Foraging for Fiesta


My love for the look of Fiestaware holds steady over the years, but the only piece I own is a white teapot that I picked up for a buck at our church rummage sale. White doesn’t bring out the best in Fiesta. Designed in 1936 by F. H. Rhead, the line featured Art Deco styling and bold, bright colors. Marking its 50th anniversary in 1986, Fiestaware was reissued in new, contemporary colors. Fiesta has a thick, smoothness compared to the Corelle at our house.
I can appreciate the way it feels at a local diner; they mix and match the colors with endless variety. We’ve almost entirely converted to using mugs for all our drinks at home while my cups and saucers collect dust. The Fiestaware at Main Street Diner has given me a renewed appreciation for the saucer – not only to collect my slops but, lo and behold, to rest my spoon. I’m ready to phase the saucer back into my life.
My brother, Tom, often suppers from Fiesta pasta bowls. He likes the wide rim – hot food in bowl; roll sits on rim. “Handy,” he says.
For months we’ve talked about shopping at the Homer Laughlin China Outlet in Newell, West Virginia. The shopping trip was put on our “places to go” standing private jokes list. We make fun because we always say we’ll go there “when we have time” or “the next time we’re both off work”, but those times rarely come.
On the last day of January, we finally made our visit, discovering their outlet store for what they claim is the “most collected of all collectable dinnerware”. We browsed the entry room which displays the latest colors in pieces of nearly every shape and size. Dove gray, a discontinued color, was featured at half-off prices. After exploring there, we entered the second room which is just that – the world of seconds, the slightly flawed (sometimes not so slightly) rejects that can’t be sold for full price.
Slow to get into the act, we saw other shoppers with plastic crates diligently picking through pottery pieces while Tom and I walked casually past the large wooden bins of stacked china. He wanted another pasta bowl in a different color. I helped him gingerly move stacks of piled pottery, sorting for the right colors with the least imperfections.
As I watched the tall pillars while we rearranged the pieces, it reminded me of the only other place I had viewed such a sight, the swaying stacks I’d seen in cartoons that clatter and crash and somehow are effortlessly cleaned up within a frame or two. I realized that would not be the case here as I envisioned one of our stacks toppling over onto the concrete floor.
We got a sampling of what it would sound like when a small plastic crate filled with smaller pieces slid from its balance on another crate. The tinkling rattle of smashing china made everyone’s head turn, and a girl who appeared with a bag and a broom quipped, “These were probably the nicest pieces in the room,” provoking a few chuckles.
Always defenseless to the power of a sale, I bought four different colored dinner plates which were the special of the day at two dollars each. Our crate’s contents looked relatively small beside those of other shoppers lined up at the check-out. The lady in front of us, whose husband helped her manage three heavy-looking crates full of pottery, graciously told us, “If that’s all you have, go ahead.” We thanked her and did just that.
Late that evening, I carried my box of cold Fiesta purchases from my van into our kitchen. As my daughter unloaded and unwrapped
the box, she criticized, “Mom, we don’t need any more dishes,” but as she stacked the bright colors together, she smiled the smile of a budding collector.


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