Recently, an article in the Neiman Marcus Blog, the NM Daily, entitled: Table of the Elements about mixing up your china appeared on my Facebook page. Apparently, using 72 pieces of the same matching china set is "out." I always thought the matching, preppy Papagallo Syndrome went out with the Reagan '80's. Retail reinventing itself once again to sell more stuff. Nothing new.
Single in the city for 20 years, I have been mixing up my 5 sets of incomplete china from 2 grandmothers and a great-grandmother for years because I had it, it was free, it was pretty and each time I used it, I thought of my relatives!
A friend of my Sister's has a grandmother famous for her eclectic Thanksgiving table as each of her 12 place settings are completely different china settings. Not even complimentary. Different kaolin from different continents, different designs and colors, different china companies. Each guest gets his or her own individual, special place setting of china, crystal stemware and sterling flatware. Brilliant!
John Loring of Tiffany & Company (the lucky man who writes all those coffee table books), says that Joanne Woodward once told him having eclectic china from grandmothers means you have a background. It gives you a history of family, which is interesting!
Yes, you may put your china in the dishwasher but you MUST use only 1 teaspoon of PLAIN detergent, gentle cycle and NO HEAT DRY. Lemon in detergents are excellent for pots and pans. However, the acidic lemon eats off the glaze on china, crystal and will eat off the gold rim as well. Heat also weakens and can crack your porous china. The water is hot enough, even on the gentle cycle. Always "Air Dry," and you'll save energy. Load and unload your china nicely. Do not crowd.
You may place your table settings on the exposed wooden table, but you will have little scratches called patina on the wood with normal use over time. For antique tables, this may be desirable, but for modern wood or Formica tables, this may not be good. Also, food particles and any moisture or water marks will leave stains on your table finish and may ruin the table. Instead, use a simple white or ecru tablecloth to protect the table and show off your pretty china.
Your Grannies' eclectic china, crystal and flat silver is always "in" and will be chic for years to come.
Take care of your family's history and enjoy!