11.16.2020

Blue Willow China


The ever popular Blue Willow china has made a resurgence in the last decade as more of us are completely leaning in to our "old is new again" desires. For me I have always loved blue and white china having seen it in a cabinet in my grandmother's breezeway for many years.  She collected two different items, amber glass + Delft.  I loved the beauty of the blue and white and how stunning it looked together and next to all of her beautiful wicker pieces.  It was something I stared out with my nose pressed to the glass for many years.  


My in laws had a collection of Blue Willow dishes they passed on to us early on in our marriage and my love for that pattern grew quickly.  We have plates, decorative pieces, more plates on the walls, and porcelain around the house.  I love how well it mixes with anything else I pair it with, from something new to an old oil painting.  It most definitely gets along well with others. 


I did some research yesterday after shopping a "Blue Willow Estate Sale" this weekend.  The woman was the president of the Blue Willow society and had the largest collection I have truly ever seen.  Before the estate sale took place they removed two truck loads of the best stuff leaving the rest for us to shop.  I am not sure what the best stuff looked like, but the remainder was some of the best items I have ever seen.  You may have spotted some of my purchases in my Instastories on Saturday afternoon, I scooped up quite a bit with a friend who asked me to join her.  It was insane the amount of pieces I saw, most I had never seen before.  While I grabbed up such goodness, I left a lot behind as well for others to shop.  It was truly so much fun and a great shopping score. 

While doing research I learned so many things I had no idea about with regards to the history of the china and the pattern. While it appears to have come from Chinese origin, it originated in England in 1780 by engraver Thomas Minton.  I will link the article I read and gleaned so much from, and will list out the facts that I found the most interesting for you below.  There are more than 140 variations on the original Chinoserie pattern, but the true blue willow has some details that must be included; willow trees, Chinese pine trees (commonly confused as apple or orange trees), a bridge with three men on it, a fence, a boat, a teahouse (or pagoda) and two birds in flight.


We have a mixture of dishes, some dating back to England and some from a more recent production and you can tell when you pick them up which ones are which.  I prefer the thicker of the dishes, and the more irregular the stamp the more it captures my heart.  I love mixing the bright willow blue plates along with some older pale blue Staffordshire plates on walls in the guest room.  Honestly, now that I think about it, we may have blue and white china in most rooms of our house.  While I will never be the avid collector that the homeowner was I do love collecting it myself.  Hopefully one day my children will love it as much as we do, or I will also be having quite the sale.  For now we truly enjoy shopping and collecting the beauty that is Blue Willow. 

Some facts I found particularly interesting ... 

1.  Blue Plate Specials (an entree + three sides) were named for the blue plates they were served on,
the divided blue willow dishes. 

2. Aunt Bee (The Andy Griffith Show) used her Blue Willow dishes when serving meals. 

3. Chinoiserie is named for European interpretation of Chinese decorative styles and 
began in the 18th century. 

4. Blue Willow has been in production since the 1700's and has never been out. 

5. Blue Willow is a transferware design and was made into Blue Flow when ammonia or lime was added to the transfers.



In this week's Shop Pink Clutch sales you will see so much of the finds I scored while shopping on Saturday.  I can't wait to share them with you, and to talk about decorating with tradition pieces this time of year.  I will end with a poem I found on Wikipedia ... and if you memorize it you will always be able to spot the correct Blue Willow china. 

Two birds flying high,
A Chinese vessel, sailing by.
A bridge with three men, sometimes four,
A willow tree, hanging o'er.
A Chinese temple, there it stands,
Built upon the river sands.
An apple tree, with apples on,
A crooked fence to end my song.

images of my house by Angie Webb Photo

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