You may not be surprised to know that having owned Casa Fina for over 35 years my home is full of wonderful things that I have collected over the years. Tastes and fashions change and so have the things that I have around me. Every so often I’ll try to look at my home as if I was walking in for the first time. This is such a good way to highlight areas that I have been ignoring – little accumulations of clutter, a lampshade that’s past its best, a plant that has died while my back has been turned or a dark corner that deserves not to be ignored. It is very therapeutic to take a box of unwanted things to the charity shop, creating some space and even the need to go shopping!
I’m not a collector per se. I don’t actively seek things to add to my possessions but when I stand back and look around me I realise that I have a lot of certain objects – books, framed photos, Emma Bridgewater (you may have seen my instagram posts!), antique china cups and vintage glass. I’m going to talk about the last three.
I began collecting Emma Bridgewater over 30 years ago when we started to stock Emma’s pottery in Casa Fina. When we first bought from her she had the tiniest stand at the trade fairs and a very limited range. I use my Bridgewater everyday and so there have been many sad moments when favourite things have been broken. I’ve often been told that I should put some of the old designs on Ebay as they could be worth lots of money but the most unusual are often the most precious, the first cup or bowl I reach for and so the collection grows. I love to use it and I get over it (eventually) when I break something.
My cup collection started with a few pretty German cups that were self-chosen presents. When we started introducing antique and vintage items into the shop I had the opportunity to add to this collection and developed an interest in shape, style and beauty. Some of the cups don’t have saucers and we call those ‘rescue cups’ as there is a feeling of rescuing something that no one else would appreciate and saving it from the rubbish heap. The skill of the decorators in creating posies of hand painted flowers is phenomenal. Pretty much a lost art now sadly but we should be proud of our history of ceramics even though sadly it was a tough life for those involved and even deadly in many cases. Read Arnold Bennett to discover more – Anna of the Five Towns is a favourite of mine.
My biggest love is my glass collection and again I feel that I am in some way rescuing pieces that haven’t been treasured as they should have been. These pieces range from glasses to vases and jugs but they are all etched and they all have either initials on or full names and dates too. I have a pair of tumblers that were obviously given as a wedding gift with the names Gertie and E Sowter 1982, amongst others are John 1924 – a christening gift perhaps, Walter Mold 1889 and Florentine. These would have been treasured and somehow they ended up at a car boot or antique fair but now they belong to each other and it’s lovely to use them on the table as each person has something unique.
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