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Page 2          The Antique Shoppe             March, 2018
        Midwinter                                                                                             Stylecraft launch. She did not design the shapes (that
        Continued from Page 1                                                                                 was the work of co-director William Lunt) but was
                                                                                                              responsible for some of the most successful patterns.
           “They  are  better  manners,  more  truly                                                          Primavera, for example, has painted abstract plants
        gracious,  because  they  are  sincere.”  This  rosy                                                  and flowers. It only looks improvised; Tait put a lot
        view of human nature was further expressed in                                                         of effort into balancing motifs and getting the colors
        pronouncements against “the code of snobbish                                                          just right.  The plaid Homeweave was made in many
        manners” and “the dictatorship of etiquette that                                                      colors. The minor variations in the painted decoration
        stifles individuality.”  Condemned, too, was “the                                                     are compatible with the artisan theme. Other launch
        entire  fiction  of  ‘gracious  living’”  that  was  (it                                              patterns, like Pussy Willow, were based on lithographs
        went without saying) “a cruel charade.”                                                               that Midwinter bought from a local firm. It was up to
           The  Wrights’  program  for  non-hierarchical                                                      Tait to arrange the lithographs and choose the hand
        socializing  emphasized  “co-operative  meals”                                                        detailing—the  borders, gilding, or banding—that
                                                                                                              framed the decoration.
        (buffets  and  potlucks)  and  “co-operative                                                            Tait was not the only Stylecraft designer. One
        cleanups,” with guests chipping in.  The place                                                        of  Midwinter’s  bestselling  patterns,  Riviera,  was
        settings were to be limited to the bare minimum.                                                      based on the drawings of Hugh Casson, a prominent
           Plates for bread, butter, and salad were superfluous,                                              architect  and artist.  Riviera  was launched  in 1954,
        and using mugs obviated the need for saucers. Even                                                    ten  years  after Allied  forces  liberated  France  from
        better:  Stick  to  paper  plates  and  napkins  (“solid   ↑Don’t forget the sauceboat! In postwar England, even informal   German occupation. There is no hint of that terrible
        color” ones, they specified).  While these ideas were   table settings deployed a range of serving dishes and neatly   time in the idyllic scenes of cafés and beaches that
        taking  root  in  open  plan  houses  across  the  country,   arranged cutlery. (Advertisement for Capri by Jessie Tait for   were  enameled  and  transfer-printed  on  the  modern-
        Californians, in particular, were praised by the Wrights   Midwinter. Photo: Bulthaup, London,  but-not-too-modern Stylecraft dishes.
        for their “willingness to disregard tradition  and try                                                 Stylecraft is sometimes used generically to describe
        anything new.”                                                                                       all  Midwinter  production  from the  1950s.  In  fact,
           Roy  Midwinter’s  impressions  of  the  west  coast  are  unknown.  Certainly,  he  saw   the company launched a second, even more influential line in 1955. The Fashion line
        potential in the dishes. He shipped home a study collection. Six months later, in 1953,   resembles  more  closely  the  wares  Roy  Midwinter  shipped  home  from  California.
        Midwinter Pottery came out with the Stylecraft line. It was an immediate success and   Swooping curves were in and sturdy angularity was out.
        soon accounted for 60% of the company’s sales. Wartime restrictions were lifted, so   Gone was the plate rim—a loss for the husband accustomed to putting a daub of
        British shoppers were free, for the first time in many years, to buy more than utility   mustard there. Other modifications included replacing the stumpy spout with a straight
        wares.                                                                    attenuated one and replacing the bracket handle with a high looping one. Solid colored
           While Stylecraft was inspired by American design, certain changes were necessary.   pieces were paired with patterned ones.
        The Stylecraft shapes tended to be boxier than the American models. It was the English   Some  Fashion  patterns  were  reworked  Stylecraft  favorites.  Riviera,  for  example,
        custom to put the condiments on the rim, so Midwinter retained this feature on the plate.   was spruced up and renamed Cannes. While Stylecraft Riviera has a soft honey glaze,
        There were surface differences, too. Pattern, not solid color, was the decoration. Fiesta,   Fashion Cannes has a stark white ground. And the Cannes cups have a turquoise exterior;
        Hawaii, and Tropicana—the pattern names are redolent of the sunny, vagabond life—  the Riviera cups are decorated with a striped umbrella and flower boxes.
        were applied to dinnerware and tea services.                                But the very best patterns were specially conceived for the Fashion line. Zambesi,
           The chief designer was Jessie Tait, who was in her mid-twenties at the time of the   which Tait designed in 1956, is probably the most sought-after Midwinter pattern: A
                                                                                  black-and-white tribal motif, with the handles and hollowware interiors in red.  Another
                                                                                  Tait  classic  is  Cuban  Fantasy,  which  reflects  Cuba’s  reputation  as  a  raffish  resort
                Vintage Finder’s                   NORTH PORT                     island.
                                                                                    Patio is a jokey takeoff on the American taste for al fresco entertaining. The patio
                Warehouse “llc”                                                   was a staple  of American  decorating magazines,  which ran frequent features on its
                 Dean & Diane Castellano                             VFW         furnishing and use. The concept never really took off in overcast England. What does the
                                                    75                           English patio look like? According to Tait, it is a mosaic of grey, black, and white, with
               1075 Innovation  Avenue                                            a scattering of drab green and sunshine yellow.
                      Unit 106                                                      It  was  at  this  time  that  Terence  Conran  began  designing  for  Midwinter.  Conran
                 North Port, FL 34289                                   75       designed Nature Study, which was one of six patterns developed for the Fashion launch.
                   941-228-8112                                                   Nature Study consists of printed black sketches of plants and insects on white ground.
                   941-228-7804                                                   The accompanying hollowware is black with a semi-matte glaze. In the same spirit is
                      Priced to Sell                                              Conran’s Plant Life, which appeared in 1956. The most common version of this pattern
                    & Dealer Friendly                                             has sketchy green plants in terracotta pots.
                                                                                    Stylecraft,  which  only  a  few  years  earlier  had  been  the  last  word in  English
                                                                                  contemporary design, now seemed old fashioned. “Established successes which continue
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                                   Dixie Belle Paint                              in great demand” read one optimistic Stylecraft advertisement that ran after the Fashion
                                         launch. Some Stylecraft patterns lingered on in production into the 1960s.
                                                                                                                                     Continued on Page 18

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