Call it filling a void, call it hoarding, she loves her Fiestaware (and uses it every day)

By KJZZ News
Published: Tuesday, December 26, 2023 - 10:11am
Updated: Thursday, February 1, 2024 - 11:35am

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Collections is a series from The Show devoted to the things we acquire and treasure.

A stack of Fiestaware bowls
Robrt Pela
A stack of Fiestaware bowls.

High school teacher Teri Woods has been collecting Fiestaware since the 1980s, back when you could find pieces of it at Pic-n-Sav, a long-gone discount chain. Her collection, which she serves and eats from every day, is carefully displayed in the polka-dot-wallpapered dining room of her Arcadia home. 

'So if I have to have an issue ... I'm filling it with the most decorative, sturdy dishes.'

Homer Laughlin must be the happiest man in the world. Because his idea to just make simple dishes enlighten your house is genius. Every color is beautiful, some more beautiful than others, but he makes a place setting happy. I don't know who he is, but he's brilliant.

I started collecting Fiestaware in my late teens. I was renting this guesthouse on Palm Lane around 12 Street. Was it a Big Lots? Was it a Mac Frugals? What was the name when we drove about? Because we found that they were carrying seconds of Fiestaware, and we drove everywhere and we bought every piece of Fiestaware we could find. And there I was, in my late teens, starting a collection that has completely gotten out of hand.

So, I don't know how many pieces I have.

I should create a spreadsheet, because then I was hoping that I could go to my spreadsheet and say, "oh no, you have three of those and you can't buy anymore." But that rarely happens even when I know I have 15 turquoise blue plates and I don't need anymore. So, exactly how many pieces? It depends on the day and it never gets smaller. But I've only ever broken one piece in my whole life. It was a little bread and butter plate. I broke a bread and butter plate. I was trying to get it from the sink to the dishwasher and I did it the wrong way. And I was only not saddened by the fact that I broke my first Fiestaware piece because I had four more pieces exactly like it.

Fiestaware cups and plates
Robrt Pela
Fiestaware cups and plates.

I don't have a favorite color of Fiestaware but my kitchen, which I describe as Strawberry Shortcake threw up, with the green and white striped soffit with the light pink and dark raspberry polka dotted wall, was inspired by the lime green of the Fiestaware, the picture. That color is so cheerful, so spring, so happy. But I think, too, my favorite colors change by season, so when it's the spring season I like certain colors and when it's the winter season I change to different color palettes, but everything makes me happy.

I think I have a couple rare pieces because when I've researched, I looked at colors that had been discontinued or styles of cups that were a little bit different. I believe my oldest pieces are about 90 years old, and I try not to use those as much because I've tried to cherish the fact that, you know, my grandmother could have used those had she had the idea to collect Fiestaware like I do.

We use them every day. Every meal is on Fiesta, every beverage is in a Fiesta, whether it's a tumbler or a cup. Every meal is on a Fiesta bowl or a plate or saucer or a soup bowl or you know with vegetables. Everything is on Fiesta. There’s enough Fiestaware for everything.

I think the last count, I think I was at 52 plates. But that's only dinner plates. Salad plates, bread and butter plates, that's another count.

Fiestaware plates lined up
Robrt Pela
Fiestaware plates.

I would say 90% of the Fiestaware has come from thrift stores. A Goodwill, a White Dove, I got some in Nebraska, I got some in California. On my trips, if I find Fiestaware and I don't have it, I bring it home. I’ve bought a handful of sets of new Fiestaware because they have the gall to introduce new colors that I of course don't have. Thank you for the peony collection that matches my kitchen! So I've had to go out to department stores and purchase those because of course they have yet to make it to the thrift store of my choice.

We have issues, we have issues, people have issues. Instead of filling the issues, you have to collect things. I fill my holes and my issues with dishes. Other people collect other things for different reasons. I'm happy to say that of the issues I could have, at least I'm collecting things that are being used. I'm not collecting things that are just needing to be dusted. So if I have to have an issue, the void in my soul that needs to be filled, I'm filling it with the most decorative, sturdy dishes. Clearly not bone china but that's alright.

I know of people that frown upon collectors, consider us in the category of perhaps hoarders, but my hoarding doesn't go outside of my kitchen. Although I will say that every time I come home with another piece of Fiestaware, my daughter rolls her eyes, shakes her head, and says, “Oh Teri.”

A collection of Fiestaware dishes on a shelf
Robrt Pela
Fiestaware dishes.

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