the English call a dab hand at the tea-making). These are not flimsy pieces, they are made to last, and -- if you keep them well away from the automatic dishwasher! -- can be used often and enjoyed, as we plan to enjoy them, for decades to come. (Go Stoke!!)