I use my depression glass – and so should you. That’s what it was made for, and it adds greatly to the enjoyment of owning it. Odds are it’s already lasted 80 years with some abuse, but if you want it to last 80 more, and enjoy it at the same time, here are some tips to help it survive.
Wash by hand. I don’t know about you, but washing by hand <b>can</b> still be hazardous. Most of the glass I ever broke was in the sink. The dishwasher sometimes seems safer, but there are a couple problems with washing depression or elegant glass in the dishwasher. Like all glass they are subject to shock from sudden changes in temperature, and the dishwasher can get hot! Also it can cause clouding of the glass over time, as well as water spots you cannot remove. So what can you do? Put down a tea towel in the bottom of your sink when washing your glassware, which can help against chips and bangs.
(I actually do wash some of my plates in the dishwasher… shhhhh… don’t tell, but on a gentler cycle with a natural soap – so far so good, but I’m just tempting fate – do as I say, not as I do!)
Oh, and remember the shock from sudden changes in temperature? Don’t use your depression glass in the freezer or microwave for the same reason.
In the Cupboard:
Put paper plates or paper towels between plates or bowls that you stack. This is particularly important with the elegant glass over the depression glass as elegant glass often has a very sharp bottom. With glasses and stemware, always store them right side up. They can get chipped and abraded if stored upside down. Store the pieces far enough apart from each other that they can’t bump against each other, either when you’re reaching in or even walking by.
If you’re storing it, rather than using it every day, use clean paper or tissue to wrap it, and put paper plates between plates. Don’t use bubble wrap if it’s going to get hot. It could melt and adhere to the glass, and prove very difficult to get back off.
Most of the depression or elegant glass you will come across will have some scratches and scuffing from use. It’s old. It’s been beaten up a bit, but you can avoid adding more by correct storage practice, and by being careful with your knives. I wouldn’t use your glass plates for steak, for instance. Tougher cuts will require sawing with a serrated knife. That will damage your plate. Consider the kinds of meals you serve on your plates, and consider your guests! If you have children dining you might consider different plates, or if you have a clumsy relative. I have a dear friend, bless her heart, who has a tendency to gesticulate wildly. Many a wine glass or dinner plate has been swept to the floor in a moment of passionate story-telling. I’ll use other plates when she comes over.
With a little extra care you can enjoy using your vintage depression glass, or impressing your dinner guests with your vintage elegant glass for those special occasions. After all – that is what it was made for.