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LA MESA -- Fiesta is a line of ceramic dinnerware glazed in differing solid colors manufactured and marketed by the Homer Laughlin China Company of Newell, West Virginia.
The original shapes, glazes and concept of combining various colors were designed by the company's art director Frederick Hurten Rhead in the 1930s. The dinnerware was introduced for retail sales to great success in 1936. Homer Laughlin withdrew Fiesta from production in 1973 in response to declining sales before reintroducing the line in 1985. Some of the original shapes were redesigned and other new shapes were designed as part of the 1985 reintroduction by Jonathan O. Parry, who became the company art director in 1984.
As a line of open-stock dinnerware, Fiesta allows buyers to select by the piece, rather than requiring the purchase of entire sets. Notably, buyers can mix and match from the color range. According to David Conley, the company's director of retail sales and marketing, Fiesta's current colors derive from home decor and fashion trends. According to the Smithsonian Institution Press, Fiesta's appeal lies in its bright colors, modern design, and affordability.
It has been found that past glazes have been radioactive or contained lead glazes, but these have been discontinued.
The name of this line of dinnerware has always been simply Fiesta, despite being informally referred to by customers as Fiesta Ware.
Over the years, Fiestaware has become collectible due in part to the factory discontinuing colors and shapes. Some colors, i. e. chocolate, juniper and rose, were discontinued due to lack on demand while other colors, i.e. lilac, sapphire and marigold were produce for a short period purposely to insight collect ability and grow the secondary market.
Fiestaware is the most popular casual dinnerware in the United States. What makes it so popular. Color, STYLING AND QUALITY. It is a enigma even to the past president of the Homer Laughlin China Company Mr. Joe Wells III. During a 2002 televised interview Mr. Wells expressed his dismay and confusion to a questions asking "Why is Fiestaware so collectible?" What makes people go crazy over a piece of clay glazed in, sometimes, a garish color. What makes people collect hundreds and hundreds pieces of dinnerware and display them so proudly in kitchen cabinets curios. Mr. Wells exclaims with a slight smile "I have no damn Idea, its beyond me!"
I personally feel its the history. Fiestaware has been around since the 1930's. We remember it on our aunts and our grandmother's dinette. It's the excitement of finding a discontinued color or shape at the local flea market or thrift store for pennies on the dollars. It's finding the missing piece, after years of searching, that completes your five piece place setting. It's discovering the green candle sticks you have are actually Medium Green and worth a small fortune. It's the new color coming out in the spring. IT DOES NOT STOP!. This is why collectors, including myself, love Fiestaware. It is also the reason why I sell it at "What A Dish!" Dinnerware They'll About. Because I, we, love it. It's that simple. It's the only dinnerware that appreciates in value and it never goes out of style-it gets better. Come in to "What A Dish!" and check it out. Hope to see you soon.
Frank Dittmer recently opened his new store "What A Dish!" on La Mesa Boulevard in the Village. The store is located just west of the trolley tracks.