martha collection splatterware
Credit: Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Splatterware Is Making a Comeback—Here Are 10 Modern Pieces That Will Fit Right Into Your Collection

This pattern has been a staple in traditional kitchens for decades, but it originated in China nearly 2,000 years ago.
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Nearly 50 years after gaining mainstream popularity in 1970s kitchens, splatterware is back in a big way, thanks to the pattern's kitschy charm. Splatterware bowls, plates, and other dinnerware are instantly recognizable, thanks to their abundant colorful specks that dot ceramic or enamel.

Though the splatterware of yesteryear was typically only manufactured in shades of blue, today's brands now design pieces in numerous colorways while still honoring the unique, vintage aesthetic. "I think splatterware's popularity is based on one simple concept," says Lori Verderame, Ph.D, an antiques appraiser and author. "It demonstrates the union of a traditional ceramic form with a modern, dynamic, one-of-a-kind design."

The Early History of Splatterware

Also known as spatterware, splatterware originated 2,000 years ago with the production of stoneware pottery in China, Verderame says. In the 18th century, artisans in the United Kingdom started producing their own stoneware pottery with the splatter pattern, explains Leah Ashley, a vintage expert and host of Vintage Style/Modern Life. While the splatterware available on today's market often uses a different technique—more on that later—these early iterations were created when splattered colors of cobalt blue oxide were mixed with liquified clay, then blown through a pipe onto a piece of pottery, Verderame explains.

Splatterware first made its way over to America—particularly the East Coast—in the 1720s, according to Verderame. Production was "borne out of the necessity for inexpensive household goods," she says. It wasn't until later centuries that these pieces would be modernized and become a trendy staple in American kitchens for their functionality and charm.

1970s Popularity

Splatterware was developed for stoneware pottery, but when a company adapted the technique for enamelware in 1977, the pattern's popularity skyrocketed. CGS International, now called Crow Canyon Home, originated the splatter pattern on enamel pieces, says Cara Barde, the owner president of the company. "The enamel is splattered onto the item with a brush and then fired on in a kiln," says Barde. "It was a modern twist on the swirl-like pattern that was popular with mid-century French enamelware." 

Melding the unique speckled design of splatterware with the shatter-proof properties of enamelware made for a winning combination, Ashley explains: "You can't really beat the utilitarian aspects of dishware that doesn't chip—and it's the fun patterns and colors that make splatterware a tableside classic." 

Back in Vogue

Crow Canyon Home has been a purveyor of splatterware since it originated the enamel version over 40 years ago. While the pieces remained popular throughout the South and Midwest up until the present, "I would say [the pattern] is at its most popular now—all around the world," says Barde. Over the last five to seven years, Barde has noticed an increase in new splatter enamelware products on the market. And for her company, orders from national and international retailers, restaurants, and hotels—that want to sell or use their pieces—have increased tenfold.

Splatterware's timeless pattern has long made the product a collector's item, and Barde thinks that nostalgia and vintage charm is driving its current resurgence on the market. "Splatter enamelware is seen as classic 'Americana' and appeals to all sorts of tastes," Barde says. "We have older, traditional customers and young, hipster customers. Very few products have such a diverse fan base." Most importantly, Barde adds, using this pattern is an easy way to create a joyful table.

The Best Modern Splatterware Pieces to Shop Now

To help you take advantage of this here-to-stay pattern, we rounded up some of the best new splatterware iterations available now, with help from our experts.

splatterware rimmed bowl
Credit: Courtesy of Bennington Potters

Bennington Potters Rimmed Serving Bowl

from $54, benningtonpotters.com

According to Verderame, recent splatterware trends have popularized newer colorways, but the traditional blue pattern is still her go-to. "My favorite splatterware is by Bennington Potters, and I'll take their blue splatterware bowl over any other color," she says.

This stoneware bowl is a great choice for serving pasta or salad, and it's also safe to use in the microwave, oven, and dishwasher.

enamel splatterware dinner plates
Credit: Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Golden Rabbit Enamel Dinnerware, Set of 4

$98, martha.com

Martha's light blue enamel splatterware dinner plates are a contemporary spin on the traditional color pattern. The dishes are hand-dipped before they're fired in a kiln, which means that each piece has natural variations.

As Laurice Constantine, the founder of digital furnishing marketplace Casadar, says, splatterware's popularity relates to our desire "for distinctive, handmade goods over mass-produced commodities"—something that Martha's collection certainly embodies.

splatterware pitcher
Credit: Courtesy of Crow Canyon

Crow Canyon Home Splatter Large Pitcher

$48, crowcanyonhome.com

Splatterware isn't a pattern simply reserved for dinnerware—you'll find plenty of speckled serving pieces, too. This antique-inspired enamelware pitcher is a beautiful vessel for iced tea and other refreshing summer beverages, but Barde likes to use it as a colorful vase for fresh flowers. The pitcher is available in the traditional blue splatter, as well as yellow, black, gray, red, and turquoise.

splatterware bowl set
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Creative Co-Op Enamel Splatterware Bowls, Set of 5

$64, amazon.com

Constantine recommends these versatile bowls, which can be used for both cooking and serving a meal. With five different sizes, this set makes it easy to prepare complex recipes—and, if you purchase every one, you'll find that they nest beautifully.

confetti dinner plate
Credit: Courtesy of Target

Zak Designs Confetti 12-Piece Dinner Plate, Salad Plate and Bowl Set in Primrose

$49.99, target.com

Verderame finds that multi-color splatterware is one of the contemporary iterations gaining popularity over traditional blue pieces. This 12-piece set by Zak Designs features rainbow splatter on top of a pale pink base, and the joyful, vibrant appearance of confetti. The recycled melamine collection is both shatterproof and eco-friendly, so you can host sustainable dinner parties inside and out.

splatterware bowl
Credit: Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart Enamel Serving Basin

$48, martha.com

Create a striking tablescape by serving salads, pastas, and various sides in our founder's bright blue splatter serving bowls. Able to hold up to 4 quarts, this functional piece makes it easy to entertain numerous dinner guests—plus, it's dishwasher safe.

splatterware ramekins
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Golden Rabbit Ramekins in Taupe Swirl Pattern, Set of 4

$31.99, amazon.com

Brown splatterware designs are some of the most popular on the current market, Verderame says, and these taupe 4 oz. ramekins play off that trend. Their colorful vintage pattern will bring levity and style to your next culinary adventure.

splatterware tumbler
Credit: Courtesy of west elm

West Elm Marble/Splatter Tumbler, Set of 4

$48, westelm.com

Enamel splatterware is especially popular at campsites, since you don't have to worry about breaking a glass while roughing it outdoors, Ashley says. This durable drinkware is incredibly useful while camping, and the hand-splashed design ensures that you can still entertain in style—even with limited resources in nature.

splatter ceramic cereal bowls
Credit: Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

Williams Sonoma Splatter Ceramic Italian Hand-Glazed Cereal Bowls, Set of 4

$71.99, williams-sonoma.com

These hand-glazed and hand-decorated earthenware cereal bowls were made in Italy. Work them onto a tablescape with solid-color plates for a dynamic touch to your place settings.

freckles dinnerware set
Credit: Courtesy of Wayfair

Brayden Studio Umer Freckles 16 Piece Dinnerware Set, Service for 4

$103, wayfair.com

Green is a shade that works year round—so why not stock up on a full splatterware collection that you'll pull out season after season? We could see these cheerful pieces on a holiday or springtime tablescape; like the splatterware pattern itself, this set's versatility is endless.