Many years ago I started collecting the first of many dinner services. I was barely out of school but I had fallen in love with a Wedgwood design “Kutani Crane” and thus it started – my collection with one plate designed with 2 cranes, some foliage and bamboo!  By the time I was married 10 years later, I was able to complete my wedding china with this design which was lucky because the crane is associated with longevity, good fortune and prosperity. Then like so many others I decided my 1970’s design was rather dated and not at all what I would have chosen if I was starting again. It sat barely used, hidden in the cupboard and brought out at Christmas and for other auspicious occasions with lots of apologies from me for choosing such a “busy” design. As the years progressed and I became more and more involved in Stoke-on-Trent, I came to realise the beauty of this dinner service. Like all English bone china it was strong and durable. It had no gold and I was able to place it in the dish washer. Lucky me! I started to realise it was a thing of beauty and its 1970’s slightly “dated feel” was rather beautiful. I started to use it again and even began adding to it.

I realised that when couples marry they still have a need for wedding china. Over the last few years,  I have been asked to design and create many English bone china dinner services for newly weds and couples setting up homes together. The only difference is that these couples want something they can use every day which reflects their life style.  They don’t want anything as busy or as ornate as a classic Wedgwood dinner service.  In fact quite a few of these dinner services have been based on my black and white drawings reflecting the simplicity and sophistication which is modern living. Many families don’t want formal dining but eat around a kitchen table. Cooking and more informal entertaining is definitely the preferred choice, so our china seems to be the answer for those wanting a more contemporary feel to the whole dining experience.

Of course the good thing about designing a dinner service for a specific couple, is that each one is completely unique and reflects not only their life style but also their interests. When I was asked to design a service for a successful chef and his new wife, I was able to put something together around his culinary interests and her love of flowers. The result was a mixture of simple pencil drawings using sage and peonies. The simplicity and softness of the graphite gave the service a modern clean feel and, like everything we design, the images are kept on the computer so they are easy to reproduce when the service needs increasing. When I asked my son if he would like a dinner service for his new flat, he chose something from my library – my bees! My friend who loves pigs commissioned china with different rare breed pigs around the edges. This time I used a series of water colours and again much of this work was from my extensive library. Of course this china is bright and colourful compared to the pencil drawings, but is just as durable and extremely eye catching. A few years ago I was commissioned by the organisers of the Royal Windsor Horse Show, to design the china for use in the Royal box to mark the Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebrations at Windsor Castle.  What a great commission and something we are  very proud to have made as these plates colourfully reflect The Queen’s love of her Country and Commonwealth. For my own every day china, I chose a vintage lime design which has had a long association with my husband’s family. Most days it goes happily into the dishwasher and still looks as good as when it was first produced many years ago.

Over the next few months as we build our webpage for dinner services, I feel very proud that we are using English bone china manufactured in Stoke-on-Trent. All my china is made in Longton, an area of Stoke famed for its bone china making. Now there is just one remaining manufacturer of English bone china flatware suitable for dinner services and we are using them.  My printmaker is able to reproduce with skill and accuracy my designs using his traditional silk screening methods before decorating each piece by hand.  Soon our website will be able to offer an extensive range of dinner services,  from the military mess to a wedding present, from the formal dinner to a kitchen supper. If you would like to know how we can help you with your choice of designs or china, please don’t hesitate to contact us, so you too can start collecting something that made Stoke-on-Trent world famous.