Her Kentucky Entertaining: Blue and White Dishes

Blue Italian, via Spode
There's just something about blue and white dishes.  Everybody's grandmother has at least a couple of pieces of blue transferware.  My own grandmother is a devotee of the Blue Willow pattern -- the classic tale of star-crossed Mandarin lovers first set to porcelain by  18th century English potters. It's just such a classic, clean pairing -- one that can easily transition from season to season with only a few tweaks of linen and flowers.   Still, Blue Willow and its various transferware cousins can seem a little stodgy at times.  They kind of scream "tea with Granny", which isn't always the tone you want to convey.  
In my old 'hood.

I adore Kentucky's very own answer to blue-and-white pottery: the quirky, hand-painted pieces produced by Louisville Stoneware and Hadley Pottery.

Bachelor Button, via Louisville Stoneware.
The Louisville Stoneware story goes back to 1815, when the company was founded as the JB Taylor Company.  Over the years, the company has changed owners and names many times, but has built a reputation for producing beautiful pottery from rich, ancient clay imported from Western Indiana.  In recent decades, Louisville Stoneware has become a go-to for Kentucky-themed items like Hot Brown plates and Burgoo mugs as well as customized corporate gifts (most Kentuckians have at least one promotional mug or personalized gift bearing the Stoneware insignia; for years, they were pretty much the standard gift for law clerks, bank customers and conference-goers.)  My own Stoneware collection -- amassed when I lived within walking distance of the Highlands-based studio -- includes the stylized likeness of Colonel Sanders as well as a reproduction of Rupp Arena.  But, you can't talk about Louisville Stoneware without a mention of Bachelor Button, the quintessential Stoneware pattern which dates back to 1971.  While Louisville Stoneware has expanded their tableware to include a variety of patterns, the blue-and-white blooms are a perennial favorite for Kentucky wedding registries.

Bouquet, via Hadley Pottery.
A stone's throw away from the Stoneware factory is M.A. Hadley Pottery.  Mary Alice Hadley was born into a family of clay tile makers at the turn of the last century and, by the 1930s, had begun painting her own pottery for use on the family houseboat.  For a while, she fired her designs at the J.B. Taylor factory before her husband purchased her a Butchertown studio for her birthday in 1944.  The current Hadley artisans continue to produce designs in Mrs. Hadley's style.  Hadley collectors love the charming, whimsical prints that are the brand's hallmark.

Most collectors fall vehemently into a Stoneware or Hadley camp.  Hadley dishes are trimmed in a subtly lighter blue than Stoneware pieces.  Louisville Stoneware often embraces Kentucky themes while Hadley Pottery is known for more whimsical pieces with farmland, stick figure, and beach themes.

Whatever your preference, these unique, Louisville-made blue-and-white pieces are staples of Kentucky tables.  They're as classic and timeless as your granny's blue transferware, but with decidedly more flair and presence.

Do y'all fall into the Blue Willow, Stoneware or Hadley camps?