OK ... I admit it ... I'm a sucker for vintage glass. Kitchenware, glassware, pitchers, candle holders, bon bon dishes, bowls, decanters, centerpieces. You name it -- I like it all. Our Mothers and Grandmothers had their favorite pieces and patterns, from makers such as Fostoria, Cambridge, Anchor Hocking and Libbey. And don't forget the 'special occasion' glassware, typically from Waterford, Baccarat or Steuben. Not to be overlooked is gorgeous lead crystal from Scandinavian makers Kosta Boda and Orrefors.
Sadly, as the years rolled by, old sets of glassware were usually relegated to boxes in the basement or attic, where they sat, unused and unappreciated. If no one in the family wanted them, they were often donated to thrift shops or simply thrown away.
However, glass (especially clear glass) is experiencing a renaissance. A new generation is realizing that the old adage, 'they don't make things like this anymore' certainly applies to fine glassware. Setting a beautiful table for a party or family gathering is now back in style, and lovely glass is taking center stage once again.
And let's not leave out the man cave or bar area. Beautifully etched and cut decanters, rocks glasses and tumblers are flying off the shelves. Want a more Mad Men look? Go for Imperial Hollywood Regency glassware, which comes in a variety of gold geometric designs.
And beautiful glass isn't just meant for drinking. Decorating with more utilitarian types of glass is also popular. Apothecary jars, glass cylinders, spice jars, baking dishes and glass cookware offer a myriad of decor possibilities. Fill a jar with lemons, pine cones, Christmas ornaments or anything your heart desires to add a pop of color to a monochromatic color palette. Grandma's old glass mixing bowls evoke childhood memories of favorite cakes and licking the spoon.
And whether decorating or setting a table, don't think that everything has to match. If you're going for a shabby chic look, mismatched stemware and serving pieces on a rustic farm or harvest table is a perfect look. Add a variety of beautiful dishware and different napkins, and your guests will be fighting over which place setting at which to sit!
No matter how you acquire your beautiful glass, here are a few tips to keep it in tip-top shape.
- Never ... repeat after me ...NEVER wash your fine stemware in the dishwasher. They will end up clean, but they will eventually be etched by the abrasives found in most dishwasher detergents. Etching equals cloudiness -- not good!
- So, to keep that Cambridge Rose Point (or other favorite pattern) shining and crystal clear, hand wash in hot water with your favorite liquid detergent (I use Dawn).
- Put each piece into the sink individually (as you wash it). Don't stack glasses in the sink for them to clink together -- that is the easiest way to acquire fleabites and rim chips.
- Store your glassware upside down on a shelf or hanging from their bases on a rack to keep dust from building up on the inside.
And most important of all -- don't just look at your beautiful glassware. USE IT!!!
By Mary Farley