How To Wash & Care For Antique China, Vintage Glass, Silverware & Other Fine Tableware

(It’s More That “Just A Tradition!”) At holiday time, we all bring out the fancy china and silverware —  the old china and silverware if we are lucky enough to have it. Age, material, and condition issues…


Taylor, Smith & Taylor “Ever Yours” China

The “Ever Yours” invitation set by Taylor, Smith & Taylor Co. (TS&T) of Ohio, a 53-piece service for eight, including 10 hostess pieces.

Your choice of nine patterns by designer John Gilkes… all over-proof, dishwasher-proof, detergent-proof.

Made by the makers of Taylorton, Modern American Casual China.

Vintage ad found in the May 1961 issue of Good Housekeeping.

You can find out more about TS&T and John Gilkes here.

DIY China Jewelry Display

I have very mixed feelings about modifying or changing antique and vintage things, but when I saw this project converting plates (and a candlestick) into a jewelry holder I thought it would be a wonderful way to salvage china pieces, bring them out of the boxes and shadows and back to life.

I’ve seen this done before, but all the tiers were plates, and it became a nice tidbit tray for serving cookies, etc. Having the tea cup saucer on top makes for an excellent lip for hanging wire earrings!

Wouldn’t this be a fabulous way to share an antique, but incomplete, family heirloom china set? It would make it easier to share the family china with each one of your children!

The Stuff Collectors Nightmares Are Made Of

Picture it… A vending machine filled with glassware, china, and porcelain figurines… You insert a coin, a piece of fragile china slowly moves forward — only to fall into the bottom of the machine, breaking.

Calm down — it’s only art!

A set of three interactive sculptural pieces by Yarisal and Kublitz. Called Passive/Aggressive Anger Release Machine, the artists claim that once you deposit the coin and shatter the breakable the experience leaves you “happy and relieved of anger.”

I doubt that it works for collectors of glassware, ceramics, pottery, etc.

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Lessons In Cold Paint From The Pirate Duck

I purchased this vintage wall pocket awhile ago simply for it’s whimsy; what’s not to love about a pirate duck?

It simply has to ‘quack’ you up — or you’ll be forced to walk the plank, arr!

It’s a vintage ceramic piece, made in Japan, rather nicely painted under the glaze with additional spots of cold paint on the bow and hat.

“Cold paint” refers to paint which has been applied after the pottery piece has been both glazed and fired. Because this painting is done after firing and is not fired (heated) itself it is called “cold paint,” “cold painted,” or “cold painting.” And because cold painting was done to save money, the results were not only less expensive but cheap in terms of quality: Paint applied over a glaze easily slides or washes off.

However, as this was such a common manufacturing method, most collectors expect such wear and are more accepting of such missing paint than they are of chips, quacks cracks — or puns.

In fact, while vintage cold painted ceramic and pottery pieces with the majority or all of the paint intact will sell for much higher prices, if the cold paint looks too good to be true, it could be a sign that the piece may be a repro (reproduction) and not vintage at all.

So the missing paint on this little vintage ducky wallpocket may just be the proof that it is great pirate booty. *wink*

…Now if someone could just tell me what the heck I’m supposed to put in a wallpocket — that won’t risk damages to the china.

UPDATE: Give the down-sized space issues while we restore the old house, I’ve listed this cute duckling pirate for sale at Etsy.

Vintage China Nightlights

At a local antique mall, the Moorhead Antique Mall, I spotted another idea for salvaging vintage china pieces: turning tea cup saucers into nightlights.

I’ve also seen old cups (with and without saucers) turned into night lights (or night lamps), like this one by micah7:

But I think that since the vertical saucers are flatter and nearer to the wall, they are less likely to be damaged by an inattentive person vacuuming. (But maybe that’s just a problem at my house?)

I’ve never tried making night lights from china pieces, but if you want to give it a try, here are a few helpful “how to” links:

Cutting ceramics with a wet saw

How To Cut Plates Using Two Wheeled Cutters

How to cut a plate using Leponitt Cutters

Wielding your wheeled cutters

Also, your local hardware store may offer cutting services for a fee.

Salvaging Mismatched Or Damaged China Pieces

I like to use my vintage things, where appropriate (and sometimes I make up uses for things). I feel it really continues the life of old things. I also don’t like to let anything go to waste, even if it’s broken or damaged; but I’m especially reluctant if it was a part of my collection.

Broken china, for example, can break your heart; but sometimes you can salvage or recycle it. Even if you can’t make jewelry from it.

I suppose most people have discovered that the odd, mismatched china saucers, custard cups, and whatever all those little shallow bowls are, can readily be put back into use at the table simply by placing candles in them — or by setting candles in clear glass and/or candles in clear tea lights upon the old china pieces.

It’s an especially lovely way to have them still sit at the table, lighting the more perfect pieces while you dine.

But what about those antique china cups with the handles broken off?

I’m sure you probably have a set of those metal candle stands sitting around somewhere…

Usually they have glass candle holders in them. Well, when my glass candle dish broke, I realized I could set one of my (many) handless china cups in them.

This works with most of these candle stands; even if they vary somewhat in diameter, you’ll find that the sloping sides of china cups eventually meet a secure resting place.

You can also stagger the candle heights by surrounding the cups recycled into metal candle stands with cups without stands, small dishes with candles, and plates with tea lights.

Not only does this salvage your old china pieces (and, I daresay, add another layer of interest and elegance to your table setting or home), but you’ll finally use all those candles you bought at your sister’s candle party. (Don’t get hubby started talking about how I own “too many” candles in my candle cupboard!)

If you don’t have a cabinet full of candles — or you don’t have any that are just the right size, Katy Teson aka “Pie Bird — Who Vents While Cooking” (Isn’t that a hoot of name?!) shows you how to make tea cup candles!

So go ahead, recycle those old mismatched china pieces and damaged china cups.

Disclaimers: I’ve never had any problems, but I will caution you that some candles may burn too hot to hold candles safely, meaning the china may crack. (And china that is already cracked probably won’t contain melted wax — though you can put a saucer beneath it all too). If you’re concerned at all, you can set clear glass votive holders inside the cups to hold the actual candles. Or you can, as many candle owners do, simply place the candles in or on the vintage china pieces just for show.