The China Decorator magazine was founded in 1956 by Nettie Pillet who, at the time, was in her late seventies. It began as a simple newsletter announcing news of the day and a few black and white studies. Nettie had been involved in china painting for years and wanted a way to bring porcelain artists together and share their ideas, designs and experience. She worked with a local printer who helped her put the newsletter into the form of a magazine fashioned after the publication of the same name that existed from the late 1800's to the early 1900's.
In 1961 the subscription list had grown to just a little over 1600 subscribers. By this time it had become too much for Nettie to continue doing the work on her own. At the age of eighty-four she decided to sell the magazine. She contacted the Burbank family, Gladys, Les, Don and Betty and asked if they might be interested.
The timing couldn't have been better. The magazine (at that time) was something that could be a part time job for all of them and it could be run out of the home, much like Nettie had done. They all pitched in and bought the magazine as partners and divided the duties. Gladys and Les would handle the duties of laying out and editing the magazine while Don and Betty would cover the logistics and general office work. October 1961 was the first issue produced by the Burbanks.
In 1965, the magazine had really begun to grow and they found it necessary to open a larger office and hire full time employees. In 1971, after Les had passed away and Glady's eyesight was failing, she retired and Betty took over the duties of layout and editing. In 1973 Don and Betty decided to move out of Los Angeles. They found some acreage and built a house and a barn, the latter of which was the office for the magazine.
In 1980 Jeanne (Goodwin) Valentine came to work and has been with the magazine ever since. Many of you may have met or spoken with Jeanne, who has handled most of the booths at the china shows and taken care of all of the office duties.
As many of you may know, in 1995 Don passed away. But, with the full support of her family and Jeanne, the magazine went on. The Burbank's had been publishing the magazine for 36 years and Betty still found it a joy to work on each and every issue. She had the privilege of working with so many great artists over the years and made so many good friends. Like Nettie, she hoped to continue until she was at least 84 years old.
But In 2006 Betty Burbank passed away and with the support of all the china painters in this fine art, that have supported this magazine for all these years, Jeanne continues to carry on the tradition that proceeded her. With your support, she will carry on as the editor and chief of The China Decorator as long as there are interested painters out there to enjoy it.
Update Nov 1 2018. Due to the decline of the china painting world I was forced to make the decision to close the business. The last magazine has been printed and mailed. Thank you to all who have supported me and the magazine for so many years. I will miss you all. Jeanne