I have to say it: I have an excellent mother-in-law. She is a talented painter, has an electric personality and a heart of gold. And her name is Bunny, AKA “The Bunster”…because an ordinary name wouldn’t be right for a woman like her.
So, apparently on my last visit to her home in NY State, I commented on her beautiful fondue pot. Next time I saw her, which was last weekend, she handed me a wrapped up package and said, “You said you liked this the last time you came, so I thought you should have it.” I had forgotten about any such comment I made, so I had no idea what it could be….but you can imagine my thrill when I opened the package and saw THIS:
A vintage Catherineholm of Norway fondue pot….with the wooden sticks included!!! I’ll admit it: At the time, I didn’t know its history, but I knew it was special. So I decided to do a little research, starting with Googling “vintage fondue pots”. The pattern was clearly a match to the Lotus pattern designed by Catherineholm. The trademark on this pot was almost entirely faded out from use, but under good light it was visible; “MADE BY CATHERINEHOLM – NORWAY”
Catherineholm was a Norwegian company that started in the early 1900s as an ironworks factory and by mid-century began making enamelware for household use before closing its doors in the 1970’s. This particular pattern is known as “Lotus”. The interesting thing about this pattern is that while credit is generally given to Grete Prytz Kittelsen, one of the factory’s top designers, she only designed certain shapes and colors of particular bowls that later had the lotus pattern on them. The actual lotus design was created by her husband, Arne Clausen, another factory designer. As iconic as this pattern has become in recent years as mid-century design has become fashionable, there is almost no information on Arne himself. There is, however quite a bit of information on Grete, who is considered one of the greatest Scandinavian designers of all time. She was a gifted designer who never even liked the lotus design that she has been so often credited for creating, saying that the pattern interfered with the function of the piece. While the Lotus pattern has become more pricey as it’s become more popular, places like Etsy has an abundance of great inventory. And, Lucie Kaas has some lovely Arne Clausen-inspired ceramics.
So naturally I’m now wondering what other gems my mother-in-law has hidden in all those cabinets and closets of hers…I’ve always known she had great taste, and now I have a little piece of her great taste, through Catherineholm Lotus, in my kitchen. And, yes, we’ll be having fondue this weekend.
Some of the above information was sourced from the following: