Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The ramblings of an Op-shop addict

Well here it is folks, at last me on the computor blogging. Anyone who knows me knows just how much I have fought technology and have resisted all badgering and bullying from family and friends to get with the 21st century. However, in the last few weeks I have found Face book and now consider myself an expert in networking sites. (oh my God i can hear my family cry who's she kidding?) ok they have got a point, but, I do have so much great stuff to say so sit back and watch this blog. Having an oportunity to ramble on about anything that takes my fancy is my idea of heaven and has led me to start my own blog. Actually it's not just the ramblings of a sad old bird, (well not all the time) I decided to share with you my passion for beautiful table settings. Not just any table settings, but, those born from the addictive purchases of a woman who spends far too much time wandering through the charity thrift shops or oportunity (op) shops (depending on which part of the world you inhabit.)

I love to entertain my friends and family and take great delight in setting the table in a way which always complements the meal. There is nothing like seeing the faces of your guests light up when they spot the table laid out in all its glory, fully colour co-ordinated with flowers and candles and napkins and napkin rings and anything which brings the table to life. The visual feast which the well laid table brings to bear is simply the start of what delight the rest of the occasion has to offer.

My addiction to Op-shops started many years ago when as a young hair designer I became the main art director for a photographer who reguarly put together a shoot for a magazine. I was required to provide both hair and makeup styling. I spent hours trawling through the op shops for accesories and jewellery. I learnt that they were a source of many treasures.

After embarking on an interior designer course many years later I realised my interest lay in table ware. I was captivated by some of the fabulous creations put together by interior designers in magazines. Where as they are without a doubt stunning, they can be extremely expensive and someone like me who likes to vary or put together a different setting each time, had to find an alternative way of achieving my goal. Once again I headed back to the good old Op-Shops. My aim was to put together a dinner service made entirely of old English China from the early part of the 20th century. I didnt want it to match, I loved the idea of it being completely mismatched and looking as if it had always been hanging around in the cupboard for years. When I spoke to an Antique dealer friend of mine and told him I was on a mission to find enough mismatched china to put together a dinner service for 6 people he politely told me that it was known in the trade as "eclectic" or "Harlequin". I like that, a positive spin always get my vote. Anyway after spending weeks of hunting down all the op-shops in my locality I finally had enough china to put together a dinner for 12 not 6. I couldnt stop hunting. I had become hooked. My service consisted of Dinner plates, lunch or starter plates, side plates, soup and desert bowls. Large serving platters, gravy boats, and vegetable dishes. I wasnt going to get any cups and saucers because I already had loads for my exsisting dinner service and didnt want to find the space for them. However the bug had bitten and I had seen so many lovely old china cups and saucers that I ended up collecting them too, and let's be honest with the revival of afternoon tea in old china cups and saucers it would be stupid not to, dont you think? As I say my service now consisted of enough china to entertain 12 people to a sit down meal in an eclectic style. There was however some rules which I gave myself while hunting, all the china had to be English. It had to be either cream or off white base and had to have an amount of gold guilding on it. I didnt mind if it was wearing off, infact I quite liked that it added to the look of age. Absolutely, definately no chips or cracks and it had to be cheap. I turned down many plates because I felt they were to expensive. The purpose of the exercise was to keep the cost down while enjoying the hunt.

I already had some old Victoria lace place mats and one or two old white linen napkins, the new dinner service just cried out for some more to make the table complete, so the hunt started again. Soon I had enough of those to complete my fabulous old table. It was, and still is like something from a past era. I absolutely love it! I mean can you imagine all my girlie urges for shopping fulfilled, a fancy table for my guests to swoon at, (and they do) and all for a very small amount of money. I added some old china candlesticks and a couple of candles, an eclectic collection of silver napkin rings with a beautiful arrangement of flowers to complete the ensemble. It almost seemed a shame to put food on the table it looked so good, and lets be honest if you have a bunch of children round with the grown ups for lunch, you can still get the china out, because if something gets broken then you can just go right on out and replace it.

All my friends thought I was mad, (I had become a woman obsessed) but, I was surprised how many of them started to come hunting with me. Many of them now share my passion for Op-shops and phone regularly to share with me what their latest purchases are.

Be warned readers it is addictive if you really get the bug! And I'm afraid I have! With my table complete, I have been left in a state of loss. I mean can you imagine girls? The shopping has come to an end! I KNOW YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!! The withdrawral is overwhelming. So I have decided to set myself a task. I am going put together the most amazing dinner tables, with linens, crockery, glass wear and allsorts of other paraphernalia from op-shops or discount or low end establishments. I hesitate to use the words "cheap" as it has very negative conatations, but lets be honest that is the order of the day. With the recession biting hard, anything which looks a million dollars but has cost very little has to be good, RIGHT?

So there it is! my challenge to myself, see how many different tables settings I can come up with, without spending very much money, (and I mean without spending very much money!) Follow my journey as I explain what purchases I have made to be able to compose my latest "symphony on a table". GOD, thats sounds sooo Naff, but, hey it does say up top,"The ramblings of an Op-Shop addict" so what do you expect, huh?


  1. I am trying to put a picture of the table seting on here and it is driving me mad. why am I so useless with computors?

  2. Well done sis, looking good, just make sure you keep it updated just like mine....lol xx

  3. I am feeling all grown up. I have just managed to work out a little bit more on here and am sitting here with a big head and I.m all puffed up with pride (and not coz i've just been to oesteopath). Look at my next page it can just get better. The table setting isnt complete, it was just taken for my own references but decided to try and down load it on here. hurrar it worked. there is no stopping me now.

  4. Loving the photo its the gravy boats that do it for me !!!

  5. thank anonymous, I went to great lengths to get them. I even ventured over the other side of the bridge. A place where no sane person goes alone. (which is why I went with another complete lunatic, safety in numbers)