In check with Courtly Check
March 27, 2018
Courtly Check, one of our longest-running patterns, is probably our most beloved too. And because there’s so much that we love and want to celebrate about Courtly Check, we decided to expand on the idea of National Make Up Your Own Holiday Day on March 26 and make this week Courtly Check Week.
Courtly Check got its start more than 30 years ago when it first appeared on a hand-painted armoire as a thin border to separate two ornate patterns. Then in 1995, Courtly Check was featured on the enamelware in the Camp MacKenzie-Childs collection, which was designed for casual outdoor use and glamping. The enamelware was called Roasted Marshmallow because mixed in with the overall black and white check were subtle hints of additional colors that resembled the caramelized sugar on marshmallows toasted over an open fire. A few years later, the pattern was renamed Courtly Check after an editor referred to MacKenzie-Childs as “the court jester of tabletop.”
After making random appearances on a wide variety of designs, including hand-painted glassware, Courtly Check took off when it was incorporated into pottery production in 2004. In 2009, after years of development, we started printing it on linen, which gave way to our Underpinnings upholstered furniture collection and to dozens of other products.
Fast-forward nearly a decade later, and Courtly Check has become our undeniable signature. In fact, the Courtly Check name and pattern are registered U.S. trademarks. We hand-paint Courtly Check on ceramics and enamelware, and we print it on fabrics, wallpaper, and dozens of other products. Currently, you can find Courtly Check on everything from dinnerware to drapes, from pillows to Halloween pumpkins, and so much more. But did you know that we’ve also made Courtly Check boots, Courtly Check desk accessories, Courtly Check jewelry, and even a Courtly Check grill?
The pattern has so much versatility because it is so much more than a simple black and white check. In fact, it’s the additional colors in the pattern—including peacock blue, celadon green, and ochre—that give Courtly Check its texture and depth, says Kathy Connell, one of our designers who trains artisans in painting Courtly Check on enamelware.
With our hand-painted enamelware and ceramics, those additional colors are incorporated with a technique that we call “color dragging.” Because it is hand-done, there are subtle differences in color dragging that can vary a little from painter to painter, which makes every piece of Courtly Check its own work of art.
Tish Gibson, our lead decorator in ceramics, says decorators can always identify their own Courtly Check and can even pick out their pieces from a larger group.
It’s that bit of personality that makes every piece of Courtly Check unique and is one of the things that we love best about the pattern. We also love that it mixes and matches so well with some of our other patterns. Try it with the fresh blooms of our Flower Market pieces, and we think you’ll agree.
Courtly Check is chic, casual, and cozy all at the same time, and it’s become our classic.