March 8, 2010

Linen: An Interlude

 Tea Time, by Robert Emil Stubner
The year is 2010, but sometimes, just sometimes, I wish it were1910.

We're getting a new dining table. A very sleek modern number that expands to seat 6. It's all glass, metal legs, and a natural oak inset that's very Ikea if Ikea were just slightly pricier. It's very cool if I do say so myself. That being said, sometimes glass, metal and cool isn't what's called for. Sometimes, I want to take out my German Art Deco tea set and serve pavlovas and finger sandwiches. Sometimes, I want a little opulence - brilliant flowers overflowing from my good crystal vase. Sometimes I want a crisp white linen tablecloth beneath my vintage plates that I've lovingly collected over the years.

Sure, we have a bright orange couch and huge 46" flat screen across the room, but maybe just for one afternoon, I can pretend. Remember pretend? Remember when all you needed were plastic yellow tea cups with daisies on them, a fake tiara, and your favorite teddy bear? It was tea time and I was a Duchess taking tea with with the Queen. I miss those tea parties. And so, I decided that what I needed was a linen tablecloth. Something crisp, white, classic and lovely...

My search has been depressing though. I can tell you that I actually found a linen tablecloth that was over a thousand dollars, and no it wasn't made from Mermaid hair. I have found every manner of polyester table covering you could ever want, plastic is also really popular, and almost any tablecloth made of a natural fiber is some god-awful heavy brocade nonsense that wreaks of dinner parties at a wealthy Texan's -  that is if it comes in white or ivory. You'll find that various shades of  reds and golds are all the craze these days - oh, that and roosters. Christmas themes are immensely popular as well as sunflowers which I think is supposed to be some semblance of French Provincial?

I did eventually find some simple white tablecloths. But now I find that purchasing a tablecloth online defeats the purpose. If the point of my little foray into "pretend" is perhaps capturing something of a bygone era, than I'm approaching it all wrong aren't I? I need to feel the linen between my fingers. I need to assess the weight, see the imperfections. I need to scour the flea markets and antique stores. I need to physically find my little piece of the past. After all, what good is wishing for 1910 while shopping in 2010?

When I find my perfect linens I'll make sure to post the table resplendent with tea set, flowers, and pavlovas. And then dear readers, pretend is once again open for business.


  1. I love it! :-) Linens are a treasure to me - REAL ones, that is - and they're oh so hard to find. I have discovered a few in thrift stores, at garage sales, but sigh, it's few and far between. I wish you bon chance in your searching! :-)

  2. Best place to find the kind of linens you are looking for is a flea market or a high end thrift store (ideally in the country, but never mind...) The old ones are by far the best, and people don't know generally what to do with them. You can get great napkins etc too -- especially if you don't care if they match!