If I think back, my first convention was around 1999 in Richmond Virginia. I would have to verify with someone that that was the corresponding year, but none the less, the first convention I went to, was breathtaking for me. I am from a small rural West Virginia town population of around 1,500 people. The city center was the college, where Ben and I had attended school. To be fair, the population without the college is probably way less.
The only fast food we had at the time was Dairy Queen, no hotels, two small gas stations and a dollar general store and a hardware store at the end of town. We now have 2 dollar stores (we are moving up in the world!) It is a quaint little town, but until recently, when a church took initiative to redecorate down town, it had become a dreary town, struggling with addiction, poverty and much of the town had burned at one point or another.
I have to give you background, because Richmond Virginia is a huge place, so not only was the trip there stressful, but navigating downtown was insane for us little town kids. We were fresh out of college and as I said in one of my other blogs, we literally attended with enough money to be able to eat and just attend. We were maybe 23 and 24 when we attended and our household income was maybe $16k combined! Yes, I am not missing a zero. We maybe made $5.75 and hour.
Ok, we were poor, you get the picture. I had purchased my first Mary Gaston willow book and it had truly become my willow bible. I was so enthused with the pictures inside of it. These were pieces I never ever thought I would see. We had a couple of antique stores around town, but most of the time, you could walk through and never see one piece of willow.
The bulk of what we had added to the collection came from my husbands birth city of Erie, PA. It was way more of an antique area than my sleepy little town. By the way, Helen’s Fads & Fashions was the only antique store that was in my hometown at the time and my mom owned it….so she kept her eye out for any willow she could find.
Anyhow, back to the topic at hand…collecting willow pattern in colors other than the traditional blue and white! I recall walking into the Marriott in downtown Virginia, simply in awe of how big the buildings were. I seriously had never seen anything like it. But man, when I walked down the hallway of the convention center and saw the International Willow Collectors check in table, the hallways were huge. The light fixtures were massive….
I simply was in shock of the size of everything and to be fair, was not sure what to expect when we entered just in time for show and tell. I believe the topic that year was bed and bath. As we walked into a ball room set up to seat 150 people, and tables all the way around the room for show and tell, I was immediately drawn to the front of the room, where the pitcher and bowl pictured at the top of this page adorned a sow and tell table by the hosts. Tim & Kim Allen and Tom & Barbara Allen.
The colors on the pieces simply amazed me and the raised pattern was simply gorgeous. But remember I told you, we had just enough money to eat, so scoring one of those sets was not going to happen. I was too excited to see the pieces to be disappointed that I was broke! I was living in the moment!!!!
Later on in my collecting I would purchase the book above as it had such amazing different colored willow and I wanted it all. The book was developed largely off of the Allen’s collections. I recall the front of the room having a pitcher and bowl set as well as a tooth brush holder, and various other pieces displayed in the Tams ware pattern above.
I honestly never thought I would get to a point that I would have pieces of that magnitude, but the thrill of the hunt kept me interested. I purchased the set in the first picture probably 10 years ago and was so excited to open it up. It was a quick buy it now on Ebay that I simply couldn’t live without. I have added various pieces to it as I have come across them. The pattern itself is just amazing.
This has to be one of the most colorful versions of the traditional willow pattern. I simply love it. It helps that it has by favorite shades of green in it and it offsets the blue so well.
I was able to get quite the deal on this set when I purchased the bulk of the pieces at $200. It was one of those finds, I never thought would happen and also one of those shipments I patiently awaited the delivery only to easily shake the box before opening…don’t shake your head, you know what I am talking about!
Tell me about your multicolored willow items you cherish……when did you get your first non “traditional” willow piece and do you still have it?
Have a great Sunday!