By Carleton Varney- Special to the Palm Beach Daily News
It’s fiesta time -- or at least Fiesta dinnerware time.
Even in these days of the coronavirus pandemic, I have been doing a bit of travel, as carefully and responsibly as possible, of course. Last week, I spent some days decorating and planning in the wild, wonderful state of West Virginia, where the mountains are green and the fresh air a treasure to breathe.
On the trip, my associate Brinsley Matthews and I stopped by the famous Tamarack crafts center in Beckley to see all the products, from goat’s-milk soap to glass to ceramicware. Everything is designed and manufactured in this mountain state.
Upon entering Tamarack, visitors see front and center a Fiesta dinnerware display — a large one, indeed. The West Virginia manufacturer known as The Homer Laughlin China Co. produces lots of Fiesta dinnerware, just as it has done for many years. Branded as The Fiesta Tableware Co., this line endures.
You can find old Fiesta pieces in nearly every vintage and antique shop across the country. My grandmother had a breakfast service, and she liked to combine the colors — orange with turquoise, along with cream, butter-yellow with deep blue pieces, all mixed to perfection. For indeed my Boston Granny did everything to perfection, even carefully pressing the fold lines out of tablecloths.
A few years back, I presented my concepts for a new Fiesta pattern to the powers that were, hoping the company would manufacture white plates, cups and saucers decorated with a colorful domino dot design. (At the time, I believed the minimalists were about to ascend, and white would prevail on America’s tabletops.) My dots would be orange, turquoise, butter-yellow, cobalt blue, and leaf green, colors already in the company’s line.
Alas, my concept was not carried out, as the company’s design direction was for solid colors and lots of them.
Now, mixing all of today’s colors might be a bit iffy, but with a good eye and — maybe a super decorator — you can go about setting your table in the 2020 way. If you asked me, I’d mix pieces in cobalt with lemongrass for a fresh summertime look (perfect for a luncheon on the terrace) or perhaps meadow with poppy.
So I say: Hooray for Fiesta! The manufacturer and I certainly agree that color is the most important decorating tool.