Growing up, my family ate our meals off that brown drip-pattern everyday china that was so ubiquitous in the early 80s. I remember thinking it was kind of ugly at the time (although I think it’s quite pretty now).
But there were always two dinner plates that didn’t belong. One was a pale turquoise. The other was a deep cobalt blue.
“Why do we have these when they don’t match our other plates?” a five-year-old me asked. “They’re Fiestaware,” my mom explained. “They come in all different colors and they’re very expensive.” I imagined these were the plates of royalty and millionaires.
And we had two pieces of it. Wow.
I still don’t know how those two errant pieces of china managed to find their way into our kitchen cabinet. All I knew from that point onward was that Fiestaware was special. I dreamed of the day when I, like the upper crust of society, would own a set of these rainbow-glazed treasures.
When I walk into my kitchen, I’m greeted by a sight that always cheers me.
That’s right, I’m happy to report that over the course of seven years I’ve amassed a decent collection of the stuff, and it keeps growing.
There’s a lot to love about collecting Fiestaware. It originated in 1936, and is still made today at the Homer Laughlin China Company in West Virginia. You can learn more about its history here and here. The factory workers at Homer Laughlin are treated well, and many have been employed there for decades. The dishes are as sturdy as they are beautiful, and are all oven-safe.
And just look at those fabulous art deco lines.
Some of the pieces in my collection were purchased on sale at various retail stores. At full retail, a four-piece place setting will set you back about $50. That’s why I always keep my eyes peeled when I’m in thrift or antique stores. And when I’m lucky, I detect that distinctive circular pattern that makes my heart skip a beat.
For instance, last week I scored this 14-piece set of cobalt and evergreen (now discontinued) for $18.
Because I’m weird and do things like this, I went online, looked up the retail price of each piece and calculated the total. It came to around $200.
Even if your means are modest, you too can collect Fiestaware. Yes, it’ll take time, patience and a lot of thrifting. But as I learned all those years ago, it only takes two plates to start a collection.