Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blue Willow China

Over the past year, I have come to greatly admire Blue Willow china, and I guess I'm not alone. Many claim that it is the most widely collected china pattern in history. It's sort of hard not to like, with it's blue pagodas and Chinese hillsides, the two doves kissing at the top and the geometric chinoiserie trim.

The famous Blue Willow pattern originated in Staffordshire, England in 1790. Thomas Minton, owner of the Thomas Minton & Sons factory, specialized in domestic tableware, specifically blue and white transferware on bone china. At the time, Chinese themed objects were extremely popular (sounds familiar), so it didn't take long for this widely sought after pattern to reach the states.

Of course, there is a Chinese legend that tells the story of the Blue Willow pattern. Whether this pattern was created to tell the story, or the story created to fit the pattern, we will never know. But, the story is a charming one and the synopsis is this:

The large house located toward the right side of the pattern (nestled among a variety of trees) is the home of a wealthy Mandarin man who had a beautiful daughter. His daughter mistakenly fell in love with her father's humble assistant, a boy within a lower social class (who lived in the small servants quarters across the bridge, toward the lower left side of the pattern). Since the young girl was arranged to marry the powerful Duke, her father dismissed the young man and built a high fence around his house to keep the lovers apart (this fence is seen at the lower edge of the pattern).

The Duke would occasionally visit his future bride, and on one occasion, he brought her a jewelry box full of jewels as a gift. Defying the rules of her father, the young girl would escape to meet her lover at the base of the willow tree, near the bridge (which is near the center of the plate), and one night, she gave him the box of jewels that the wealthy Duke had given her. To represent the story, there are three figures on the bridge: the angry Mandarin father (carrying a whip), the young boy (with the jewelry box) and the young daughter.

By springtime, the wedding was to take place, and the Duke arrived to claim his bride. However, it was too late-- the two had taken the jewels and escaped. They settled in a small house on an island (pictured in the top left of the pattern). When the Duke discovered that his bride was gone, he became furious and ordered the two to be put to death.

To protect the young lovers, the Gods transformed both of them into a pair of turtle doves, so that they could be together for eternity (pictured at the top center of the pattern).

This pattern has a romantic story, which makes it even more special to own. Whether you use it as dinnerware, or hang it on the wall to decorate your dining space, the blue and white chinoiserie makes a striking impression. I try to collect as much Blue Willow as I can afford, and right now I have 6 dinner plates, 2 side plates, and a set of nesting bowls listed in my shop.

Williams-Sonoma Home has recently launched their new line of Blue Willow reproductions. New pieces include footed bowls, gravy boats, pitchers, covered dishes, and square salad bowls... all are gorgeous and would make for a complete serving set.

If you only have a few pieces of Blue Willow china, I think using them as wall decor will make the biggest impact.

None of these plates are Blue Willow, but wouldn't it be beautiful if they were?


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Yellow Citrine

I am loving the punchy colors this spring: aqua, grapefruit, lemon, and lime. The color combination is cool and refreshing-- like adding just the right amount of "Palm Beach" to your room. It's different, and a bit of a departure from the bold peacock blues, and eggplant purples that we've seen so much of lately (wait, I still love you "Hot House Flowers!"). Palmer Weiss is no stranger to this color scheme. I love how this designer mixes traditional neutral pieces with bright pops of yellow citrine! The whole room feels fresher, doesn't it?

I went through my files and found even more inspiring rooms with this fabulous color scheme...

J.Crew is also pushing this trend for Spring. Cashmere sweaters in every sherbert color you could imagine.

Even for Bridesmaids! Wow. That's bright.

Sorry, this girl has nothing to do with this post, I just wish I were her (and that I could pull off that outfit).


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

High Street Market is turning 1!

My little online shop turned 1 today. It has been a labor of love, and I want to give a huge thanks to everyone who has supported me (especially, my partner in crime who travels to the flea markets with me every weekend and puts up with my obsessive collecting habits, I love you).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sharp Dressed... Office

My office is a mess. Total mess. And, organizing it should be a priority, but for some reason it's not and the room continues to function despite the extreme disfunction. There are boxes piled in the corner, and samples stacked under the desk. The closet is a sad home to old project binders, and none of the art (designated for the office) is hung on the wall... but, at least I know where everything is. I really should show this room some love one of these days. To find some decent motivation, I look to these very sharply dressed (slightly masculine) offices.

First image designed by Andrew Halliday and David Greer (via Habitually Chic); second image via Domino archives; third and fourth images from Carrier & Company; fifth image from M. Design Interiors


Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday's Etsy Shop: Alyssa Ettinger Design

Happy Friday! I wanted to share the work of the fantastically talented artist, Alyssa Ettinger. Her amazing pottery has been featured everywhere from Martha Stewart Weddings, to The New York Times. Yes, she is very accomplished to say the least.

Knitware Vase -- flat mod cable, $150.00

Her knitware vase in Martha Stewart Weddings!

I adore these tall "knitted" ceramic vases... they really are terrific. Check out her Etsy shop here, where she sells these gorgeous textured vases as well as a new milk bottle series, exclusive to Etsy shoppers! And, --bonus-- if you live near Brooklyn, you could attend one of her workshops! Alyssa's Textural Tile Making Workshop will introduce students to using clay and ceramics with everyday textural objects like shells, leaves, fabric, etc... Click here for more information!

Visit her professional website for even more information!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Please? Can I go?

I need to get outdoors and maybe take a vacation (update: definitely take a vacation, not maybe). It's cloudy and rainy here, so right now, these breezy pictures are making me happy. I wish I could go "there" and chill out for a while... where no one talks to me and all I can hear are singing birds and water splashing.

Top image from Schappacher White, Ltd. ; second image from Martha Stewart Living ; third image unknown ; fourth image Michael Smith (Cindy Crawford's Mailbu home); fifth image from To Catch a Thief (thanks, Courtney!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday's Etsy Shop: artgoodies

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! I plan on relaxing at home with the windows open because it will be 77 degrees and sunny on Saturday! Finally. For now, enjoy this knock-out gorgeous New York kitchen, owned by Katie Lee Joel and designed by my (make believe) boyfriend, Nate Berkus.

Speaking of beautiful kitchens... I want to share a fabulous new Etsy Store with you, called artgoodies. I have my eye on the awesome red lobster towel, but isn't the assortment of colors and animals wonderful? I love how these graphic kitchen towels bring so much personality. And, bonus, artgoodies sells aprons too!

SPECIAL RED Lobster Block Print Towel, $12.00

Quail, block print towel, $15.00

Sailboat, block print towel, $15.00

Build your own six pack! $84.00

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More Saturated Florals...

Both images from the May 2009 issue of Elle Decor

Image from the May 2009 issue of House Beautiful.

A cashmere and silk hand-printed textile from Rani Arabella. I love the colors here, but the price is a little out of my league at $1,245.00 for a 49" x 79" piece.

"Jaipur" cermaic platter by designer Suvir Saran

This gorgeous serving platter, by designer Suvir Saran at American Masala, was inspired by the saturated florals within many Indian textiles. $150.00 at American Masala
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