November 23, 2020
“Celebrating MacKenzie-Childs” is a beautiful new book that does just that, telling the story of our company from its founding in 1983 to today in gorgeous images and text.
It was written by Jo Anne Welsh, the author of “Chintz Ceramics,” now in its third edition and published by Schiffer Publishing. Jo Anne, a graduate of the University of Maryland, did graduate work in antique and ceramic arts at Corpus Christi College in Oxford, England. She has written articles that have been published in Decorating Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Colonial Homes, and Victoria Magazine, and has participated in several decorator show houses featuring her design work. She lives in Maryland, where she loves the art of entertaining and keeping a beautiful home.
Jo Anne, who has been collecting MacKenzie-Childs ceramics since 1992, says her love of ceramics began when she was a little girl and helped her mother in her ceramics studio. “I can remember the smell of the clay and the different glazes that she mixed. One of my favorite memories was making roses out of a ball of clay, intricately laying petal by petal to decorate a picture frame or a small ceramic box.”
Years later, Jo Anne discovered MacKenzie-Childs at Neiman Marcus in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Says Jo Anne, “There was a special area for MacKenzie-Childs in the china department, and the table settings were always changing with one more beautiful than the next. I started acquiring the Honeymoon pattern in all the different colors and I was hooked! I still love setting the table with my Honeymoon collection today.”
Soon, more pieces were added after Jo Anne found a gift shop in Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. There, she purchased fish knobs for her kitchen cabinets and a Turtle Tureen that has been filled with many bowls of Maryland crab soup.
Today, Jo Anne’s collection numbers in the hundreds of items and is quite eclectic. “When I found a new pattern or shape that sparked my interest, it found a spot in my home. I have marveled from egg cups to beautifully decorated pie plates, teapots of many shapes to butter dishes that could hold a full pound of butter to even mini tuffets!”
Is there an ultimate MacKenzie-Childs item that Jo Anne is seeking? “Yes—I would love to have a full-sized tuffet made from all my favorite patterns sitting next to my chair and a Ridiculous Bench to rest my feet.”
Jo Anne began thinking about writing a book about MacKenzie-Childs in 2019 and had the time to start her research earlier this year during the COVID-19 quarantine. “As the COVID-19 pandemic lagged on indefinitely, I knew it would be a great time to learn more about the history of MacKenzie-Childs. I was not only interested in learning the history of the company and the intricate ways the products were made by hand in limited quantities, but also wondered how the names were chosen for different collections. I wanted to know more about the clay bodies of each piece. As my research continued, I realized that no one had written a book celebrating this cherished brand and the charming history of MacKenzie-Childs.”
We’re grateful that Jo Anne took on the challenge of writing a book that will delight every MacKenzie-Childs collector. At more than 250 pages, this hardcover publication would make a wonderful holiday gift. It’s presented in a beautiful slipcase decorated with our Courtly Check and Flower Market patterns, and it bears an embossed MacKenzie-Childs nameplate. In addition to thoroughly looking at ceramics and telling the stories behind many of our patterns, the book also includes hand-painted furniture, our signature pattern of Courtly Check, The Entertaining Kitchen, our holiday collection, our retail stores, and our signature event, the Barn Sale. (In fact, longtime attendees might even see themselves in that chapter!)
Jo Anne hopes that readers experiencing the book will feel the same happiness that the brand brings her. “When someone asks me what appeals to me about MacKenzie-Childs, my answer is simply that MacKenzie-Childs makes me happy. The vibrant colors and quirky mindset tell a story about the way I want to live, surrounded with beauty and joy. They are visually pleasing and practical at the same time, a great combo for anything we possess. The colors of MacKenzie-Childs are always exciting and unexpectedly dance amongst the dots, squiggles, checks, and flowers. Surround yourself with flowers all year round, and you’ll never have a dreary day!”
And to that sentiment, we heartily agree, and we thank Jo Anne for sharing our ever-evolving story.