I love looking to the past for ideas and inspiration about the future. In my entertaining files at home, I have hundreds of tears from magazines dating back to 1870! Here's a sparkling trip down memory lane from a holiday story I did with my friend, photographer Ann Stratton, for the December 2004 issue of House Beautiful. So bring on the bubbly, everyone! It's a lustrous New Year's to remember.
For this story, I was inspired, as I often am, from a trip to the flea market. It was a brisk and overcast morning in November as a growing crowd of vendors gathered at the Elephant's Trunk Country Flea Market in New Milford, CT. Perhaps you might remember a more recent trip we took in the spring? On this day, though, it wasn't long before I scored a set of blue lusterware plates so unusual and pretty, they were the perfect start to a table setting story full of vibrant color and sparkly sheen.
The plates display a thistle pattern that I thought worked well for holiday. Lusterware has such a beautiful sheen to it that's achieved by applying a metallic solution to the porcelain surface before the final firing. It comes in a variety of colors, including purple and pink, two of my favorites I used for a Tartan Thanksgiving last month. The box, an inexpensive purchase from a craft store, I simply painted blue, then glued white ricrac around the edges. I punched a hole in the lid, filled a plastic container with water, then did an all-white arrangement of tulips, dusty miller and roses, tied with ribbon. I loved the idea of giving each guest a gift of flowers to remember the evening. Well before that, however, the table began, as it always does, with a beautiful mess.dearly departed Domino. I found it at a junk shop in Maine for about 25 dollars, but after appearing with antiques experts Ray and Terry Kovel on Martha's old show, I learned that it's actually Danish hotel silver, probably from the 20s—and worth a whole lot more! The glasses are vintage Steuben with a rich, saturated blue, the perfect pairing to the lusterware plates. Here's a detail of one of my own Christofle forks with an MG monogram (remember it here?), together with a set of mother-of-pearl knives, the likes of which I haven't yet unearthed from storage! Until then, there's always these. Brimfield for 20 dollars, along with antique mercury glass candlesticks similar to these.
Finally, for the bubbly, the tall flutes are Venetian glass, while the shorter ones are handblown from France, a lucky purchase when my favorite prop house in the city closed. For my own tasty take on a classic Prosecco cocktail, along with an easy and elegant hors d'oeuvre, click here.