From the Permanent Collection: A Forest Fantasy Tablecloth

IMG_2232A lot of vintage linens cross my path. I’ve been looking and loving and buying them for 35 years and, while I’ve seen many that are stunning, my own collection is small. Our lifestyle is very casual so we have no need for formal or fancy linens. I tend to keep the plain and homespun, the quirky, the practical.

I only keep a couple of tablecloths around. To achieve a spot in my permanent collection a tablecloth needs to be good quality, have a design or look that fits the rustic camp aesthetic, and isn’t too fussy or cutesy or precious.

One special tablecloth meets all my standards!

It features a printed design in two understated colors of brown on a just-slightly-off-white background. The design is of a serene and happy fantasy forest with spotted deer, and the odd fox and bunny boy, frolicking amid the pines and birches. Small cozy cottages are tucked in, with smoke rising from the chimneys and the center of the cloth is strewn with falling leaves, dancing on a crisp, autumn breeze. Can you feel the breeze? And to top it all off, no motif is repeated—every border and every corner features different deer.

I find the graphics on this tablecloth endlessly appealing—so much has been accomplished, visually, with so little! The design is charming and nostalgic, without saccharine sweetness. And the simple, stylized elements are consistent with other influences that inform my aesthetic (doesn’t that sound grandiose!)—Arts and Crafts Movement, Art Deco, the artist Rockwell Kent. In fact, look how great the cloth looks with these plates I bought years ago!

IMG_2249 IMG_2246I first saw this cloth on eBay and fell for it immediately. As you may know, eBay has moved beyond the auction format and some items are now for sale at a set price. This tablecloth was one such item and the set price was high! At least it was by my standards. I’m used to finding linens at garage and estate sales so a tablecloth that was priced at over $100 produced instant sticker shock. No way, I thought.

And, yet, I kept going back to it. And looking at it again. And loving everything about it. My husband urged me to buy it. Sometimes I listen to him.

The next morning I decided this was one such time and logged on to make that pretty thing my own.

And it was gone. It had been bought by someone else and I was bereft!

I thought about it and pined for it. I stomped my feet and gnashed my teeth. I even pinned it on Pinterest, lamenting that I hadn’t bought it. If I couldn’t have it, I at least wanted to keep a picture of it.

And then, a couple of weeks later, I was on eBay and there it was! Apparently, it hadn’t been sold, but, rather, the listing had ended or something (much about eBay is a total mystery to me!)

The tablecloth was still available and still stunning and . . . it was priced at $30 less than it had been! Still expensive but . . .

I know a propitious sign when I see one! I hit the “buy it now” button and never looked back!

I have to admit, I’ve never put this tablecloth on an actual table, except to take the photos here. We have been known to spill, at our table, and the perfection of this tablecloth is daunting. But buying it did light a fire, to create a display space I’d been thinking about for awhile—vintage glass towel rods on the side of a pantry, which hold some of my favorite linens.

IMG_2237Autumn is the perfect time to pull this cloth off the shelf, touch up the ironing, and feast my eyes on my fantasy forest.

I smile every time I look at it. And is that isn’t a fine criterion for admission into the permanent condition, I don’t know what is!


51 thoughts on “From the Permanent Collection: A Forest Fantasy Tablecloth

  1. What a gorgeous find! I love the design, and it fits well right between the fall and winter stages. This couldn’t sit on my table for a second without getting red wine or some sauce spilled on it.

  2. In my old house, we had high ceilings, so I mounted some curtain rods above the kitchen cabinets and hung some of my favorite tablecloths up there, and they also made me smile each time I came into the room. But I love the vintage glass towel rods so much better! I am going to have to go get some now!

    • I love that idea of tablecloths up over the head! But since I can stand on my toes and touch my ceilings, I guess I’ll just have to imagine it. I found my glass towel bars on eBay (notice a theme here?) but I know you can buy reproduction ones, too.

  3. In a Japanese household there is almost always a niche which displays a painting (Usually a scroll) related to the season, accompanied by a branch of leaves or spray of flowers which also related the season. The display is rotated every three months or so. I adopted this idea for an otherwise boring stair landing – I display a wall hanging, with a pottery pitcher or urn filled with different (usually artificial, because I’m lazy) flowers to reflect the season.

    The changing display is much more appreciated than one that is always there – one notices the new thing a lot more. And the individual hangings get less sun exposure and will last longer.

    • I love this seasonal display idea. I think you’re absolutely right that it’s appreciated more because it’s fresh. I need to go out and find more seasonal tablecloths that I adore!

  4. That is a very attractive cloth! I don’t think I have ever seen one featuring a different layout in each corner. I too would find that awakening the ‘want-it’ feeling. The cloth and plates look as if they were meant to be a set though I would find that too much in one setting I think. I love your idea for displaying your favourites – I tend to be one of those awful people who have it all out at once [my aesthetic is not always informed!] mainly because I have so little space there is no room for extra storage …… sigh! Your husband is on a fast track to becoming the best one ever – encouraging you to buy a tablecloth for $100 surely must elevate him to super-spouse status!!

  5. I love that tablecloth. The design is so special. I wonder if you know where it was produced. I also like your idea of the towel racks in the pantry.

    • I don’t know who made it. I’ve seen a similar one that was made by Calaprint and identical ones in shades of blue. If I run across another one, I’ll let you know!

  6. I’m so glad you have a way to display your treasures. What’s the point of a collection if you can’t see it? Yeah, I realize there are archival reasons, but unless an item is worth way more than $100 or is extremely fragile I say show it off. And I love the idea of rotating your collection to refresh the view.

    • I have too many treasures! But I do like having at least some of them out where I can enjoy them. I should rotate things more often–every time I do, it makes me happy for days!

  7. Oh deer, what a story! And to think it goes perfectly with the plates you had bought years ago…amazing! So glad that it’s on display and nof in a drawer somewhere.

  8. I CAN feel the breeze!

    What an amazing match it is with the dishes! (It just goes to show, you’re consistent.)

    I really think you ought to use it–and since you are prone to spilling, just make sure you eat brown and beige food, and avoid cherry Kool-Aid.

    One of your best-written blogs, by the way.


  9. I just signed up for your blog this fall and I have enjoyed all your posts. This tablecloth is beautiful and perfect for this time of year. My dad recently sold his home and moved into a retirement home. We prepared for a sale and went through all my mom’s beautiful linens. I could not keep all of them, but my sister and I kept a few. Some of them were beautiful cross stitched linens with matching napkins that my great-grandmother made that had never been used. I have used them and I know we may stain them, but I enjoy looking at them and they bring me such pleasure.😊

    • Hi, Vicky–it’s so nice to have you here! You are lucky to have linens from your family–I’m glad you appreciate them and I hope the ones you couldn’t keep find their way to others who will give them good homes. Mostly, I agree 100% about using vintage items–and I’m quite willing to do it. I just haven’t quite gotten there yet with this one, though . . . 😉

  10. That is indeed a work of art.It sings a song, I can feel that breeze, I can look at it all day! What a glorious find and ohoh those plates. Did you not score a plate/bowl with deer this spring on a garage sale?

    • You have the most amazing memory, Johanna! Yes, I did buy a little ceramic basket with a similar deer design–good eye! I decided to sell that, though–it was a little fancy for my world and it went to a very good home!

  11. I like that you found a way to enjoy and display your treasured tablecloth even though it won’t be used on the table. Is that the red pastry wheel embroidered cloth higher up in the photo that I remember from a previous post? I enjoy reading all your linen stories.

    • What amazing observational skills, to notice and remember that pastry cloth! Actually, a couple of the other items there are ones I’ve written about, too, in A Tale of Two Towels and History and Mystery. Once I write about something I find it harder to let it go.

  12. I love those little woodland creatures! I have a fun table cloth I use during the fall (not at all vintage or special, I’m sure it came from World Market) with game birds on it but this takes the cake. I especially love the little bunny frolicking. I’ll admit, before I clicked to read the whole post, I was really really hoping this was for sale. But I’m sure it’s happy with the love you give it. =) Also I’m really digging the towel holder display. I’m looking to freshen up my kitchen this month (we finally finally chose a paint color!) and think that could work really well for some of the cute hand towels I have. Very excited to go home and check out my wall space!

    • The woodland creatures are what sold me on the tablecloth–they are serene and not too Disney. I’ve also seen this same design in two shades of blue. I bought my glass towel bars on eBay but I know you can get reproductions, too. They are made of tempered glass so very strong and not likely to break. I love the look!

    • I’ve been very happy with the display–I couldn’t justify spending that kind of $$ on the cloth and then sticking in a drawer. I saw the display idea on Pinterest–it may be the only thing I’ve pinned that I ever followed through on! (oh, except the magic remedy for soap scum–that’s a good one, too!)

  13. What a wonderful display rack for your beautiful linens. The tablecloth and the plate are a perfect match, and I love a tablecloth that tells a story. When I saw your first photo of the tablecloth I immediately thought of Susie Cooper and the deer she placed on her china designs. She started using the leaping deer mark about 1932 but I don’t know why she chose that design apart from her interest in plants and animal/nature.

    • That’s so cool–I didn’t know about Cooper’s work! The leaping deer design seems to have a heyday in the 1930s–I’ve seen a remarkable number of variations on the theme.

      • Yes, I wish I knew more about this interest in the deer. I adore Susie Cooper’s work. I have a few pieces and they are beautiful and supremely functional. My pieces date from the 50s.

  14. I’m with you on a love for old linens! Do you have any ideas on the origin of the piece? And I love the display on the back of your pantry door. I am considering doing the same, as my family always leave the door open when they go in to fetch something – why fight it?

    • I don’t have any idea of its origins at all–no tags, no back story, nothing. I have seen similar patterns and the same design done in two shades of blue. Maybe I’ll make up a beguiling story about its history! 😉

  15. Oh- you were meant to have it! Love that it goes so well with the plates. Once on a trip home to Australia I found, at a weekend market, a lovely wooden box carved out of a gnarled knot. I kept returning to that stall and running my fingers over it but I didn’t buy it because it was too expensive by my standards. I was sorry when we left for the US that I had not bought it…. but thrilled on Christmas morning to find my husband had bought it for me! He’d secretly gone back and bought it – he says that when he saw me running my fingers so lovingly over it that he just had to get it for me. I appreciate it all the more because of that.

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