Somewhere along the line, I fell in love with this style of pottery. My attempts at finding a definitive name for this style have always met with failure, but I can sum up my attraction by saying that I love brown, mid-century, daily-use, household pottery. Really there are two different styles that fall into this category for me – stripes in different shades of brown, and brown drip pottery, which has a more abstract, textured glaze. I have enormous collections of both, including mugs, saucers, small service pieces, jugs, and even a whole tea service packed up somewhere. I'm so drawn to it, I can't keep myself from snapping more up at thrift stores and yard sales. Some of the big name makers like Hull, McCoy, and Pfaltzgraff churned out tons of this stuff, but a lot of what I find is unmarked. That doesn't take away any of the appeal for me.
I think I have four sets of these double condiment pots, two of which still have the original spoons. These have something of a Hundred Acre Woods charm about them, and they're actually quite useful. They were originally made to serve jams, preserves, honey, etc. at the breakfast or tea table, but you could just as easily use them as large salt and pepper cellars, for ketchup and mustard, or, like I did here, to serve toppings for ice cream sundaes. I love the idea of filling an old soda crate with a bunch of waffle cones and sundae glasses, colorful napkins, and a jar of hot fudge. Set up on a picnic table with a couple of these little pots full of nuts, sprinkles, chocolate chips, broken up candies, and cherries? All you need is a big pitcher of iced lemon water, and it's the perfect summer sundae bar.
What I love most about vintage dishes is that they were meant for everyday use and made with high quality materials, so they're super durable and unassuming. They were made to get the job done in a simple, beautiful way. So you shouldn't be afraid to use them! All of my brown pottery pieces are so sturdy. I break my modern dishes accidentally all the time, but I've never so much as chipped a piece of this stuff. That's not to say it's unbreakable - it is pottery, after all, but these things are made to last. They're also really inexpensive at second hand stores and flea markets. You could put together a whole service for four people for less than $20 if you tried, I guarantee it. They also mix and match beautifully, because all the different companies used the same basic shades of brown, and they would be a great base for some bright blue salad plates or colorful vintage wine glasses.
Experiment with older pieces! There are no hard rules about how you can use them. You could even take the lids off these and put one big bloom in each pot, and you'd have a charming little centerpiece for your table. They're such a cost effective way to add a little interest to your home, and if you're anything like me, once you start, you won't be able to stop! If anyone knows the actual names of either of these pottery styles or has a particularly interesting piece, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!