Pat Albeck – Queen of the Teatowel On Friday I was given this beautiful vintage linen teatowel, designed by someone called Pat Albeck. I idly Googled this name, having no idea I was about to encounter the Queen of Teatowels herself!
Pat Albeck is a legend of a British designer who has been designing teatowels (as well as ceramics, paper and other fabrics) ever since the 1950s. My fish teatowel is one of a set of three, all made with cut paper collage, and sold in the John Lewis department store in the 1960s. Aren’t they beautiful?
Apart from doing lots of work sold at John Lewis (enough to be featured in Lesley Jackson’s Twentieth Century Pattern Design, mind you!), other clients have included Sandersons, Horrockses, Heals, and Jean Muir, and her designs have been used extensively on stationery and crockery too.
But let’s back to teatowels. After all, Fiona Rattray, in an article for the Guardian, says that Pat Albeck “practically invented the decorative teatowel”, and I’m kinda interested in teatowels myself too.
Most of her teatowels were designed for the National Trust, using images, objects, and sometimes cats from National Trust houses as design themes. There really are a lot of these National Trust teatowels, as Pat Albeck has also designed their annual calendar teatowel since the 1970s. Chances are, you might recognise some of these in your own linen cupboard:
All these pics and the info has been taken from Pat Albeck’s website, which is full of interesting history and anecdotes about each design. It also has the interesting fact that her designer son Matthew Rice has married ceramist Emma Bridgewater, adding a new thread to this English patterning dynasty.