Sunday, March 02, 2014

From the ages of about 22 to 27, one of my top interests in this world was, oddly enough, colourful vintage plastic dishware. I searched every single crevice of every single antique market, thrift shop, and junk store for the stuff, as if it were as valuable and rare as the finest china.



Called "melmac", but made by a multitude of companies, this midcentury invention was marketed as the unbreakable dish dream for housewives who were tired of sweeping up the shattered pieces of dishes after every mealtime accident. Or so I assume.



What originally drew me to melmac was the nostalgic dream of summer camp dishes and picnics at the campsite, where its lightweight and sturdy nature would be welcome. It reminded me of fruit punch swigged from plastic teacups and the clatter of plastic plates at the camp sink.



My mother worked in a summer camp kitchen for much of her early 20s and was thrilled when she inherited an entire set of melmac "camp" dishes from her church. These dishes were often used in setting such as this- for large church suppers and camps or anywhere where many mouths needed to be fed and many dishes needed to be bought (many inexpensive dishes).


Melmac comes in almost every colour of the rainbow, from the palest pastel pink of the 1950s to the muddy chartreuse of the 1970s. Some plates even bore designs- flowers and leaves that gently washed away to faded memories over the years. My two most coveted colours were pink and robin's egg blue. Something about them, with the soft lines and their creamy colour, is heaven to me.


I have slowed down considerable in my collecting of melmac, but something about them still speaks to my heart
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