Welcome to Melmac Central turned six years old in December 2016! Wish us happy birthday by sharing our blog! Thanks for your patience as we clean the site for quality and remove old links.

Monday, November 28, 2016

EMSA Emsa German Plastic HomeStyleCollect

Emsa German Plastic Coasters found on Etsy
German Emsa Coaster set from Home Style Collect here.

EMSA Everywhere!

Just look at these fine gems I found at retro shop Home Style Collect on Etsy. This shop is run by Mark van der Werf from Rotterdam, The Netherlands. In it you will find mid century modern items of all kinds and plastic just waiting to be had.  Today I found a stash of Emsa German products are hidden in this shop, and wanted to expose it and tell you more about this plastic ware!

Emsa Vintage Party Bowl German Plastic by homestylecollect
Only $13.69 German Emsa Bowl for Candy @homestylecollect

Emsa German plastic has been quite hard for me to find, possibly because most of these wares were used overseas. The company was founded in 1949 by Franz Wulf. According to Wikipedia, the Company went by Franz Wulf & Company Plasticwarenfabrik and was located in Greven, Germany. They are still operational today!
Emsa Egg Cups, these found on Etsy at HomeStyleCollect
These egg cups part of a set (below) at HomeStyleCollect note the adorable feet 

Egg cups were quite popular throughout Europe and vintage examples can still be found today.  Some of Emsa's egg cups were stout, adorable and footed making them more on the fancy side.  Due to their functionality and lightweight it is totally conceivable that that some of these ended up shipped to the States as holiday gifts as the cost was low for such light plastic items.  Perhaps this is why these, as well as spoon rests or drip catchers are easily found here (more so than other items).

Emsa Kitchen Set
Emsa Kitchen Set $35.59 at Home Style Collect

It is said that Plasticwarenfabrik's first item was a butterfly drip catcher. I am quite sure this can still be found but mistaken as a spoon rest.  If I happen across one, I'll be sure to post it.  In the 1970's patents were applied by Franz Breitenbach for a Cat, Great Horned Owl and Monkey Figurine.     Although not melmac or melamine, this was certainly a great plastic manufacturer that should be noted.

Emsa Landhaus Flower Box Courtesy of Emsa.com
Emsa.com  "Landhaus" Flowerbox Picket Fence

Today Emsa makes everything from kitchenwares to flower boxes. My favorite is this called Landhaus, which is a picket fence style available in hot pink, blue or green. They also made bird feeders to match. The whole Landhaus line is for the home and is quite stunning and chic.

As for Home Style Collect, they have much vintage plastic in stock, not just Emsa. You'll find a big allotment from 1940s to 1970s here, and decorations for your entire home.  Here are a few of my favorite items!

Braun Vintage Hairdryer
1972 Vintage Braun hairdryer $29.02!

HomeStyleCollect tells us the hairdryer above was fashioned by Reinhold Weiss, for Braun. A similar style was made in the USA but I am not certain if it was the same designer or a copy, I actually use one!  Below, a date changer made in the UK fashioned of plastic for the Dutch is a registered design and in modern colors!

Plastic Date Changer is $12.59 on etsy

Melamine Attack!  Who did this great atomic design (below) in red? Surely some famous designer!  The peanut bowl is covered as so no dust or dirt goes in it, and the members of the card game or guests at your cookout function will each have their own individual bowl.  A stunning piece of history!

Atomic Red Bowl Set Vintage by HomeStyleCollect
Mystery Atomic Bowl Melamine Melmac by Home Style Collect $25.74 here.

Vintage Plastic thermos
Vintage Plastic Thermos at Home Style Collect $19.17

The Safari 600 above thermos was made in Italy ! Simply stunning retro design and not to mention still fully functional!

HomeStyleCollect has a brick and mortar store in the Netherlands and ships worldwide.  Check them out at:


Monday, October 31, 2016

The Making of the Texasware Mottled Melmac Mixing Bowl

Melmac Mixing Bowls from Etsy Shop MUSEUMofKITSC

Speckled Texasware Mixing Bowls from Etsy Shop Museum of Kitsch

Speckled and Spattered the Texasware Bowl Comes to Life

Thanks to this blog and my articles on Melmac on the web, I have heard from readers all over the world, and I have been fortunate enough to hear from the grandchildren of the owner of Plastics Manufacturing Company, who produced Texasware melamine dinnerware among other plastics.  "Gary Joy's" grandfather started the company, but dad also worked there, up until he passed in 1983.  The company was since sold but technically heir to the original owners, so pardon the reference.

"My grandfather started Plastics Mfg. Co. in Dallas in the late 40s - my father ran the company until his death in 1983. For many years it was the largest manufacturer of melamine dinnerware in the world, as well as the only plastic dinnerware sold at Neiman-Marcus! I worked in the outlet store while in college in the early 70s - Gary Joy "

In simple terms, back in the heydey, PMC was the BIG BOY of dish production. Smaller molders would buy melamine molding powders or melmac formula powders to mold plastic dishes; but not PMC! They were making their own powders and dishes. In technical terms, they were producing laminating paper, laminating resins, melamine moulding compounds, urea molding compound and 135 resin  of production to name a few circa 1979.

I will simply state that this simple story is a great example of America's industrialism and a family run business. Thank you so much for reaching out to me, my readers will love this story.

Boeing XB-17 (Model 299) nose turret with gun
Pic: By U.S. Air Force [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Gary Joy wrote that it was Granddad who started PMC in the late 1940's .  He had been manufacturing B17 bubbles during the war. We know that WW2 Dated 1939-1945 and in case you are wondering, this would be the gigantic Boeing B17 airplane (see aboved.

When Granddad switched to making tabletops for awhile, and finally mainstreamed into dinnerware, I wonder if perhaps this move would be the most profitable one at the time? Perhaps really, the most historical decision he ever made.   Every time I look at a Texasware dish now, I will wonder what possessed a man who was molding aircraft parts and laminated tables to dabble in the dishes?

The Making of the Texasware Mottled Mixing Bowl

When her father went to work for the Company, he was an innovator and she explains, "He did things other companies could not do. Dad took a bunch of scraps and made the first speckled bowl. He brought it home and Mom thought it was hideous. "

Poof , just like that, a speckled bowl was made.   Isn't that ironic, throwing a bunch of scrap pieces together and making history? Perhaps some of the best creations are made in error, or on the fly.  Texas Ware's mottled mixing bowls have become a collector's dream and I'm very thankful (for once) we have a man who didn't listen to his wife's opinion on style and design. These treasures may have never existed.

But Wait Who Was First?

Back in the day I was in a group of four friends and we vehemently discussed melmac and for the sake of journalism, our big discussion was who was first to market.  In this instance, I think it's important who was BEST to market.  I have seen early examples of Boontonware mixing bowls and later examples of Brookpark mixing bowls (closest in design and confetti mottling to Texasware-see below). Perhaps you will agree PMC / Texasware was known for these bowls.

Even more confusing, I see so many speckled, confetti, or spattered melamine dishes erroneously tagged Texasware, as there is a plethora of people who assume anything with speckles is called Texasware, which it's not.

Now granted, for the sake of unbiased reporting, I can't be certain this was "the holy grail" of speckling, and keep in mind this wasn't uncommon for employees at plastics plants or even companies to make "end of day" dinnerware with left over scraps. I've seen early examples of Beetleware with speckles plus a lot of glittery 50's flexible kitchen plastics.  I've written about Russel Wright's speckled melamine items circa 1953 and Northern Melamine's end of day wares, so we could get all technical on who put the first bit speck or stipple or mottle in the dish or in the plastic,  but we won't go there because who has time for that?

First mottle in plastic? I wouldn't be surprised if a defunct plastic molder made a sewing button and was first to spatter or speckle plastics, out of pure necessity and need for buttons hence, perhaps we will never know.

I'm simply discussing the magnitude of the design impact of Texas Ware Bowls.  So call it what you will, Spatterware , Speckled, Mottled, Confetti, or even Dabbled or Spotted, but you will not find anything as amazing. 

Look for yourself, anything similar to the Texasware in the bowls you see on this Etsy page or just so-so blazay-blazay spatters and speckle?

Speckled Melmac from Etsy

Above:  Speckled Melmac for sale on Etsy search term : Spatterware+Melmac 

Below we see Brookpark's examples and they look much like Texasware, only different being PMC's design was more footed and thicker on the bottom ridge.   See for yourself and would you agree that these bowls are simply stunning?
Brookpark Mottled Mixing Bowls from Etsy store RetroReplacements
Retro Replacements has these for sale, look like TexasWare but they are Brookpark.

Texas Ware Bowl
Texas Ware Bowl lovely at best.  Note the footed ridge. Found:  @mightyMODERN

Boontonware Mottled Bowl on Etsy
Boonton's Mixing Bowl note, this is heavy mottling, most I have seen are less mottled and less prominent. This is a beauty found @PieInSkyVintage

I guess that's more about bowls that you want to know, but as someone famous once said there are no mistakes in life, just happy accidents. 

Thanks for reading!

Part Two Coming Soon   Wait for Part Two, where Gary Joy explains more about the Small Fry Originals...Coming soon....

I encourage sharing of my blog but please note if you wish to reference any part of this article you must adhere to my Content policy. Thanks.