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I love my Fiesta dish collection. I have both vintage and contemporary collections and both continue to grow with new acquisitions.
macy's box
My newer Fiesta collection tends to grow in chunks – a new set of 8 bowls, plates or mugs will appear in boxes (often with that telltale red star on the side….curse you Macy’s – you give away my secret every time.)

My collection of vintage has grown more slowly – usually one piece at a time, although my new love-fest with pumpkin-colored OvenServe has grown more rapidly thanks to some vendors offering multiples of the same pieces.

When I view eBay or Etsy or LiveAuctioneer for new listings, I notice there are typically two approaches that sellers use: they either try to entice the plunderers with an intact collection, or they break it up piece-by-piece for the pluckers.

It seems the pluckers outnumber the plunderers – the collections often seem to languish without any nibbles. But I guess when a huge collection does sell, it temporarily tilts the scale in favor of that approach.

As a collector, I usually find my best deals one piece at a time. My frugal side insists on patient plucking. So what about you – do you go for the one-shot plunder and enjoy poring over your new haul? Or are you a picky picker, plucking your pieces one at a time? And can you say that five times fast?

Happy collecting,
Terry

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Before Christmas, I came across two Fiesta finds (okay, steals) on ebay.  One was a Riviera “Mexicana” platter that the seller had mismarked as Universal Potteries.  (A quick lookup with Google confirmed that Universal Potteries never made ANYTHING that looked like Riviera.)  The platters, whether solid or decaled like the one I bought, typically start at $25 and go up from there  I was the lone bidder so I got it for the opening bid of $12.99.

The other was a Kitchen Kraft cake plate for $0.99 that typically commands a $30 to $75 pricetag. The seller described it as “unmarked Fiesta plate,” but I knew what it was when I spotted the photo.

I felt like the American Pickers, except I only had to tap a few keystrokes and know what I was looking at to unearth my treasures.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Mr. Official and I scouted out the Fiesta dish “outlet” on Sevierville Highway as we headed home from Gatlinburg several weeks ago.  They had some nice vintage pieces, along with new factory seconds and (maybe) first quality items, which were overpriced. Shrug. We were in a tourist trap, so the markup was expected and it was still fun to look.

Among the vintage pieces was a stack of cream soup bowls they had tagged for $65 each.  Which is about the going rate if you have pristine-quality pieces and a willing buyer.  (I paid about $10 each for mine, and accepted a couple with chips in the mix.)  But, here’s the kicker:  they had marked them as onion soup bowls, which retail for about ten times that amount.

Now granted, for those of us living in 2012, we don’t usually differentiate between cream soup and onion soup bowls.  Even our fussiest china dishes probably have just a single bowl for each place setting, and it serves soup, cereal, ice cream, fruit, pudding or whatever requires a bowl.  But back in the day, there were special dishes and serving pieces for just about everything.  And whether you know Fiesta or not, there’s no mistaking these two pieces once you see them:

Cream soup bowls with lug handles
Onion soup bowls with Nautilus handles and lids

Let’s hope no unsuspecting buyer thinks they’re getting a steal based on the misleading tag, which could happen if you just know the Fiesta lore and know that onion soup bowls are exceedingly rare and expensive.

I have collected things just because I liked them, and didn’t really care what they were called or what they were worth because I wasn’t spending much on any of them.

a “pig in a poke”

In fact, that’s how my Fiesta collection began.  Along with several plant collections (roses, hostas, daylilies, heucheras…the list goes on.)

But I caution anyone who is ready to move from dabbling dilettante to serious collector to do your homework first. You don’t need to become a walking encyclopedia of details on the object of your desire, but at least know where to go for answers before you get caught up in the excitement of finding a treasure.  It might be a great buy, or it might turn out to be a proverbial “pig in a poke.”

I’ve found the more I learn about Fiesta, the more I appreciate the pieces I come across.  Sometimes I have the fun of unearthing a piece from the dark, dusty recesses of a salvage store.  I wipe away layers of dirt and grime to see it is, then try to act nonchalant as I hand it to the cashier.  Other times, I simply admire a gleaming, beautiful piece that is proudly displayed by someone who knows what they have, and what it’s worth. 

So what do you collect, and why do you love it?

Happy collecting,


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Not me, of course.  But some dangly, pretty, glass gewgaws to daintily swing and sway and cast rainbows on the walls with every twirl and move.

Yes, I’m speaking of a crystal-bedecked chandelier.

Before you yawn, I haven’t mentioned the location of this new light fixture.  It’s not in the usual  dining room or foyer.  It’s the master bathroom.

I’ve been intrigued by the fantasy of a bathroom chandelier since the mid-90s when a forward-thinking friend mentioned her interior decorator suggested one for her powder room. That was almost two decades ago – she (and her decorator) were way ahead of their time.  And for those of you who are thinking that electricity and water don’t mix, you’re right. I already checked it out:

National Electric Code 410.4(D) Bathtub and Shower Areas. No parts of cord-connected luminaires (fixtures), hanging luminaires (fixtures), lighting track, pendants, or ceiling-suspended (paddle) fans shall be located within a zone measured 900 mm (3 ft) horizontally and 2.5 m (8 ft) vertically from the top of the bathtub rim or shower stall threshold. This zone is all encompassing and includes the zone directly over the tub or shower stall.

Fortunately, the perfect spot in our new bathroom is already wired in a spot outside said range.  I can hang it just as soon as I take down the ceiling fan that’s there now.  (Which seems a tad more dangerous than a chandelier, if you ask me.  I think stories of flying fans and crashing chandeliers are mostly urban legends, concocted by ultra-cautious engineers and lawsuit-phobic lawyers. Seriously – has it ever happened to you or anyone you personally know?  Me neither.  Anyhoo.)

Oooh!  Did I mention the price? That’s truly the best part!

My inspiration for this project was this Pottery Barn chandelier.  (Sidenote: they have the coolest, most copy-able stuff.  I’m so glad we don’t have a PB store in town, because that might prove too much temptation for me. As it is, I only let myself venture into their stores only for inspiration.)

As much as I drooled over this photo, I knew there was no way I was spending $300 on a light, especially a (trendy) bathroom light.  Not when there were curtains and paint and other needs and wants to fulfill as we settle into our new digs.

They call it “Bellora” which I’m pretty sure is Italian for “beautiful and expensive”

I scoured our local Craigslist regularly, hoping someone might be ready to discard their PB or PB-esque chandelier, and I could snag their cast-off for half-price or so.  Instead, I found an ad for a chandelier, at the unbelievable price of $25. And the amber glass covers perfectly match the existing vanity lights.  But it was too tall.  Back on Craigslist it goes.

However, thanks to eBay, I snagged my knockoff for $150 including shipping – back in June.  It has hung out in my closet for six months; thanks to my awesome dad and middle son playing electrician over the Christmas holiday, winter bubble baths under the soft glow of a chandelier, here I come!

Of course, now that the chandelier is hung, I’m scheming 2012 projects, starting with revving up the decorating in the bathroom. First step is painting the walls. Then I hope to install some trim around the two vanity mirrors and trick out the tub alcove with some shelving and some window treatment.  It is more than a little bland, as you can see from the picture above.  I may – or may not – get our closets re-done this year (the wire racks are functional, but they don’t really inspire good organization or a desire to tackle the day when we open our closet doors each morning.)  But for today – just for today – I’m happy to look up and see this pretty new light in place.

Happy lighting,

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Buying off eBay can be fun and exciting.  And with some discipline, it can be a fairly (cough) inexpensive means of acquiring items that you want, especially those that are no longer readily available in stores.  Like my Fiesta dishes.  And my violet china.  And my Christmas village pieces.

But as the saying goes, occasionally, there’s a fly in the ointment.  And this past year, I had two ointment incidents – and my guess is they were equally frustrating for the sellers.  The first involved my “lucky #7 red bowl.”  Well, it wasn’t so lucky.  When the USPS driver handed the box to me, it rattled.  I told him it shouldn’t rattle.  We opened it then and there, to find shards and chips rattling around what was left of the cracked bowl. The seller graciously and promptly refunded my money, but that meant I was – and am – still short the seventh bowl.  One of these days, another one in good quality at a good price will come up and I’ll snag it, but sometimes you’re ready for the hunt to be over, and I was at that point.

More recently, the UPS driver left a box at my door that also rattled ominously when I picked it up.  It was supposed to be the Granville house from “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  Well, apparently UPS’ aim was better than George’s – they not only broke out a window, but busted up the whole place. All the kings horses and men couldn’t put this thing back together again.  Like the Fiesta bowl, it’s disappointing for all concerned. In the big scheme of things, it’s a minor tempest in a tiny little teacup, but once again, I’m left without the item that I had really hoped to have and display.

So why am I writing this?  To vent, yes. And to caution sellers of one-of-a-kind items to take extra precautions when preparing them for shipment.  An extra layer or two of bubble wrap, snugged up nice and tight, can mean the difference between a successful transaction and one that leaves everyone feeling the pain.

I’d lump in the drivers and package sorters into my little list of transgressors, but to be honest, those guys do a tremendous job, day in and day out.  I can’t expect them to treat every package like they’re carrying afternoon tea to the Queen.

And I guess I will make it a point from here on out to remind/plead for extra-careful packaging on any future eBay wins.  Then cross my fingers that the box doesn’t make a clink when it shouldn’t.

Happy (?) collecting,

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I don’t know about you, but I’m neck-deep in my annual Christmas tree trim-a-thon, with four trees getting all decked out.  If you stop by for a visit, be prepared:  this week my house looks like Hobby Lobby exploded, with tubs and bags and boxes strewn around.  It was clean last week and it’ll be clean next week but there’s just no way to put up Christmas decorations without making a mess.  If there is, please let me know – I haven’t found it yet.

The first one to go up was my kitchen tree.  For years I gave up precious kitchen counter space to a small kitchen tree, decorated with vintage cookie cutters from my childhood, cinnamon “gingerbread” ornaments and other kitchen items.

This year brought us to a new house with a bigger kitchen. That could only mean only one thing, right?  Bring on a bigger kitchen tree!  I spied a 5-foot alpine-type tree on sale before Thanksgiving, and I dragged it home.

But long before I “felled” the new tree, I was hunting down Fiesta ornaments.  I snagged some off eBay and a few more at the October Nashville Flea Market – an even dozen Fiesta disks and  miniature pitchers.   It’s not enough to fill the entire tree, but it gave it a theme.  Then I tucked in old and reproduction kitchen utensils and hung my Christmas cookie cutters and used ric-rac in Fiesta turquoise, red, orange, yellow and chartreuse to hang everything.

As I began writing this post, I assumed I would find countless other Fiesta collectors’ Christmas trees on parade in blogs and websites. In fact, I had high hopes of finding some inspiring ideas to copy – after all, Fiesta has been making and licensing ornaments for quite some time.  But I found nary a mention of a Fiesta Christmas tree.  C’mon, fellow pottery lovers – surely there are other collectors who do a Christmas homage to your favorite dishes, too!

Without further ado, here’s my new kitchen tree, next to the hutch filled with my vintage Fiesta pieces:

And here’s the “big picture” view, with my new eBay bargains: a Fiesta Riviera platter and Kitchen Kraft cake plate (plus my existing Kitchen Kraft red and green bowls) perched merrily on top of the hutch.  The vintage tins in the apple basket beneath the tree are on standby – next week they’ll start filling up with homemade candies and cookies, then stored in the freezer until time to serve or make up plates of sweet treats to give away.

And here’s Luci, who has decided this is HER favorite tree – at least until the others are up and she can check each of them for napping spots.

So how many trees do YOU decorate?  I try not to play favorites, but I really do heart this tree and I smile every time I pass by it.  (Don’t tell the other trees, please? They are special, too!)

Happy Christmas decorating,

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Fiesta: Bowl Games

Not the Tostitos brand of Fiesta Bowl game. That’s not for another 98 days.  (Not that I’m counting, or anything.)

No, this is about my fascination with mixing bowls, namely Fiesta.  We might characterize it as a preoccupation, perhaps.  I don’t think it’s an obsession; not yet, anyway.  (Others might have a different opinion.)

The bowl that started it all.

It all started innocently enough.  On one of my many antique/junk store forays (back before eBay dragged everything right to the virtual doorstep of my metaphorical “cave”), I was looking for Fiesta pieces and came across a small turquoise mixing bowl.  I had no idea of its significance, I just knew I liked it.  It–like many pieces of Fiesta you might find gathering dust in the back of an antique store–was not in perfect condition – it had a a few chips and dings. But I thought it would look nice with the rest of my pieces and it was just a few bucks.

For several years, it remained my only bowl.

Until I came across another one.

With the second bowl came the realization they came in various sizes and colors.  (This was still in the pre-Google and eBay era, before everything you could possibly want to know – or buy – could be hunted down with a few keystrokes.)

It was an epiphany of sorts.

And it started me on an odyssey that has spanned more than a decade.   Piece by piece, bowl by bowl, I’ve slowly accumulated bowls along with an appreciation and familiarity with the shapes and sizes in the Fiesta and Kitchen Kraft line.

In case you’re curious, the Kitchen Kraft line has a trio of bowls, and there are seven bowls in the Fiesta set.  The bowl prices range from $10-$25 for smaller or banged-up bowls with chipped rims or large cracks, to several hundred  for bowls in good to perfect condition.   A set of seven nesting bowls commands a price of $1000 on eBay these days.  (That’s what they ask for them; I have no idea who buys them for that price.)  If you find bowls with lids, the price goes into the stratosphere – a single bowl with matching lid can go for $1000 or more.  Crazy, huh?

For the past few years, I have enjoyed displaying a full set of three Kitchen Kraft bowls, and all but the largest Fiesta bowl proudly in my kitchen.  That bowl (known as #7) is relatively rare and therefore relatively expensive.

Kitchen Kraft bowls on the left; Fiesta on the right.  Yes I have 8 of them; 2 are duplicates.

I limited myself to paying no more than $50 for any single bowl, which placed most of the large bowls firmly out of range. And so you can  imagine my surprise and delight when I saw this red #7 bowl for $50 a few days ago.

Lucky #7, I can’t wait to see you in person!

I had to go up to $56 to win it, but it’s on its way to me and will complete my set.


Of course, there ARE other Fiesta and Homer Laughlin bowls to collect…stay tuned!

Happy collecting,

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It’s raining violets…

I’ve been on an eBay binge, and I’ve got a whopping hangover to prove it. Overwhelming evidence is mounting daily in the form of boxes delivered to my door, each one filled with pretty pieces of violet-strewn china. Plates, cups, saucers, bowls, serving pieces…oh my. 

I realized I haven’t even updated my weekly menu in two weeks.  (I have been cooking, though. And baking bread.)  Not so much on the cleaning, though. Sorry Flylady.  So how does this wanton behavior square with my resolution to make this a frugal February? Well….it doesn’t.  (Hey, at least I’m honest with myself.)

But in my defense:

1. It was a dirt cheap fling. Apparently no one else is thinking violets this time of year. (HELLO!!! Violets are the official flower of February, AND it’s almost Valentine’s Day!?!?!)  My nose for bargains rooted out pieces so cheap, the shipping was often more than the pieces themselves. In fact, most of my purchases have averaged about a buck apiece. For vintage china in GREAT condition. Don’t everybody rush to eBay all at once…I’ve still got a few pieces I’m eyeballing and I’d like to snatch them up without any competition, thank-you-very-much.

2.  It was in lieu of any birthday gifts.  (Last year’s Dutch oven and tickets to see Josh Turner at the Grand Ol’ Opry were wonderful surprises but this year I advised Mr. Official that I’d save him the trouble of figuring out what to buy me.)

Once everything arrives, I’ll have enough pieces to throw a proper (if modern) tea party for a dozen or two friends. And I took a neglected area of our home and made it into something useful and joyful to behold. Stay tuned for upcoming posts. One will have the before-and-after shots, and another will feature some nifty, thrifty ways to make a china hutch display pop and sizzle.  (Because “staid” and “traditional” just aren’t in my repertoire.)

Now where’s the Tylenol?

Happy  Friday!

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