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Behind the scenes: Balancing homeschooling kids & vintage hire

By Helen Anderson (aka The Elegant Monkey)

When Monkey Business approached us to join them in their catering adventures to supply unique vintage hire pieces it was a resounding YES from us. We were all in! We created some packages immediately and Amy (aka head monkey) wasted no time in updating the website with our page going live in February this year ( see https://monkeybusiness.catering/vintage-hire/). 

And then… COVID. And home time… family self-isolation… a bundle of kids to home school and you know… However, we have not been idle and have spent many delightful hours playing with the china!

After working bespoke set ups with many talented brides and stylists we thought we had tried every possible combination of our collection.  Then along came Amy and asked us to “mix it all up” to work with catering packages.  And so we did… With much thought and attention to detail our collection is now sorted broadly into themes.

The themes include:

  • Pretty in Pink
  • Beautiful Blues
  • Floral Riot
  • Elegant Provincial
  • Dining Drama… and more!

So how have we come up with our packages,  and why do our themes work so well? Here is our secret… the process…

To combine china well you need to leave certain design elements out… this is how the magic happens.  

Firstly we need a lot of space to lay out  all the dinner plates, cake plates and teacups.  We take into account colour palette and  design; that is the value and intensity of the colour, scale of the design, genre, and common pattern styles.  For effect we add a few pieces which stand out… mavericks.  

The pared back French feel is represented in our “Elegant Provincial” theme, the dramatic intense florals and strong colours are lovely in the “Floral Riot” and “Dining Drama” themes.

Once the sorting of the china is done we test out each new range – just as though we were sending it out for hire!  We literally unpack a broad sampling and spread the vintage loveliness out “blindfolded”.   When the sorting is done right the effect is delightful and there are always lovely new combinations of crockery.  

“Elegant Provincial”  is my personal favourite.  The range includes every small detail that makes vintage china stand apart from the boring plain plate.  There are dainty textures and edgings around the rims of plates and cups, and an abundance of rich gold filigree against a muted colour scheme of cream, dusk pink, white, and delicate pastels.   We’ve made the range pop with a few delicate trailing florals  and some gentle country scenes.  Vintage can never, ever be boring or repetitive!

The unpacking and laying out of our beautiful vintage china is the most satisfying part of our work.  The resulting eye candy makes the hard work of sorting and storing all those cups, saucers and plates worthwhile.  

Another fun part of the process is our quality control.  Every piece of china and every silver teapot which we send out for hire has been tested, and many have been lovingly included in family celebrations. It’s like a “getting to know you” ritual, to maintain our high standards.  Pieces of china which have been too well loved are set aside for vintage projects, or little gifts.  (Vintage cups make lovely containers on dressing tables). 

We even brew tea in the teapots! Nothing compares to a cup of tea poured from a well seasoned teapot.  Though an antique dealer once told me the sad story of selling a silver teapot to a lady planning a special high tea.  The teapot was returned the next day once it was discovered that the spout was completely blocked by tannins!  (It was extremely antique)

As COVID restrictions change, I have also been part of the ongoing photography food efforts with Monkey Business Catering, Foodie Shots & Little Pig Consulting. Keep an eye out for the wonderful photos & videos that will be released over the coming months showcasing Monkey Business Catering’s food & our gorgeous Elegant Vintage Hire.

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