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Cup-and-Saucer Compote

Photography: Minh + Wass

Source: Martha Stewart Living, June 2001


This trio of compotes arose from an assortment of solitary cups and saucers, stacked and firmly affixed with soft wax or adhesive putty. Such lone survivors of tea services abound at tag sales and antiques shops. Pretty as they may be, you've probably passed them up, knowing there was little chance of completing a set. But in this new role, mixing patterns is not a problem. Better yet, most chips, crazing, and stains will be hidden when the cup is inverted.

Just about any cup and saucer can be combined, but there are a few guidelines for selection. Cups without handles -- a form common until the late 1800s -- have the cleanest lines. Also, consider the scale of possible mates: A tiny saucer may look too small atop a tall cup. It's usually best to match materials (e.g., porcelain with porcelain, not ironstone), but feel free to coordinate pieces by color.


  • Cup

  • Saucer

  • Soft wax or adhesive putty


  1. Wash both pieces in warm water using a liquid dish detergent. Dry.

  2. Roll eight to ten 3/16- inch balls of soft wax or adhesive putty. Place around the base of upturned cup. Center saucer; press firmly into the wax.

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