Vintage Christmas with a blue china Broadhurst Ironstone jug

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With Christmas on our doorstep, we all start thinking about our table décor, how to make our table sparkle, whether it’s a formal or relaxed dinner. For my parents the only way to set a table was with matching sets of dishes or china. Nowadays dreaming of vintage table settings at your rustic, nostalgic or just cosy parties, wedding reception, baby shower… setting the table with your vintage collections, is considered as “the” creative outlet! And who can resist designing a culinary stage including this blue china Broadhurst Ironstone lovely creamer or jug, with its blue pattern on white background, decorated with flowers and “The English scene”.

Little did my parents know that today, setting an entire table with the same pieces, is considered boring… the mismatched table setting, with its very own style and colour scheme, has been born.

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Just knowing you’re going to serve food on a collection of plates you love, mixing elegant, vintage china and glassware in a similar hue, is half the fun of the party already. Starting an eclectic vintage dinnerware collection, to help creating that shabby chic décor , to tantalize your guests imagination, is a dream.

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Combing second hand stores, flea markets, thrift stores, looking for those special lone tableware items, has become a hobby for many.

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And of course no shabby chic design is complete without that elegant and vintage touch of stunning dishware on a ruffled and wrinkled tablecloth. I always had a soft heart for the vintage floral pattern and love combining several florals.

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Of course while most modern glass is dishwasher safe, fine crystal and vintage or antique goblets should be hand washed. Yes, it’ll give you a bit more work but probably a nice conversation whilst washing up.

I thought about all this, when finding my heirloom jug, a popular collectible for lovers of true blue&white vintage, manufactured by Broadhurst Ironstone in Staffordshire, England. And it comes with some history!

James Broadhurst & Sons, was a major Staffordshire producer of tablewares for the mass market in the postwar period. Broadhurst Pottery is still being made. The original Broadhurst potter was in Longton c. 1847. Broadhurst Ironstone Staffordshire was an offshoot operated by a relative, that it is now owned by Churchill China PLC (in 1984 James Broadhurst & Sons Ltd became Churchill Tableware Ltd) and continues to make tableware, but James Broadhurst & Sons (which made fine china) went out of business.

Kathie Winkle (1932-) began her long and prolific career in ceramic design at Shorter and Son, Stoke-on-Trent, where she trained as a ‘painter’. Around 1950, she joined James Broadhurst & Sons Ltd, where she worked up to her retirement in 1992.  Broadhurst prospered on the basis of Kathie Winkle’s popular designs, she quickly became the company’s head designer. Her first patterns appeared around 1958, she ultimately became responsible for all of Broadhurst’s patterns.

Kathie Winkle was the prolific in-house designer of at least 122 designs for Broadhurst in the period 1958 to 1976. Winkle’s innovative geometric patterns were printed in black by semi-automatic rubber-stamping machines, and then hand coloured before glazing (‘stamp and fill’ process). Her designs once machine stamped in black, then got splashes of no more than three colors, added by hand. An outline in black was created by the stamping, processed with bright colours, then hand painted in the spaces before the wares were glazed.

For a short period there were even some boxed sets of ‘Kathie Winkle’ designs on pottery, complete with matching table linen.

As machine-decorating techniques began to take over from hand painting in the mid 1970s, Kathie Winkle stopped designing, her patterns slowly being phased out, although older designs continued in production.

Her name appears on the backstamp from 1964 and became the registered trademark for Broadhursts’ wares. It was also used from then, on any pre-Winkle designs which were re-issued. This backstamp was used until around 1978 when she changed role within the company.

During the 1950s and 1960s it was particularly fashionable to create a co-ordinated interior design. Ceramics, textiles and wallpaper often matched.

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With a special vintage touch our Christmas table-setting will always be gorgeous, up to snuff and memorable, maybe even with a touch of shimmer.

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Check out my Woo Hoo Cuties’ shop for more ideas!

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PS The beautiful quilt base of the main picture was made by my friend Veronique from Decla.be, as a wedding present!

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