I have a fondness for trays and embarrassingly admit, it all began with the tv tray in the 1960's. My family did not use tv trays, but almost every other household did, including my grandparents. In my home, every meal was eaten at the dining room table, every child in attendance and absolutely no television viewing. What was inciting about the tv tray in a eight year old mind was how it broke the dinner time rules. These individual folding tables placed in front of a cozy chair, were specifically designed for eating dinner while watching television at the same time. I thought it was genius, my mother thought it was tacky. Naturally, mother was correct. But as a child, there was something alluring about eating your meatloaf and mash potatoes while watching "The Jetsons" and not having to share meals with the constant chatter and fighting of six other children.
My interest in trays peaked again in the early 80's when a friend of mine, Alice B. (not Alice B. Toklas, I am not that old) served tea and cookies on a tole metal tray with lovely hand painted flowers. She had recently moved back to the States after living in England for several years and was all into being a Brit. Not in the radical Sex Pistols, punk rock, pogo dancing, spiked haired, twenty something but as a quaint country lady, a Jane Eyre type minus the long printed frock and stiff straw bonnet tied under the chin. Alas, a late afternoon refreshment served on a tray in front of a fire on a cold, foggy California day got the tray passion flowing.
I consider trays a form of sophistication and versatility. They come in all shapes and sizes, made from natural and man made substances. They can be made from rattan, wood, metal, glass and plastic. There are stunning black lacquered Chinese trays with inlaid mother-of-pearl, silver trays with inticate etchings, wooden trays with detailed carvings and plastic trays with bold Van Gogh sunflowers or a provincial "starry-night " painting embossed on the surface (probably made for those trying to enliven their senses with Impressionist paintings, even on a lowly plastic tray. Confession, I had one of those, a Gauguin).
I prefer vintage trays but not nesscessairly for just serving food or drinks. Let's take a look how I use trays....
Sterling silver trays can boast more than the tea pot, sugar bowl and creamer. In the photo above you will see, I adorned my silver serving tray with beautiful antique wine glasses from the 1920's, ethereal and delicately displayed upon the wine cabinet. Do something old with something new .... a hurricane candle holder from Pier One Imports sitting center on a vintage silver tray. FYI ... the candle must be lavender to get the whole shabby chic, French Provence experience!
My personal favorites are mirrored vanity trays that keep my perfume bottles corralled. I have so many bottles of perfume, I was embarrassed to photograph them. These metal vintage beauties from the 50's and 60's are generally inexpensive to purchase and can be dolled up with a fresh coat of spray paint. Seriously, what a mood setter seeing the amber tones of perfume being reflected off a mirrored tray.
|for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/oohlalamaui (SOLD)|
Cocktails anyone? Get your retro groove on and serve a frosty drink on a vintage metal tray . These trays were made for the collectors.... the weary road traveler seeing the USA in their Chevrolet. These are darling as wall decor with their vibrant colors and old time font. I love looking at the maps!
Finding a tray you like is all in your personality or maybe, how you are feeling at the time... dinner party, something for the dresser, spicing up the bathroom? If you are looking for the romantic look, silver or silver plated is a good choice. Like the shabbier look? Keep a little tarnish on your tray especially where it might highlight etchings or ornate scrolls. Looking for something more retro? Metal with advertisements, funky chunky flowers or souvenirs trays are always fun. Like the European country look? Tole painted trays. Like the scruffy look? Tole trays with chipped paint and rust are easy to find, one word, Ebay. If you are more serious about your trays, flip them over and look for markings.
Printed markings like this Pilgrim Art tray.
|for sale at wwwetsy.com/shop/oohlalamaui ~ $95|
or paper markings found on Nashco Products, New York. Silver markings are numerous and vast. Get knowledgeable before buying silver. Silver plated is cheaper and a good alternative if you are constantly changing your mind on house decor.
One last thing. Make sure you clean your trays with the utmost care. Lightly wash your painted trays in mild soap and cool water. Pat dry. Cleaning silver, I prefer Goddard's silver polish when attempting to achieve a more polished look, Tarnex to keep it shabbier. Either way, unless you want a chemical peel, wear gloves when using these chemicals .... believe me, I know.
Hoping to have the store open soon. I will post an announcement on Blog Spot and FB. By the way, you may be wondering why "La De Da, Maui"? It's a phrase I picked up (minus the Maui) after watching a Woody Allen's flick,"Annie Hall" many moons ago. When people have attitude or think highly of themselves, the words "la de da" floats through my brain like a banner. But mostly, this is my "go to" phrase when I find a rather special vintage piece in a most unusual way. It makes me laugh inside. So, "la de da, la de da" from Maui.
Update ~ August 31, 2011 Thanks to my clever niece, Jenny, who happened to use the phrase "Ooh la la"! Renamed store!