The Willow story

It was my birthday last week and one of the gifts I received was this gorgeous little book called The Willow Pattern Story (by Allan Drummond).  I love the Willow pattern, and as a child I grew up eating from Willow patterned plates.  This book outlines the story behind the Willow design, and is full of really cute hand-painted illustrations to accompany the story.
Willow plates depict a Chinese temple, bridge, distant island and a willow tree as the essential components of each piece. Also in the pattern are two birds in flight, their beaks kissing in mid-air symbolizing the spirit of eternal love. The Willow plate contains the heart and soul of this lovely legend with a tragic ending.
The Willow Pattern book gives a detailed account of the story (of which there are many variations) but this is a condensed version of my favourite;
Long ago, in the days when China was ruled by emperors, a Chinese mandarin lived in the magnificent pagoda under the branches of the apple tree, over which droops the famous willow tree and in front of which is seen the graceful lines of the fence. The wealthy mandarin had a beautiful daughter named Hong Shee who had fallen in love with her father's humble secretary, a man named Chang. This made her father cruel with anger, he dismissed the young man and built a high fence around his house to keep the lovers apart, and imprisoned his daughter in the little house just visible on the left of the temple. One day she escaped and the two lovers raced over the bridge pursued by her father to a waiting boat. They reached the boat, escaped and sailed away to a distant island where they took refuge in the little wooden house. However, the mandarin father pursued and caught the lovers and was about to have them killed when the gods took pity on them and transformed them into a pair of doves. The birds are seen gazing into each others eye’s and the spirits of the two lovers live on to this day.
I also thought I'd share the very cute wrapping paper the book was wrapped in!!  It features the adorable collage-style illustrations by Catherine Campbell.  Catherine's illustrations are very feminine and slightly whimsical, and I love the girls on the wrapping paper with their paper-doily skirts, newsprint tops and sailor outfits - too cute!  Catherine has an Etsy shop and a blog if you want to see more of her work.


  1. What a cute book! And such a good gift for you. That must be one of the most adorable interpretations of the willow story. I did a research unit on the pattern for college back in March, to begin I was quite in different to the pattern, almost not liking it but the more time I spent studying it and finding clever people (like you!) who use it in a modern context, the more I came to love it. I lust after Catherine's work...I dream of owning an original one day! Hope you had a nice birthday :)

  2. I had a lovely birthday thanks Katy!
    I only became aware of the Willow story recently - but it is lovely. It's probably a bit late for you now but there is a company called W2 products (English company I think) that do a very contemporary version of the Willow design in black and white which is rather stunning. You can find it here:
    (Or go to and select the 'Willow Range' on the front page) Lucy :-)

  3. I love that book too. Hope you had a lovely birthday - great to chat with you.