Blue and White Part 2

My affliction for Blue Willow began about 50 years ago when I first discovered it as my grandmother’s “dishes”. I was totally fascinated at the intricate blue and white design. Many years later I learned that she purchased it at our local “5 and 10 cent” store.  That never diminished its value in my mind. I remember laying down the plates carefully when my lovely, sweet grandmother allowed me to help set the table in her warm and cozy kitchen. Oh! the sweet memories of  the delicious country food that she so lovingly placed on her Blue Willow…fat homemade biscuits, country ham, and vegetables from her garden…makes me starved just thinking about it!

Blue Willow is probably the most famous china pattern ever designed. It’s classic blue and white color scheme has kept it a favorite all over the world. Blue Willow is actually the oldest china pattern to still be produced today. Thomas Turner created the first Blue Willow pattern and worked under Josiah Spode. Spode was the first mass producer of the Blue Willow pattern dishes around 1790. Today, there are so many producers of this pattern worldwide and Blue Willow antiques fill thousands of antique shops and flea markets in scores of countries. So blue and white lovers… there is plenty of  Blue Willow out there to collect!

The legend of  the Blue Willow design unfolds on each piece of Blue Willow china; forbidden love, hope, a journey, a tragedy, and a blessing from the gods play out under the willow trees of this earthenware pattern. Part of the fascination of the willow pattern is the speculation and uncertainty over the actual story, but most agree that it is the tale of  two lovers, destined to be together, even through death. The story of Kong-Se and her Chang is simply and beautifully shared in a lovely picture book, The Willow Pattern Story,by Lucienne Fontannay.

Collecting and using her vast collection of Blue Willow is a priority to my great friend and Noland Interiors client, Holli Morris of Tampa, Florida and Waynesville, North Carolina.

blue and white china for an interior design project in Waynesville, NC

Don’t be afraid to use your collection and display it in the design of your home. I love mixing the blue willow pattern at Chestnut Cottage with my extensive collection of Flow Blue,

and allow yourself the joy of using this pattern everyday…perhaps for a yummy BLT Wedge Salad!

The English custom of “parlor games” appeals to those who frequent Chestnut Cottage nestled into an assortment of comfy chairs, sipping a great glass of  Bordeaux around the fire. My friend Holli gave me a great (and appropriate) parlor game, The Game of the Willow Pattern Plate”. It makes a great favor for a dinner party when dining on Blue Willow.

And I would certainly be remiss if I failed to mention that the term Blue Plate Special that started in southern diners, came from the wonderful divided willow plates, often termed grill plates. They are certainly a great way to “limit portions”!

The hunt for unusual pieces of blue willow continues for this collector. Some that I have recently acquired have interesting marks, which are always fun to research.

blue and white china

Children’s Blue Willow sets are extremely collectible and among the highest priced. As I said in my previous post  “Blue & White” ….it is never too early to start collecting!

And if blue and white doesn’t appeal to you, have a look at the great Pink Willow patterns, which can be found at our great friends at Replacements, Ltd.

I must leave you with a rather long but touching poem. Sit back, relax, sip some tea from a Blue Willow cup and enjoy!


The Willow Pattern Poem

B.L. Bowers

Whilst we sit around the table,

Please allow me to relate,

The entrancing ancient fable

Of “The Willow Pattern Plate”.


Every picture tells a story,

Like the Willow Pattern Plate,

Where two lovers dwelt in glory,

And defied paternal hate.


By elopement from the castle

You observe upon the ridge,

Where the violent old rascal

Chases them across the bridge.


Tries to catch the rogue and whip him,

‘Ere he steals the daughter fair;

But the loving pair outstrip him,

Let him languish in despair.


Thrown upon their own resources,

In a junk they emigrate,

To splendid little oasis,

Near the margin of the plate.


Dwell in peace, whilst unmolested,

In most perfect harmony;

Till at length they are arrested,

By Nibs’ gendarmerie.


Then the tyrant lord appeals to

Law and lucre, with their pow’r;

Caught, confined, they have their meals too,

In that horrid little tow’r.


When the pair are executed,

To appease their lord irate,

To a pair of doves transmuted,

Still they fly upon the plate.


Every Picture tells a story,

Like the Willow Pattern blue,

And true love will reign in glory,

To Infinity! Adieu

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4 Responses to Blue and White Part 2

  1. Janie Walsh says:

    Blue Willow is one of the popular pattern of China. I like these collection of teasets and potteries. Pink teaset is my favorite… looks fabulous…

  2. Hi Kathryn,

    LOVE reading your book!!! What a treasure….out of the hundreds of entertainment/ tablescaping books I’ve read, this is definitely one of the tops!

    Where online did you find the cute “Blue Willow” card game??

    Thanks for writing this wonderfully enchanting book….looking forward to the next!!


  3. Vicki says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed everthing about this book! Wonderful photography, beautiful interiors, delicious recipes and a great deal of inspiration. Thank you for sharing the story of these beautiful celebrations of life and the very special details that made them so spectacular. I would love to know how to find the Blue Willow parlor game, as my internet searches have not uncovered them.

  4. Kathryn says:

    Thanks Vicki! It was such a pleaure to do the book and I am so enjoying all of my book speaking and events.

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