“I’ve always wanted to have a pottery. My husband was slightly horrified at the idea at first. But we believe gaiety, brightness and good design are good business, as well as good things in themselves.” (Susan Williams-Ellis, co-founder of Portmeirion Pottery in 1960). The thing that has always attracted me to Portmeirion Pottery is that a set of plates in the Botanic Garden design can actually be plates, each with a different flower or plant, matching but not the same. I have never been someone who favours identical pottery; I like the random nature of Botanic Gardens, a bit like nature. Because of this unique trait of Portmeirion’s Botanic Garden, I have many pieces – large and small plates, planters, vases, casserole dishes, cups and saucers, teapot, milk jugs, soup bowls and much more.
Is it lazy to deliberately write one Blog about two tea towels? No, I don’t think so; they are both Portmeirion Botanic Garden tea towels, although bought eight years apart, for different reasons and with different patterns. What they share is that special design which I love, which underpins the background to the Blog. As tea towels, they share the iconic leaf pattern which runs down the tea towel on the left (as you look at it) and borders the one on the right, as it does on much of the crockery. The way that the flowers are used on the tea towels reflects the different designs on the pottery – depending on the size of the flower head; the smaller ones can be accommodated in straight lines but the larger headed flower needs the full space of the material. Portmeirion teatowels are always made of good quality cotton which makes them excellent for wiping up.
And the story behind the tea towels? The one on the left is a tea towel that I bought for my mother’s 61st birthday in 1985. Mum had wanted some new, different mugs; she liked Portmeirion so I decided to buy her four mugs with different flower patterns and, taking my own advice, bought a Portmeirion tea towel to wrap them up in (See Blog dated 4/1/16 Things To Do With a Tea Towel). Although not a collector of tea towels, my mother did like a nice quality tea towel; she was delighted with both the mugs and tea towel. 31 years on, all are going strong. I have inherited the tea towel which holds a strong place in my collection.
The second tea towel belonged to John. When he retired from the NHS in 1993, his colleagues clubbed together to buy him a retirement gift. They asked him what he would like. John was a big fan of Portmeirion Botanic Garden. He loved the ‘chunky’ and robust nature of the pottery itself; he loved the bright colours and patterns; he liked the fact that the pattern extended all over the pieces; he loved the unusual shapes. John asked for some Portmeirion Botanic Garden pottery, some larger pieces that he probably wouldn’t have bought for himself: casserole dish, coffee pot, a large vase, fruit bowl, serving spoons and stew pot. It was a beautiful collection but he also bought a tea towel, as a present for me, the tea towel on the right. John loved his retirement gift and made great use of it all. After 23 years, all the pieces are in tact, and the tea towels are in good shape. Great memories.
Click below to return to the Virtual Tea Towel Museum