This time of year there are plenty of excuses to pull out grandma's good china. Whether you're hosting an Easter brunch, wedding shower or celebrating the arrival of a new baby, a pot of Earl Grey certainly adds to the menu. Of course a complete tea set looks elegant, but co-ordinating mismatched pieces can add a bit of eclectic panache to your spread. I like the idea of creating your own tea set using oddball pieces you've inherited, discovered at flea markets or even bought new.
This teapot I picked up at a local vintage shop might not have belonged to my grandma, but it's a nod to her sensibilities: When I was a kid, she always had little pots of violets, just like the ones depicted on its front. I knew by getting a few new pieces (and giving them a splash of paint), I could put the pot back to good use as part of a full set – with a modern twist.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
Non-toxic latex paint
Small craft paintbrush
Shallow plastic container with a lid (or a plastic bag)
Non-toxic topcoat spray paint
Begin by deciding on the pieces that you'd like to use to create your tea set. When choosing the creamer and sugar bowl, take into consideration their sizes, colours and design relative to the teapot. I chose similarly proportioned and daintily designed ones in plain white so they would easily match up.
Next select a shade of paint that plays off the print on your teapot. Choose a non-toxic version that's safe to use near food. (Tip: If the design carries up to the lid of your teapot, take it into the craft store with you, to help you make a good colour match.) You can also get creative and mix your own colour, blending two or three different shades to get just the right hue.
Before you paint, wash the china in warm soapy water and dry thoroughly. Cut off small pieces of painter's tape to create the guidelines around the handles and lid. Overlap the pieces of tape slightly as you apply them, using your fingernail to push the edges down firmly. This will keep paint from bleeding underneath and create a clean line. Squeeze out the equivalent of about two teaspoons of paint into a plastic container. If you're mixing colours, add each one a little at a time, stirring with your paintbrush or a small wooden skewer, until you get your desired shade.
Using your paintbrush, apply two or three coats of paint, allowing to air dry for about an hour in between. (Wrap the paint container in a plastic bag or cover with a lid during drying times.) When the final coat of paint is thoroughly dry to the touch, carefully remove the tape. Next spray each piece with a topcoat.