Who is that masked beast?
How handsome he is! How dashing!
Why does he come amongst us, in this idyllic forest vale? Is he friend or foe? And who is his companion, the learned-looking creature?
Hmmmm. A bit haughty, perhaps, but I believe he comes in peace. Let’s ask him to dine.
And dine we shall.  With Tanssi (meaning ‘dance’ in Finnish),  a tableware collection illustrated by London-based Finnish artist Klaus Haapaniemi.
As described on the Iittala website:
“The Tanssi pattern was inspired by Haapaniemi’s visual designs for the Finnish National Opera production of The Cunning Little Vixen, by Czech composer Leoš Janáček. The sad yet beautiful story exploring the co-existence of animals, humans and the eternal cycle of life, comes alive in Haapaniemi’s rich designs on tableware created by Heikki Orvola.”
Fresh from my sojourn in Venice, home of the opera mask, I couldn’t help myself. I had to set this table.
I’ve had the plates and mugs for years, but never knew quite how to style them until the mask inspiration struck. The black lacy one shown below on the fox came home with us about a decade ago on a previous trip to Venice and has been gathering dust in a bottom drawer.
I can’t remember where I found this tiny little mask, but it was the perfect size for Ms. Chipmunk.
I gathered a bunch of flameless candles and nestled them in leaves from the Japanese Maple tree.
Twig placemats made the perfect base for the creamy white English Countryside dinner plates by Mikasa and the Cupola Flatware set from Williams Sonoma.
Gold twist-stemmed antique Venetian goblets fit right in, along with mushroom-shaped natural wood salt and pepper grinders a gift from Glenn one year.
Much to my annoyance, I broke the clear glass bowl clean off the stem of one of the goblets when it tipped over onto the table. It can be repaired by a glass specialist who happens to live in Sandwich, Cape Cod, but I did growl a bit, cursing my clumsiness.
It was hard to stay grouchy, though, looking at these fantastical creatures on the tableware.
Which napkin to choose was a bit of a puzzle. I started off with rust-coloured ones, thinking they would pick up well on the ferns on the plates. Too much of a muchness, I found, so went with the Victorian Blue napkins from Williams Sonoma, and previously used here and here.  The napkin rings are quite delicate, and you need to be careful not to bend them while sliding the napkin inside. They’re from Chintz & Co in Victoria, BC many years ago.
It was a lovely day, one of the last warm ones before winter’s warning shot over the bow.
Hello again! Yes, we’re looking at you.
And you, little bear. Why don’t you have a mask on?
There are a few spare ones lying around. Which one would you like to try on?
One last look at the table by night and we will leave everyone to enjoy their forest frolic.
I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.