In Lou Reed and John Cale's musical tribute to Andy Warhol, Songs for Drella (1990), Reed sing-speaks the pop artist's aesthetic: "I think images are worth repeating/images repeated from a painting/images taken from a painting/from a photo worth re-seeing/I love images worth repeating."
Warhol was one of the most famous collectors of Russel Wright's work, and many of us today share a Warholian passion for repeated images in our one-of-a-color collections of Wright's designs. There is something captivating about a shape, repeated in multiple hues, occupying a shelf or cabinet. Repetition reveals the nuances of the form. At the same time, juxtaposing the different colors on like forms shows the brilliance and subtlety of Wright's glazing.
I have several one-of-a-color collections, but the first one I began was a set of American Modern creamers. Sure, the American Modern pitcher, with its imposing, coal-scuttle shape is clearly a more iconic form, but who has room for ten of them -- 11 if you count Steubenville Blue? I opted for the smaller, streamlined, birdlike creamer. Its spout seemed to have been formed simply by pulling one's finger through the clay, and yet its proportion and sleekness are precise and elegant.
I didn't intend to collect one of each color. I had started a service in Chartreuse, and I merely purchased a creamer to go with it. Then, I started finding other creamers, inexpesively, at antique shops. Seafoam. Black Chutney. Coral. When I displayed them side-by-side, they reminded me of the cartoon birds in the opening credits of The Partridge Family. I started to obsess about getting all of the colors. By the late 1990s/early 2000s, I was patrolling eBay to get the rarer colors: Cantaloupe. Bean Brown. Cedar Green. White (uncrazed!). Of course, it was the peak of the market then, but if you average all of the creamers together, I probably paid about $25 for each. The more I got, the more fun I had arranging them. In a row. In a zigzag. Like a school of fish.
I stumbled upon a Glacier Blue creamer out in the wild one day, and I realized that the only one I was still missing was Granite Gray. Common, ubiquitous, humble Granite Gray. You could probably walk into any antique shop in America and buy one tomorrow. Torn between the drive to finish the set and the letdown that I knew would ensue once I did, I made a deal with myself. I would not buy a Granite Gray creamer unless I found one for $7.50 or less.
The number was arbitrary, but let me tell you, it kept the quest going for 10 years! In that decade, I must have come across dozens, possibly hundreds of granite gray creamers. But none was priced right. Around 2008, I wondered if perhaps I should adjust for inflation, and increase the price to $10. But I stuck with $7.50.
And yesterday, in Mesquite, Texas, I found a granite gray creamer marked at $6. I picked it up, along with a granite gray pitcher marked at $20, and marched to the cashier. The search was over. The collection was complete.
Now all I have to do is find the box with the other nine. I know it's here somewhere.
P.S. If anyone has documentation of a Steubenville Blue creamer, I don't want to hear about it. I'm done. I'm focusing on that redesigned Casual China mug in Charcoal now.
P.P.S. If anyone does happen to have proof that the American Modern coaster exists in Cantaloupe, please send me a picture. I can't tell if I'm on a snipe hunt with that one.