With stripes the blue of the ocean and the white of cresting waves, the Cornishware filling my hutch has all the coastal spring and summer vibes!
A New Hutch Display
I tend to get really grumpy about the weather here this time of year.
In fact, April just might be my least favorite month of the year.
Yes, you heard me right.
April here seems to be chilly and gray on repeat.
You see, that big wet weather-maker out my windows (aka, the ocean) is just 40˚ right now. And it keeps us pretty firmly planted in the 40’s most days. A day in the low 50’s is a gift!
There are a few small signs of spring outside. The grass is starting to green up. Some daffodils are blooming. The forsythia should pop in a couple weeks. The lupines have broken ground in the field. And of course the weeds are already starting to stake their claim on my flower beds.
But I want more! So, while I usually take my decorating cues from what is happening outside, right now I can’t help adding spring to the house (and even skipping right to summer sometimes).
It is actually spring, after all. It just doesn’t feel much like it.
So, on Sunday, when it was cold and gray, I busied myself filling our big pine hutch with my collection of Cornishware.
With its stripes the blue of the ocean and the white of cresting waves, Cornishware has all the coastal spring and summer vibes!
But wait, do you know what Cornishware is??
What is Cornishware?
Cornishware is iconic striped pottery made by the British company T.G. Green. They produce it all — plates, bowls, serving dishes, mugs, pitchers, tea and coffee pots, egg cups, and more! These days they even make dog and cat feeding bowls!
They are probably best known, though, for their distinctively-shaped storage jars in varying sizes, with black lettering indicating the contents.
I favor their original blue and white colorway, but Cornishware now comes in red, green, yellow, black, pink, orange, and other specialty colors. The newest color is Blackberry, a purple hue created for Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee, and now made permanent due to popular demand.
The Cornishware Story
T.G. Green, named for founder Thomas Goodwin Green, began production of the happy blue and white striped Cornishware I love so well in the early 1920’s. Though Cornishware’s only connection to Cornwall is that a Cornish quarry is the source of the clay used to make it, legend has it that the “blue of the Cornish skies and the white crest of the waves” inspired the pottery’s name and signature colors. One advertisement described it similarly: “Blue of the Atlantic — White of the Cornish Clouds — Glisten of the Sea”
Cornishware quickly grew in popularity, and sold well for decades, through the ebb and flow of social and economic tides. But towards the end of the 20th century, T.G. Green began to struggle seriously due to competition from overseas manufacturers and a lack of investors.
In 2007, the company closed, only to be resurrected in 2008 by new owners. The new company moved manufacturing overseas, with the intention of eventually bringing it back to Britain.
Full repatriation was achieved in 2021, meaning Cornishware is once again made by hand in Britain using the traditional methods and Cornish clay.
During the pandemic, with consumers focused on their homes, online sales skyrocketed and the business doubled in size.
Right now the future appears bright and colorful for Cornishware!
How is Cornishware Made?
Skilled artisans create each piece of Cornishware by hand!
Special “china clay” from the coastal Cornwall town of St. Austell is liquefied and then poured into a mould to shape it.
Once the piece has hardened, it is removed from the mould and fully air-dried to reduce the chance of breaking and cracking when it goes in the kiln.
After the first firing, it is time for the decorators to “hand-band” the stripes! This process involves a turning wheel (similar to what a potter uses) and a steady hand! An experienced decorator can decorate 300 pieces a day.
The stripes on pieces with handles are created using an applied wax method and then dipped in paint.
After decorating, the pieces go back in the kiln twice more — once to set the paint and lastly to add the shiny glaze.
You can read more about Cornishware’s history and production on the Cornishware website. Watching the video of the stripes being painted is rather mesmerizing!
And for all the details on Cornishware, you can listen to the podcast The Magic Behind Iconic Kitchenware Company Cornishware With Charles & Rebecca Rickards. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I have added it to my list!
My Cornishware Collection
My Cornishware Collection began as unwittingly as most collections do — with the purchase of a single piece from a local antiques mall. I have a thing for blue and white stripes and found the small pitcher charming.
Shortly after I posted a picture of this and another Cornishware pitcher on my Instagram feed, someone who was selling off her large collection reached out to me. (How she could bear to part with it, I don’t know!)
It was the spring of 2020 and we were still mostly on lockdown. But I agreed to meet this stranger in the parking lot (outdoors!) of a New Hampshire state liquor store right off of I-95.
It all sounds rather nefarious, doesn’t it?!
I was determined to grow my collection. And grow it did — by leaps and bounds!
The haul I got that day still constitutes the majority of my collection, though I have since purchased a few additional pieces and received some as gifts.
I am no expert on Cornishware, so my collection consists of both both older and newer pieces. As with all my collections, I buy what appeals to my eye. I go for an interesting mix of shapes and sizes.
Starting Your Own Collection
Vintage Cornishware can be hard to find in the U.S. I have found a few pieces at local antiques stores. You can also find it online on sites such as Etsy and EBay.
You can order new Cornishware directly from the Cornishware Website. Several times a year they have a seconds sale, with discounted prices on pieces that aren’t quite perfect.
Fellow blogger, New Englander, and Cornishware-lover Danielle from Finding Silver Pennies wrote about her experience ordering Cornishware directly from England in her post Collecting Cornishware. Danielle stores her Cornishware in a pine hutch similar to mine! Be sure to tell her I say “hi” when you head over to her blog!
This Year’s Hutch Display
This is the fourth year I have displayed my Cornishware collection in the dining room hutch. This year I decided to go with a different arrangement!
I wanted something a little more free-flowing and organic. Kind of like if I had just stuck pieces up there without really thinking about it.
Except of course I did think about it — sort of.
Even when arranging a display on the fly, as I did here, you should keep in mind balance, size, and height.
I started with the plates and platters that form the background. Then I added the larger bowls and pitchers. Lastly, I filled in with the smaller objects.
Stack objects to add height! I like to stack bowls in a sort of haphazard way for a casual look and so that you get a peek of the inside bowl. Sometimes I need to add something inside the larger bowl to support the smaller one. Bubble wrap works well!
You will notice that I broke up the stripes with a few non-striped items. These help draw the eye through the arrangement and add interest.
For fun, I tucked a ceramic lobster mould into one bowl. Keep things playful!
For texture to contrast with all the shiny smooth pottery, I placed some cookbooks in the basket I used for my Easter table centerpiece. It, along with the wooden bowls and basket on the top of the hutch, adds warmth to the otherwise cool-colored display.
When I had everything on the shelves, I stood back and took it all in. I made a few tweaks, and then called it done!
Don’t sweat a casual arrangement like this — you don’t want it to be perfect!
I will keep this Cornishware display in my hutch through at least Thanksgiving, adding seasonal touches as we head through the spring into summer and fall.
These are just a few of the ways I decorated it last year!
Which is your favorite? Or do you like it just plain like it is now?
The Coming Week
I don’t really have much planned for the week ahead.
The weather forecast doesn’t look great (I sound like a broken record….) but my favorite nursery is open and I hope to make it down there to get some pansies for pots on the front steps.
On Saturday I am meeting with my landscape guy to talk about plans for the slope leading down to the waterside lawn. We are also going to look at large rocks. It seems ridiculous, but we are going to need to purchase rocks. And dirt. Maybe I will buy some air and sunshine while I am at it… That said, I am excited about moving ahead with this project!
Lastly, my Minnesota daughter/SIL/grandson are visiting my D.C. daughter/SIL/granddaughter. I can hardly wait to see photos of the cousins’ first get-together!!
I hope you enjoyed this post on Cornishware and that you learned something new or got an idea or two to add beauty or creativity to your life!
Be well, friends!