19 September 2013

In Search of the Perfect Oilcloth

One of my fondest childhood memories is summer vacation at grandma's camp. It was little more than a shack on homesteaded land on a small inland lake not far from where we live. My father and grandfather built it in the 1940s using whatever materials they could scrounge. It had low ceilings, linoleum floors, gas lights, and a wood-fired cook stove in the summer kitchen. We hauled water from the lake for sponge baths and washing dishes. Trips to the outhouse after dark were always kind of scary.

Cotton Lavender Oilcloth Tablecloth



The farm table, where we ate our meals and in the evenings the grown ups played cards, was covered with a piece of oilcloth that was tacked to the underside. It was practical in a camp where even the simplest conveniences were lacking.

I think I need an oilcloth tablecloth for my kitchen table. Spills and crumbs could be easily wiped away and it would be a lot less work than having a tablecloth in and out of the washer and dryer. Easy so far, right?

Cotton Lavender Oilcloth



Not so fast....

Here's what I found in my online oilcloth search: if you're looking for something subtle and stylish, you need to go to Europe. Seriously. Gingham checks and summery cherry patterns are pretty, don't get me wrong, but I'm looking for something quieter and simpler that I can live with day in and day out.

European oilcloth also comes in wider widths. That's important to me as I don't want a skimpy overhang.

Tablecloth Natural Striped Linen Provence



I discovered that oilcloth is popular in the UK (as well as France and Sweden), which led me to a fabulous website called Not on the High Street, which is a British 'Etsy-like' marketplace offering products from multiple vendors. Not all ship to the US, but many of them do. I'll pay the extra postage to get what I want.

Vintage / Rustic Hessian Burlap Table Runner



I haven't had a chance to look over the whole site but I'm lovin' what I've seen so far. Hannah from Tonder & Tonder has been patiently answering my questions about overhang lengths and finished edges.  It is one of those shops where you want every single item they sell.

Hessian Stag's Head Cushion Cover



So I haven't found the perfect oilcloth, yet, but I feel like I'm getting closer.

If you're not familiar with Not on the High Street, you might want to grab a glass of wine or a cup of tea and Enjoy!