Splatterware Is Making a Comeback—Here Are 10 Modern Pieces That Will Fit Right Into Your Collection
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.
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
- Golden Rabbit Enamel Dinnerware, Set of 4
- Creative Co-Op Enamel Splatterware Bowls, Set of 5
- Zak Designs Confetti 12-Piece Dinner Plate, Salad Plate and Bowl Set in Primrose
- Golden Rabbit Ramekins in Taupe Swirl Pattern, Set of 4
- West Elm Marble/Splatter Tumbler, Set of 4
- Williams Sonoma Splatter Ceramic Italian Hand-Glazed Cereal Bowls, Set of 4
- Brayden Studio Umer Freckles 16 Piece Dinnerware Set, Service for 4
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.