Confessions of a Pyrex Hoarder Part 1: Why Pyrex and How to Display It
If you’re on Pinterest of Facebook, I’d love it if you could help me out by pinning this! Thank you!
Please note that this is Part 1. In order to go into pattern names and makers of some of the items pictured that aren’t Pyrex (as well as their pattern names and history), I’ll be doing a Part 2 at some point.
Okay, I’m now ready to admit it. For the first time. Ever. Earlier this week, while trying to organize my Pyrex in four different locations in the house, I kept coming across empty spots, so I’d go upstairs and bring down just a few more pieces. Then I’d find another empty spot, so I’d go get a few more pieces. Then I finally decided to just bring it all down and look at it, but five trips later I came to the conclusion that was going to be an impossible task. I discovered pyrex in drawers, on shelves, in boxes, under my guest bed, in cabinets, stacked under tables from the last photo shoot, and even in a tower of boxes that were just shipped back from a photo shoot for my next book.
My husband looked at me and said “Now, do you think you have enough dishes?”
For the first time ever, I nodded. Yup. now I do.
But I know a lot of y’all think they’re as pretty and fun as I do because I heard back in BIG ways from y’all when I posted photos on Facebook and Instagram (follow me here). So today I thought I’d answer some of the questions you’ve sent in and tell you a little more about the whats, whys, and hows of my collection.
Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?
Why do I buy vintage Pyrex?
1. It’s pretty. Vintage Pyrex, with it’s assortment of patterns and colors, is just flat out pretty and cheerful. I don’t keep my collection just to Pyrex, though. I love all vintage milk glass and also hae a wide assortment of Fire King, Hazel Atlas, Federal Glass, and more.
2. It’s functional. I use every single piece of pyrex you see here. Whenever I go to bake something, especially when I’m photographing it, I grab a different bowl or dish.
3. It’s affordable – sometimes. I am always shopping for deals. If I want something very badly, I may see it in five different auctions or flea markets, but I don’t buy it until I find it at a good price. Chances are, if you need a dish, you can buy a new one with no chacter or cuteness to it, or for the same money (if you shop around) you can get a vintage piece with history and charm.
Note: I don’t use the new pyrex to bake in as it is made of a different type of glass and is not as durable as the vintage pyrex. While I have no problem baking in a dish that is forty years old or more, I ‘m not comfortable using a pyrex baking dish made in 2013 Two different products entirely. Yes, I’ve had new pyrex dishes explode on me.
Reader Question: Where do you get all of my pyrex? Ebay, flea markets, thrift stores, and a few pieces have been passed down to me by my mother and my husband’s family.
Reader Question: How do you care for your Pyrex collection? Mine stays dusty!
I NEVER Wash pyrex in the dishwasher, or any other vintage dishes for that matter. A good rule of thumb is, if Dishwashers weren’t common when it was invented, it is not dishwasher safe. Doing so will result in a dull, often chalky finish, and paint loss.
Use it! I don’t have to dust my pyrex because I use it pretty often. You’ll never see my pyrex arranged the same way twice for this very reason.
Reader Question: How do you display your Pyrex so the bowls don’t nest in each other?
Great question! It’s easy to store all of your bowls for display without having them nest into each other. All you need is a quick trip to the store to get some of these puppies:
I use the Rubbermaid small, Ziploc small, and Ziplock Extra Small bowls. These are the little plastic ones like you might store leftovers or pack your lunch in.
Each of these has a different height and diameter so I play with them to see how high up I need my bowls to be. Some of the patterned ones need to be taller for the pattern so show, so I’d use the center bowl for that. Some of my sets may have four or five to a set so I’d use the left one for that, and sometimes, if I need them to sit even closer, I use one of these bowls without the lid on it so they only have an inch or so rise.
Pyrex New Dot Bowls with small ziplock containers inside them.
Stack like this!
Note, these are not Cinderella bowls. These are regular bowls…
I just want a little rise on these smaller bowls so I don’t use the lids, and stick a small bowl inside each one..
Note: These are all Cinderella bowls. That is a design name for bowls that have handles. Many patterns came in both regular and Cinderella bowls. If you’ll look, you’ll see that one handle is larger than the other. Each handle actually has raised sides and serves as a spout for pouring, so each Cinderella bowl has a larger spout on one side and smaller on the other, to make it a breeze to use regardless of what you were cooking. I have no idea why Pyrex has completely abandoned this innovation and quality these days – but they have.
to get this effect!
Sometimes, with the larger sets, you may have to use a small container in the larger bowls and graduate to a smaller container for the top bowl, too, so I like to get all three sizes to have on hand whenever I’m working on a display.
I love these beautiful sunflower casseroles. It’s hard to find them with the lids intact.
HINT FOR SHIPPING: If you find a set like this on Ebay and win it, I always email the seller and offer to pay an additional $5.00 to help them package it. This really increases my survival rate during shipping!
I use this gooseberry pink refrigerator dish, that belonged to my husband’s grandmother, to marinate chops and chicken in.
Pyrex Lasagna Dishes. Pattern names are (from top to bottom): Snowflake Garland, Spring Blossom, Friendship, and Butterfly Gold. These are great dishes for casseroles and cakes and they’re just slightly larger than your average 9×13.
A few dishes from my casserole collection.
Pyrex Amish Butterprint in Yellow (on left). This is usually seen in turquoise and like most pyrex patterns this one comes in refrigerator dishes, mixing bowls (Cinderella and regular), casseroles, and more. On the right is Gooseberry Pink, one of the most popular and expensive patterns right now. Unfortunately, many pieces of this pattern seem to have met their demise in the dishwasher because most of what you find will have a faded or chalky finish.
READER QUESTION: How does your backsplash transition to the fridge? It doesn’t, it just stops onthe rght side of the fridge and then never starts again. I received several compliments on my granite countertops and thought they were so sweet but I gotta tell y’all, that’s just plain old formica
Kitchen ADDITION, BEFORE AND AFTER
READER QUESTION: I love your new addition. Can you tell us about it? Thank you so much! Above are the before and after pictures of that corner. My dad got all of the cabinets in a house he worked on. A family replaced them and didn’t want the old cabinets anymore, so they were free. Some people nowadays like to call this “repurposing” or “recycling” but we’ve always just called making do and being smart. Remember that song “I was country, when country wasn’t cool”? We were cheap, before they had a billion dollar industry devoted to touting the values of being cheap.
All I had to do was buy a piece of formica to go on the countertop that matches the rest of my counters. I also bought some new drawer pulls and cabinet handles but we haven’t got around to putting those in yet. The display cabinets originally had doors but I wanted them open, so we just took them off and painted in the holes! I ended up wtih a LOT more kitchen space.
Normally, this is where my coffee station is, which is wonderful. In the morning, when I’m cooking, people can come fix coffee without ever having to enter my workspace . whenever I have photo shoots, I can just move the coffee fixin’s to another counter and set this up all pretty like!
Before we added the cabinets, I used some cubbies in that corner to store nd display Pyrex. I got those on sale for about $30 each at Lowe’s.
Reader Question: Is that a dinette set I see in the photo? I’d love to know the history of it! - Well you see, I wanted more space in my kitchen. Adding onto the house is not an affordable option but I had this big old white sunroom we never used other than to walk through it to go to the back door. It wouldn’t do for a formal dining room (not that I’m formal, or care to be), but I thought it would lend itself just fine to a 50′s style diner! I ordered diner style furnture from a restaurant supply store and it ended up costing me far less than a dining room suite would have cost.
I got a booth, two four-top tables, one 2-top table, and seven chairs in addtion to the booth seating. We LOVE our diner and usually eat supper in our booth each night. I keep the two top in the kitchen for a little breakfast/homework table for the kids. For more photos of my diner and some of the fun signs I have around it, click here to visit a special post I did on it.
P.S. If you are seeing this photo, please know that I do not have a restaurant A lot of people hear me talk about my diner and email me wanting to know the address and what my hours are. I’m always honored that someone would want to go out of their way to eat my cooking, but I’m juggling about all I can manage as it is so I’m doing good to feed my own family
Reader Question: I always wonder what a person’s refrigerator looks like inside if they cook a lot. Does this make me a bad person for being so nosey?? I may be hoping it is as unorganized as mine lol! I think this makes you human and you hoping that others may be as unorganized as you is a natural product of folks on tv lying like a rug about how organized they are. Pfft. It’s like those Mama’s that pretend their children are always angels. In trying to make themselves look like perfect mothers, they end up doing a disservice to women everywhere. Rest assured, my fridge is so unorganized – I don’t think I’ll ever post a photo
Reader Question: Could you tell me about the bowls with the tulip design my aunt left me the set and I’d love to know some history. Thanks. Sure can! Those are made by Fire King and the design of the bowl is called “Splash Proof” because they are very deep.
Fire King came out with all sorts of gorgeous and colorful patterns in these bowls but the tulip pattern has ended up being the most sought after. I’ve seen a complete set of bowls going for over $200 and the grease jar alone can easily sell for that much. If you keep an eye out, though, you can get the bowl set for well under $100 and the grease jar for about $75 (if you’re very, very lucky).
Be careful when shopping, as there are many reprodutions of this pattern out there. Reproductions of this one are usually easy to spot, though. Rather than be milk glass, which you can see light through, they are solid. If you’ll look at the picture below, the salt and pepper shakers are reproductions and the rest is authentic. Pictured with them is a Fire king Tulip grease jar. This was part of an original range set which would have contained a grease jar as well as the salt and pepper shakers. An intact grease jar is difficult to find and usually very expensive when you do, especially with the lid. I suggest look for the items separately, as the lids of most patterns of this were all white and it would be easier (and most likely cheaper) to find them on their own and then make your set when you do. This pattern was most likely made in the forties and fifties. Read below the next photo for more information on Fire King…
A great deal of Fire King was given away as promotional items. Most of my Jadeite dishes were giveaways at gas stations when you filled up your tank. Fire King was also given away in food products such as bags of flower.
Reader Question: Where did you get that scale? Do you use it? Is there any history behind it? Well, I got that at Cracker Barrel a few years back. It’s definitely not an antique but I thought it was cute! It’s got a john deere tractor on it and, being a Farmall gal myself, I thought a little splash of John Deere green would just lend balance to the place AND I do love my Cracker Barrel. My friend, Jyl, was traveling with me for about a week during my book tour in 2010 and she ended up with all of these photos of us eating at Cracker Barrel on her facebook page. Finally she said “If you’re traveling with Christy, she’ll ask you where you want to go eat lunch, but you just need to know that you’ll eventually end up eating at Cracker Barrel.” heehee.
Reader Question: Where did you get your curtains? I love them!
Thank you! My Mama made those for me out of a Michael Miller Fabric called “Fifties Kitchen” she also made me a bag holder that I just love and she makes those to sell so if anyone wants one give me a holler. She puts a great deal of time into them and one exactly like mine is $25, but she also makes them to match different kitchens. But it’s made by Mama and it has a little apron on that covers up the tube that holds the bag as well as three little buttons along the top of the apron.
Note: My curtain shot looks yellow-y but the bag holder shows the actual color of the fabric.
Reader Question: I would love an upclose photo of your range … so many fabulous things come out of it that it must have a halo! ~giggles~ You are so sweet! Here is how I chose this oven: It came with the house. Someone asked me once what kind of oven I had and I told them I had no idea, but it was black and stainless and it worked. I use an electric range, have never had gas in anyplace I lived, and it has a smooth glass cooktop and YES I do use cast iron on top of my stove. As long as your cast iron pan is flat on the bottom, it’s just fine.
Here is my little stove. I’d love to have a pretty red one or one of those gorgeous vintage ones – but I can’t bring myself to spend that kind of money when this one works just fine. If I ever do, I’ll give this stove to someone who could use it, and then I wouldn’t feel so bad about buying a new one. I can’t see that happening until I move to my next house, in a city that will allow me to have chickens
Reader Question: Is there a Pyrex bowl that is never allowed to be used by anyone? Do you have a favorite? I DO have a favorite! It’s actually not even pyrex, but Hazel Atlas. It is this windmill milk glass bowl set. I’ve always loved them and had searched for a very long time to try to find a set like my Mother’s. About a year ago, I was at her house and talking about them. I mentioned where all and how long I’d searched for a set like hers and that I’d come up empty handed so I wanted her to be on the lookout too. When I got ready to go, she handed me a bag. She’d taken her bowls out of the cabinet, wrapped them up, and put them in a bag for me to take home. “Here, I want you to just go ahead and have them and enjoy them now while I’m still alive to see it.”
As you can imagine, they are one of my most prized kitchen possessions, right up there with Mama’s stainless steel and copper rolling pin that my great grandmother bought her with green stamps when Mama was thirteen. Even as precious as they are to me, though, I still use them whenever I want. The only think in my kithen that doesn’t get used is the one Big Top Peanut Butter glass that still has the original sticker on it.
Reader Question: How about a picture of how the shelf over the window looks now? I’m a barefoot girl, too. I even go out sometimes in the winter to the mailbox with bare feet. Here ya go! It has evolved a lot over the past few years and I’m always taking things down and putting more things up there. I try to keep it practical and usually have some cooking ingredients up there, too, which DO end up getting replaced because I use them. I really never wear shoes unless I’m going somewhere.
Well, here is the left side. A vintage Pyrex coffee pot made as a promotional item for Maxwell House, some veggies that I will eventually eat (except for the Rutabagas, I have never had one in my life but the can was pretty), a special chair that my Grandaddy made for me before he passed away, a Shoney’s big boy bank, some baking soda….
Random nicknacks, a little See Rock city birdhouse ornament, a tiny bottle of ALAGA syrup, cast iron amish people, syrup from Cracker Barrel, jadeite rooster, old fashioned tooth fixadent bottle, peppers in sauce, antique coffee mill…
Some evaporated milk (I’m forever using this and having to put more up there), a recipe box filled with handwritten recipes that a reader gave me when their family member passed away, Prince Albert in a can (Oh the phone calls we could make!), and jars of popcorn and white beans.
Note: All groceries on these shelves get used. It is display space but also a good spot to stick mason jars once I fill them to get them out of the way. You usually see a lot more mason jars up here than I have right now.
It didn’t end up in these photos but I also have a Tobasco Bottle filled with sand from Iraq that a soldier sent me when I was 17. I used to address letters to “Any Servicemember” for the folks who didn’t get mail and ended up writing back and forth with several of them. One person asked if there was anything they could send me and I asked for some sand from there. I found out later that this was technically illegal (because some people don’t have any skillset other than thinking up ridiculous laws) but I’m so glad he sent it because I’ve had that bottle in a special place wherever I’ve lived for over two decades now.
Reader Question: Where did you get your Flour and Sugar Canisters? I actually made those. I got the canisters at Target and Wal Mart and then spraypainted the lids candy apple red with Krylon. I designed the lettering and my father in law cut it out of red vinyl for me. I used to sell sets of the canister words in the Southern Plate store back before I realized that I’m better at writing and giving recipes away than I am at selling things . After a while, the paint chips off the lids a bit, which I think gives it an even more authentic feel. I modeled them after my favorite Tom’s Jar.
Reader Question: What is that little house cookie jar you have? This is a Nestle Toll House cookie jar. I think they came up with them in the eighties and you had to send in for them. Lo and behold they’ve become quite the collector’s item. My mother got one when they first came out and she originally paid a good bit for hers. They generally sell for about $50 now but Mama and I picked this one up at an antique mall in Tennessee for $15.00.
I know you think I have a lot of Pyrex at this point..but you haven’t seen the half of it!
this is a somewhat cluttered photo of more pyrex…
Here is a photo with a little Pyrex peeking in that was in Taste of The South Magazine…
and there is still more in my guest room, sunroom, living room (I have a sideboard in there), and some of it is usually in different parts of the country as well. I just got five boxes worth back from a photoshoot in Savannah for my next book – I haven’t even opened them yet because while the pieces were away having their picture taken,their spots got filled in with other pieces!
And THEN I found out about JAJ or Crown Pyrex…. As it turns out, when Pyrex was all the rage in the US, a company known as JAJ or Crown got rights to make it in the UK. They then proceeded to make bowls and dishes out of the same material, but with completely different designs, shapes, and sizes!!!! Some of the designs resemble those made in the US but some of drastically different, and utterly beautiful.
I’m. Just. Not. Going. To. Think. About. Those.
Truly… I can’t…
But if anyone wants to go on a field trip to the United Kingdom to hunt Pyrex, save me a seat