Making Eclectic Table Settings Out of Souvenirs
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Making Eclectic Table Settings Out of Souvenirs

Artist Eve Mannes uses a variety of media to transform dining tabletops into creative tablescapes.

Set out on Scottie-themed placemats are Scottie dog dishes, placed over charger plates.
Set out on Scottie-themed placemats are Scottie dog dishes, placed over charger plates.

You don’t have to have company to take out the beautiful things you already own for a memorable dinner at home. Artist Eve Mannes transforms dining tabletops into what she calls table-scapes, original table setting concepts that have become her daily ritual, offering her a kind of therapy.

“After my morning cup of joe, I rummage through drawers with no theme intended, except maybe for holidays,” she said. “I start to pull items for inclusion. It gives some decorum and civility to dining at home.” She added how she and her husband, Harvey, love to cook and prepare meals for themselves, family and friends. “Hosting has always been our pleasure.”

Mannes’s table settings are assembled around her extensive personal collection of a wide variety of items, including china, crystal, modern design accessories, vintage antiques, Alessi objects and innumerable pieces from her world travels. During COVID, she says, it became a ritual to create different table settings three to four times a week.

Even though not made up specifically for Thanksgiving, Eve Mannes liked the combination of using Alessi Alien placemats with Thanksgiving hats and ducks.

“Using placemats I have made or ones purchased, each table setting has its own unique identity,” she explained. “The tables become alive with color and fancy.” Mannes pulled out four blue and white placemats, originally purchased in Paris, and added a paper shoe by Linda Filley, using similar colors, to unify the tablescape theme for that day.

Mannes admitted that “the pandemic left us eating more at home. In addition, Harvey and I had to cut back on our travel plans — something we had so thoroughly enjoyed, especially after he retired from his urology practice.” So, over the last year and today, after searching through her many closets and drawers, Mannes found ways to incorporate rediscovered items into her daily life.

“I like the surprise and fun aspect of seeing something new each time we sit down for lunch and/or dinner,” Harvey says. Together, they love seeing objects from their many travels put out as personal treasures. Each item brings back loving memories of a trip, whether it was a few years ago or several years past.

Mannes talked about how “anything but anything can be included on the table.”

Large placemats and napkin rings share a flower motif.

She says the juxtaposition of unexpected and familiar objects often makes the tablescapes more interesting. A vintage antique — such as a plate from Agra, India, or a gilded gold lunch box from Myanmar — a Party City purchase and a travel souvenir can all share the same tablescape composition. Other times, one theme, like Scottie dogs, will incorporate different items with a similar motif.

“Since we have not taken journeys during this ongoing pandemic, using items like saris from India as tablecloths and other fabrics, reminds me of that long list of travel experiences,” Mannes says.

Some of her favorite tablescape collectibles include chargers from Chicago, paper shoes by craftswoman Linda Filley and Allen placemats from Alessi. Then there are the Scottie-themed placemats she made along with Bakelite-resin Scottie napkin rings from Scott’s Antiques Market and Scottie dishes to be set over charger plates.

A hand of Buddha found at the Buford Farmer’s Market, Gaetano Pesci plastic placemats from Coming Soon in New York and three starfish purchased at Fernandina Beach, Fla. are some of her other travel treasures. For now, the collection is far from complete.

“I am still buying! If it looks good, it will feel good,” Mannes says.

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