Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Allure of Texas Ware Melmac : an Ira Mency Reflection on Plastics Manufacturing Company thanks to Google Earth

The Allure of Texas Ware Melmac.....

Little Ira Mency mixing cookie dough with her mother circa 1979.

Yep, that's a rare photo of my childhood, with a putrid 60ish kitchen.  However, the focus here is the spatter ware Texas Ware "garbage bowl." In 1979 my very young Italian mother was trying to teach me how to cook some type of bread .  Far be it for me to actually learn (I ended up marrying a chef!).  In a time before "health department guidelines" my best memory is squishing the dough in between my fingers and mushing it in the several sizes of Texas Ware mottled melamine bowls.  (Perhaps this fueled my desire to eventually become an artist, I don't know.)  Texas Ware, (and Dallas Ware) melamine is found everywhere still to this day, from the second hand shops to the estate sales.  

A photo from  a Texas Ware "garbage bowl for sale" courtesy of  SusanAntique on Etsy.

Enter the "garbage bowl" as donned by Rachael Ray.  A collector of original Texas Ware melmac herself, she released her own line of made-in-china mixing bowls.  Not only do these bowl serve as use in the kitchen for picking up your snippets and peels and eggshells but ironically were originally called "garbage" or "end of day" by the factory and employees themselves.  Quite possibly because they incorporated leftover "pucks of melamine" or "powders" that were leftover from other jobs or wouldn't be used.  Frequently the most devine in design comes by accidentally on purpose.  Ray's replica's blew out of stores went to back order, like this one, sold out at QVC:

The "fake" Texas Ware lookalike as released by Rachael Ray, on QVC, still pretty in design.

Back to PMC (Plastics Manufacturing Company) of Dallas.  This huge conglomerate manufactured Texas Ware and original Dallas Ware* (*now manufactured by Carlisle Company) ranging from packaged dinnerware sets to cafeteria trays was last located at 2700 S Westmoreland Rd in Dallas, TX 75233, (below)  Images courtesy of Google/Driving Directions.  CLICK HERE TO USE THIS TOOL.

Let's zoom in to what I think is Texas Ware, corner of Hansboro and Westmoreland reveals a 2700 block sign:  (Courtesy of :  GOOGLE MAPS )

This image from Google Earth: Corner of Westmoreland and Hansboro Street.

 

Sneak around back and notice what looks like a "grain feed".  
Was this for melamine pellets?

I interviewed someone (Paul Rothstein) for my Russel Wright research as he was owner of a Canadian Plastics Company, and he told me that Texas Ware was THE BIG BOY of melamine.  He told me, "They had even found a way to manufacture their own melamine powders, making their production costs go down.  Additionally they had a "seconds" thrift store across from them, where they sold the factory imperfections or unsold stock. "  From the view above, (Hansboro Road) you can walk down a little further thanks to GOOGLE EARTH and see what appears to be smokestacks in the distance which would be located further up on Westmoreland.  Everything I find says they started in 1946.

Ariel View HERE of corner of Westmoreland and Glenfield.  
Time to make the plastics?


I also went to the end of the large conglomerate on Westmoreland, and went down Glenfield,

Now, granted, I don't know if that is or was Texas Ware, but in my dreams it the below update says so... and I certainly would appreciate any information you have.  Granted, I was really confused because earlier on there was a different address from m.  Enter Everyday Art Quarterly from 1946, and through the mid fifties, just as y research this ad from Life Magazine 1956 gave an address of 825 Trunk Avenue in Dallas Texas.  Could this have been just a sales office, or possibly the headquarters prior to the Westmorland address? Here's an ariel view of the place as it stands now leaves it hard to tell.    A quick search of the Dallas Historical Society gave me no information, oddly. 

 

Update: According to the reader below, his comments give us a great story of when he worked at Texas Ware. 

He says: 

 

In about 1967, when I was in high school, I had a summer job at Plastics Manufacturing Company. The pictures you have are in fact the plant where I worked.

As I recall, the dry plastic pellets would be used to fill a small mould which would be compressed into a "brick", maybe about 2" square by 1 1/2" thick. These would be weighed on an over/under scale to check them for proper weight. The bricks would be stacked in containers and sent to the moulding department.

Here, there were large, heated presses. When the press would open, you would place a brick in the center of the plate mould and the hot press would close and mould the plate. When it opened, if the plate was to have a design, the operator would place what looked like a piece of wax paper with the design on it on the plate and the press would close again and melt it into the surface of the plate. From here, the plate would get the flash ground off the edges, inspected and packed.

I've always been fascinated by manufacturing processes so this was very interesting to me. Although this was only a summer job, I can't say it was a great experience. The air was thick with plastic dust and at night I would go home with nose bleeds. I never saw anyone with a respirator. Thank goodness there is no way you could run a plant today with these conditions. I always wondered if the plant was shut down because of environmental concerns. The plant is pretty much in the middle of a residential area and has been vacant since PMC left it.

Thank you whoever you are, I wish you would contact me so I can interview you.

Unconfirmed Rumor:  Someone told me that Texas Ware was sold to Worthington Plastics in 1966era but I have been unable to confirm that information when in fact there is evidence that Texas Ware was still being produced thru the 70's....so I am wondering was this a situation where Worthtington secretly bought them out (as many companies do to keep afloat) and kept the Plastics Manufacturing Name and the Texas Ware lines and no one knew?

Trunk Avenue Location If you want to navigate this map 

yourself, GO HERE, courtesy of Google Maps!

COOL TEXAS WARE LINKS: 

 

  • Here is an article about Texas Ware that goes onto give excerpts of Texas Ware memories (Not sure if I believe that the broken dishes were busted up and remolded -- as I thought thermoset plastics like "melamine" cannot done that, but who am I to say.  Sure would like to see one of those plastic chunk bowls!

  • Here is a great article on How to Identify your Texas Ware...  by Tera Crain.  Though she does warn of Dallas Ware being made by Carlisle Company now, I want to reiterate that originally it was made by PMC.  So, do check out your backstamps to see if yours is "authentic PMC!"

Time for shopping!  Enjoy!


Vintage Texasware ORANGE cof...
$12.40

Retro Texas Ware Melmac Conf...
$40.00

Peachy Picnic Texas Ware Set...
$28.00

ONE Texas Ware Stacking Lunc...
$7.00

Texas Ware Fork and Spoon Pa...
$15.00

8 Texas Ware Dessert Bowls
$7.95

Vintage Texas Ware nesting b...
$15.00

Vintage Texas Ware Confetti ...
$20.00

Set of 10 Texas Ware PMC Tea...
$40.00

Vintage Texasware Melmac Dis...
$12.00

Rare Pink Texas Ware bowl se...
$22.00

1954 Print Ad Texas Ware Dis...
$10.00

Texas Ware Serving Bowl Set ...
$24.00

2 Melmac Texas Ware Bowls - ...
$8.00

Vintage Green Confetti Bowl ...
$39.95
Increase Page Rank

6 comments:

  1. Love your Texas Ware! And you are adorable in that picture :)
    Thank you for featuring my plates.
    ByTheWayside.etsy.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great Site. Keep working on it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hadn't thought about Texas Ware in a long time. In about 1967, when I was in high school, I had a summer job at Plastics Manufacturing Company. The pictures you have are in fact the plant where I worked.

    As I recall, the dry plastic pellets would be used to fill a small mould which would be compressed into a "brick", maybe about 2" square by 1 1/2" thick. These would be weighed on an over/under scale to check them for proper weight. The bricks would be stacked in containers and sent to the moulding department.

    Here, there were large, heated presses. When the press would open, you would place a brick in the center of the plate mould and the hot press would close and mould the plate. When it opened, if the plate was to have a design, the operator would place what looked like a piece of wax paper with the design on it on the plate and the press would close again and melt it into the surface of the plate. From here, the plate would get the flash ground off the edges, inspected and packed.

    I've always been fascinated by manufacturing processes so this was very interesting to me. Although this was only a summer job, I can't say it was a great experience. The air was thick with plastic dust and at night I would go home with nose bleeds. I never saw anyone with a respirator. Thank goodness there is no way you could run a plant today with these conditions. I always wondered if the plant was shut down because of environmental concerns. The plant is pretty much in the middle of a residential area and has been vacant since PMC left it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great comments and story. My grandfather started PMC in the late forties after manufacturing B17 bubbles during the war. He made tabletops for a while, then switched to dinnerware. My dad went to work and was responsible for several of the PMC innovations that no other company could do.

    It was not sold until the late eighties after my dad passed in 1983. It was sold to a company that ultimately sold off the names to other companies, such as Carlisle.

    Dad took a bunch of scraps and made the first speckled bowl. Brought it home and mother said it has hideous. Still have some at home.

    I actually started the "Small Fry Originals" that elementary school kids used when as a child, I wanted a set of plates with a hand-drawn tiger on them. We developed the technique to draw on a foil and then imprint it onto a plate.

    I still have a ton of Texas Ware, Dallas Ware, and a bunch of stuff that never made it to market - test marketing. I eat off of it daily.

    Thanks for the memories!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am trying to locate Texas-ware which was two colored: bottom-brown, top-aqua/turquoise. I have some dessert plates and just love them...would love to find more of this two toned colored ware, but can't locate any in my searches. Have you heard of the two-toned dish ware?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I remember shopping at an outlet store on Josey Lane at Valley View Lane in Farmer's Branch during the late 70's / early 80's that was fantastic. Not only Texas Ware but Dallas Ware and tons of it. If they were "seconds" they wasn't much wrong with them. I shopped that store often and still use all of the items I bought back then. Wish I'd've bought more. I also wish it would go back into production since I can't think of a better, more practical product line.

    ReplyDelete