Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tea-Towels I Have Loved (Part 1)

A tea-towel is the most utilitarian of textiles. Drab tea-towels are the faceless public servants of the kitchen, drying the washing-up and swabbing the counter tops with a mind numbing lack of grace or charm. But ah, there are vintage tea-towels at large in the world, small brightly printed rectangles of joie de vivre.

A series of these delights will be blogged here, but for the position of honour at head of the parade I gladly hand over to my wonderful sister Du, who combines a sweet appreciation of any day's little felicities with a way with words which leaves me awestruck. Her topic is a jauntily sophisticated vintage tea-towel gleaned from a nicely laundered and neatly folded stack of its lesser fellows at a garage sale in Blackheath (NSW Blue Mountains) last year:

"This one is of such generous proportions that it might even be some sort of supper cloth: something you’d whisk out of the drawer and onto the traymobile as you hear the crunch of approaching drinkers on the gravel outside the sitting room window. The sun is dropping. Time to tinkle the swizzle sticks, Delores.

With a strict palette of red, green and black and the minimum of confidently rendered detail, the artist has somehow evoked a whole party in two dimensions.

The jolliness of the simple red and green border device just adds a little something, without intruding on the main graphic content.

There are no repeats in this cocktail cavalcade.

You dream them up, drink them and instantly forget how you made them. Some are sweetly fizzy, others still and deadly with a pearly onion punch at the final draught. Sup up kid and let’s have another."


  1. Those poor faceless public servant tea towels. I must make sure I keep some empathy ready for our next encounter.

  2. Jones, you are far kinder than I - some fabrics are beyond the reach of empathy (or more likely my empathy is not sufficiently far reaching). I'd be tempted to relegate them to the ranks of dusters and floor cloths, and replace them in the kitchen with vintage tea-towels ;)


I love it when real people have real things to say :)