Some days I cannot fathom sitting at my desk. Fortunately there is always something to be done elsewhere in this enormous house. Last week I enlisted the help of our trusty new volunteer, Meredith, and got to work on dressing the butler’s pantry.
The butler’s pantry has long been a catch-all for the myriad supplies we need for gallery openings and other fancy affairs. The cabinets were a jumble of mismatched wine glasses, serveware of all shapes and sizes and crystal ashtrays left over from the days when guests were allowed to light up inside the house (what a thought!). We stripped the cabinets of their less-than-distinguished contents and got to work cleaning and re-lining the shelves with acid free paper. Actually, I did a lot of pointing while Meredith did most of the cleaning:
Once the shelves were clean, Meredith and I descended into the bowels of collections storage to begin the lengthy process of unpacking Mrs. Sloane’s vast collection of porcelain, earthenware, and crystal. Let me tell you: there is nothing more fun than unpacking mystery boxes of china. I am a total nut for all things table-related. Each new stack revealed a different pattern, and each new pattern suggested a different dinner party. Many of the pieces still had soot on them from the Music Room fire in 2003. Once smoke gets sucked into an HVAC system there’s no telling where you’ll find it seven years later.
I’m sure a curator with her head screwed on right would have arranged everything in some semblance of order. I am not that curator. When I see miles and piles of china I get weak at the knees and start cramming in as much as possible. I’m sure my fellow ceramaphiles will agree: the more the better! Besides, this is more of an “open storage” display than anything else.
I spent the rest of the day researching various patterns from Limoges, Spode, Lenox, Noritake and Pickard. Next time you stop by the house be sure to stick your head in the butler’s pantry for a look. I’ll be more than happy to come down and point at things for you. Just ask.