I love vintage Pyrex. I love it all but I have to declare a special place in my heart is reserved for psychedelic Pyrex. That isn’t an official term, it’s just one I use for some of the more exuberant patterns produced worldwide in the ‘Sixties and ‘Seventies. One of the things that is so striking about this type of Pyrex is that it seems to have the properties of a TARDIS – one glance at it and you’re immediately transported back several decades. There’s no problem with dating it either, it is so beautifully and unashamedly of its time.
Apparently, according to many interior design experts, including the team at Elle Decor, the ‘Seventies are back with a vengeance in terms of interiors, so now is a good time to take a closer look at the Pyrex of that period. Sadly I missed this exciting time but my mum (I did promise to say she only just remembers it herself!) says it was a mixed bag, the music and TV were good, some of the more high end interiors were stunning but in her opinion the clothes were best forgotten. Apparently, my uncle had a pair of rust coloured flares which had brightly embroidered flowers on them up to the knee and HE WORE THEM IN PUBLIC!!!! What may not have worked on gentlemen’s trousers, certainly did on ovenware though, as Indiana and Briarwood prove!
Some of the other big interior design trends for 2019 are nature (this always seems to be “in” in one form or another!) and sustainability, both of these are good news for Pyrex fans keen to make their collections a central part of their interior design schemes. Natural themes and sustainability also work well with the ‘Seventies colour palette and ethos and they are all tailor made to showcase vintage Pyrex. According to design pundits mid century modern is now well and truly over! I beg to differ but as a vintage Pyrex person I suppose I’m biased. Just the number of TV shows heavily featuring mid mod, such as Endeavour, The Marvellous Mrs Maisel and upcoming dramas (in the UK – not sure when/if these will get to the US) Summer of Rockets and The Trial of Christine Keeler, will keep the best of mid century modern at the top of the design agenda.
‘Seventies colour schemes could vary somewhat, bright colours were certainly ‘in’ but so were the more muted hues of mustard yellow, olive green and a myriad of shades of brown, colours often found in nature. This brings me neatly to one of the best vintage JAJ patterns ever, the stunning Toledo! Strictly speaking, Toledo is a late ‘Sixties pattern but (somewhat ironically) it’s also the one which many collectors see as all the best of ‘Seventies decor rolled into one design. Toledo is arguably the most famous of the ‘Medallion’ patterns which JAJ were famous for in the ‘Sixties and early ‘Seventies. Interestingly, the medallion motif is also back as a burgeoning design trend in itself for 2019. Toledo therefore ticks all the boxes if you want to be at the cutting edge this year as it embodies the ‘Seventies, is in colours associated with nature and heavily featured in the groovy ‘Seventies colour palette and as it’s vintage, also speaks to sustainability. Toledo casseroles come in both the Easy-Grip and later styles, both of which fit the ‘Seventies interiors style but personally I find the Easy-Grip much more pleasing, with its roundness and bubble lid. Of course, the Easy-Grip style had all but been discontinued at the start of the ‘Seventies, so the later style casserole may well have been seen as more desirable and modern at the time.
The time machine that is Toledo!
Of course, one of the advantages of being a vintage Pyrex collector in the twenty-first century, as opposed to someone with a brand new set of Pyrex dishes in the ‘Seventies, is that we can proudly display our Pyrex to be admired by our friends wherever we like in our homes whereas a person in the ‘Seventies would have been seen as somewhat eccentric if they had suggested that their Pyrex could be used for interior design purposes, rather than just for Coq Au Vin! Vintage Pyrex now takes pride of place in many a display cabinet but of course you could just as easily use a favourite piece in other places (I say this as someone who uses a duck egg Carnival Cinderella as a fruit bowl). With Cinderella bowls popping up as light shades and plant pots, I see no reason why a Pyrex piece which you adore could not be placed on a sideboard or coffee table, just as a vase or other decorative accessory would be. A stack of Easy-Grip casseroles would look pretty good on living room shelves or, if you’re lucky enough to have one, on a ‘Sixties/‘Seventies Scandinavian sideboard, chosen either to match the main colour scheme of a room, or as a contrast.
Another ‘Seventies medallion pattern is the delicate Morning Star, in orange and blue. A little more subtle than Toledo, Morning Star always reminds me of snowflakes (actual snowflakes, not the Gaiety kind!) but I feel the colour combination in the pattern is unusual for the decade in which it was produced and is less likely to fit comfortably with the more earthy tones popular then and now. The same can’t be said of Medallion Five in either of its colour ways! These pieces are brazenly funky, with colours to match. I love these dishes but their colour scheme is pretty ‘in your face’ and they’re not for everyone. That said, a mixed stack including both colours could introduce some interesting accents into a mustard or beige room. Tempo (or Carnaby as some fans call it) marries earthy shades with light blue and green. The design features stylised, funked up flowers which have been given a particularly ‘Seventies vibe. This pattern seems to be an attempt to marry a more traditional JAJ blue/green, flowery design with a more contemporary interpretation of it and it works well. Tempo has a much more modern feel to it than the ‘Sixties designs of Matchmaker, Checkers or Chelsea, both in terms of colour and motif.
Medallion Five and Indiana have funky ‘Seventies credentials.
A ‘Seventies style sideboard like this would look great displaying a carefully chosen vintage Pyrex stack in an accent colour.
The ‘Seventies trend emphasises different textures, like rattan, wood, wicker, wool and of course shag pile carpets (I have no direct experience of these but can imagine they are very high maintenance and a nightmare if you have pets or small children!) and glass fits very well with them. It’s sort of ironic then that it was in the ‘Seventies that JAJ decided to team plastic with its glass by introducing glass cups with brightly coloured plastic ‘sleeves’ and Stack’N’Store containers – glass storage jars with plastic lids – not, in my opinion anyway, their finest hour.
Morning Star, a hard colour scheme to match but a beautiful design.
According to House Beautiful magazine, open shelving in kitchens will be popular over the next year or so, which could be the answer to many a Pyrex collector’s prayer as they will be able to hide their addiction in plain sight! The very ‘Seventies colours of mustard and olive green are set to be big in kitchens and that too is good news for collectors. Both the US Pyrex patterns Crazy Daisy and Butterfly Gold (here I must confess that I love the second Butterfly Gold but am not crazy about the first one, strangely!) would look fantastic against those background colours and would look brilliant stacked on open shelving on a wall in one of those colours.
The current kitchen trend for very dark cabinets or walls, or sometimes both, can also provide an excellent backdrop for a display of vintage Pyrex, although I feel, in terms of JAJ, that it is the collections from the ‘Fifties and early ‘Sixties, such as Colourware, Weardale, Gaiety and Carnival, which can really shine in this kind of environment due to their bright colours, rather than later designs featuring motifs on a white background, or perhaps that’s just me and my love of bright colours! American Pyrex seems to have maintained bright all over colour for longer than JAJ and designs such as Colonial Mist would look elegant and sumptuous displayed against dark cabinetry. Of course, the exception to what seems to have been a move away from all over bold colour at JAJ in the ‘Seventies is the 2001, produced in bright shades of orange and teal, with a very flower powery lid! They would also pop against a dark kitchen scheme.
As I’ve already said though, it seems a shame, with the current interest in ‘Seventies styling, to restrict vintage Pyrex displays to kitchens and bathrooms. In the ‘Seventies, Scandinavian style modular furniture was huge and like the sideboards this lent itself very well to display. A few well chosen vintage Pyrex pieces could look stunning in a living or family room displayed in this way.
‘Seventies style modular furniture and vintage Pyrex would be a match made in heaven!
In fact, I think that some of the designs made for and inspired by the Scandinavian countries, in particular the Red Hearts, would look very stylish displayed individually or in stacks in a living area. Personally, I think that they would be easier to blend in to a room design than the red and blue hearts, although they could also look fabulous in just the right setting.
The red Hearts with a very ‘Seventies phone.
Although it does sometimes make me sad that most vintage Pyrex is no longer used for the purpose for which it was intended (although I have a well used Tuscany oval casserole which bucks that particular trend), it is good to see it being transformed into an interior design essential as it would be a shame for the beautiful patterns and streamlined designs of these twentieth century classics to be hidden away out of sight.
I’m a student, swimmer and sci-fi fan by day but by night (well, more like evenings, weekends and Bank Holidays) I don my apron and become the Pyrex Party Pixie! I love all things Pyrex and have been a collector for some time now.
My earliest experience of Pyrex was my mum’s clear jug and mixing bowl - both of which, had I bothered to think of them at all, I would have considered boring, and utilitarian. Then I saw some vintage Pyrex in a charity shop and I was hooked! I love cooking and I’d never seen such colourful, versatile and well-designed cookware before. Using the colourful designs from the ‘fifties, ‘sixties and ‘seventies really brightens your day, whether you’re cooking for pleasure or through necessity. As my collection grew I discovered that I genuinely enjoy looking for vintage pieces, almost as much as I enjoy displaying and using them and thus Pyrex Party Pixie came to be. Not everyone enjoys the search though, so I thought it would be good to have a one-stop vintage Pyrex shop online, especially helpful for collectors or casual admirers who don’t have access to any local sources of new pieces.
This blog is based on my love of vintage Pyrex! Hope you enjoy :)
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