Chinese porcelain sauce boat, c.1760

May 28th, 2016

This elongated Baroque serpentine form silver shape sauce boat was made in China during the Qianlong period (1736-1796). It is made of porcelain and decorated in the Famille Rose palette, with hand painted flowers, ducks, and garden stools in pink, green, blue, and white enamels with gilt highlights. It measures 9-3/4 inches long by 3-5/8 inches high.

Well over 150 years ago when the original simple loop handle snapped off, a “china mender” fashioned a replacement handle, which was riveted to the body. To help insulate the metal from the hot contents, rattan was wrapped and woven around the handle. This would have been one of a pair of matching sauce boats and was a part of a large dinner service. I wonder if it was separated from its mate and other “perfect” serving pieces, as was often the case.

IMG_8430

IMG_8431

IMG_8433

IMG_8437

IMG_8439

IMG_8445

The original handle on this sauce boat, with identical form and similar decoration, gives you an idea of what the handle on my sauce boat would have looked like.

chinese-porcelain-silver-shaped-sauceboat-qianlong

Photo courtesy of Online Galleries

Covered vegetable dish, c.1830

May 22nd, 2016

This English pottery covered vegetable dish measures 12.5 inches by 10.25 inches and has brown transfer decoration of Greek buildings, urns, and classical figures. Although a potter has yet to be confirmed, there is speculation that it may have been made by Hicks, Meigh, & Johnson in Shelton, Staffordshire, between 1822 and 1835. It is marked on the underside “ANTIQUES, Stone China”.

When the original handle on the cover broke off, a tinker made this chunky iron replacement. Although it in no way matches the elegance of the original handle, this sturdy repair allowed for the cover to function once again.

IMG_7108 - Version 3

IMG_7111

IMG_7112

IMG_7050

IMG_3075

IMG_3074

This covered dish with similar form shows what the original handle on mine might have looked like.

06-01

Photo courtesy of Antiques Image Archive

Inventive repairs in Prague

May 15th, 2016

I just returned from a trip to Prague where I was bowled over by the seemingly endless amount of stunning Art Nouveau architecture, paintings, and decorative arts. Naturally, I was on the lookout for ceramics and glassware with inventive repairs, and was delighted to actually stumble upon a few good examples.

The most interesting ones were hiding in plain sight within the Prague Castle walls at the Lobkowicz Palace, which houses the Princely Collections of paintings, instruments, original musical scores, and decorative arts.

Two pieces of early rare Italian maiolica have what appears to be unexceptional 19th century tinker repairs. One of the jugs has a clunky and poorly painted replacement spout. I am surprised that the repairs found on these pieces were not executed with more artistry and finesse.

Rather than write the captions for my photos, I have copied directly from the English translations found on the glass display cases:

“Examples of a large service from Savona in North Italy, late 17th century.”

IMG_7284

IMG_7292

IMG_7290

IMG_7296

IMG_7301

IMG_7298

IMG_7300 - Version 2

“Examples from an extensive service of maiolica, from the Pavia region of Lombardy, painted in polychrome with scenes of figures and ruined buildings in mountainous coastal landscapes, all within borders of detailed moulded and painted acanthus leaf, flowers and grotesques some with wheat husk edging: Italian, late 17th century.”

IMG_7269

IMG_7274

IMG_7277

Kintsugi repair, at last!

May 7th, 2016

Ever since I started my blog, people have asked me when I was going to start showing examples of Japanese kintsugi. The definition of kintsugi has been interpreted as “golden joinery”, “golden repair” and “to repair with gold”. I have long been an admirer of the ancient art of repairing broken ceramics and glassware using urushi (lacquer) and real gold powder but wanted to learn more about it before discussing it here.

I recently completed classes given by Gen Saratani in Manhattan and learned first hand how to repair a chipped plate. We were told to bring in a ceramic object with a chip and I knew immediately which piece to bring in: a French plate made by Sarreguemines, c.1890, with a large old chip at the bottom. The transfer decoration depicts an itinerant “china mender” repairing a broken vase using staples, while a distraught client looks on. A sign above him proclaims “I mend with staple and without staple: alabaster, wood, tortoiseshell , marble, amber, ivory, crystal, glass, earthenware, porcelain!! That’s the mender and repairman.” Beside him are a few plates repaired with staples. Next to the sign is a poster with the title “THE BROKEN JUG” showing a lovely lady holding a jug. My favorite detail is a stapled plate with a heavy weight hanging from it, to show how strong his staple repairs are. I do not recommend trying this at home.

Here is my completed plate with the chip now filled with gold covered lacquer. I will discuss the step by step technique I learned in upcoming posts, as well as show rare examples I have found in museums.

Thanks to Gen Saratani for his excellent teaching skills and to archeologist Alban Ceramo Horry for translating the text on the plate.

IMG_7174

IMG_7171

IMG_7172

IMG_7066

IMG_7060

IMG_7067

Miniature cup with staples, c.1910

May 1st, 2016

This is the one of the smallest antiques with inventive repair I have ever seen. Made in England by the Crown Staffordshire Porcelain Co. Ltd. in the early 1900s, the cup is a mere 3/4 inches high and the matching saucer has a diameter of just 1 inch. Both are decorated with pink flowers on a cobalt and gilt ground. The cup is stamped in green on the underside CROWN above the image of a crown. The same mark is barely visible on the underside of the saucer.

The smallest of the 3 metal staples on the cup measures a mind-boggling 1/8 of an inch long. After the staples were applied, they were painted over to blend in and appear less offensive. I can only imagine the precision and skill needed to make this delicate repair.

IMG_8954

IMG_8959

IMG_8960

IMG_8961

IMG_8962

IMG_8966

Here is an entire miniature tea service also made by Crown.

0a1feae5817c08e76c57d36a0c3bd655

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Chinese floral cream jug, c.1760

April 23rd, 2016

This porcelain baluster form cream jug with sparrow beak spout has floral decoration painted with polychrome enamels in the Famille Rose palette. It was made in China, circa 1760, and measures 4.5 inches tall.

After the original porcelain handle broke off, a rattan-wrapped bronze replacement handle was added. The missing patch of woven rattan reveals a bent section of bamboo just under the handle which was added to help cushion the bare metal. The tactile ridges in the rattan also make the handle easier to grip.

This jug of similar form shows what the original handle and lid might have looked like on mine.

full_34556

Photo courtesy of De Franse Lelie

Nostetangen goblets with silver repairs

April 9th, 2016

During a recent trip to Oslo, Norway, I discovered that the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design is packed with antiques with inventive repairs. I was particularly impressed by the abundance of intricately engraved 18th century German and Norwegian glassware, many with added silver mounts repairing snapped goblet stems and missing bases. Reflecting their rarity, many of these priceless presentational pieces were brought back to life by esteemed Norwegian jewelers and silversmiths in the 18th and 19th century. Here are some of my favorites:

Goblet (center) engraved by H. G. Kohler, artist and engraver at Nøstetangen Glassworks, on the occasion of the anointing of King Christian VII, 1767. The crimped silver joint was added later to repair the broken stem.

IMG_6374 - Version 2

IMG_6375 - Version 2

Goblet, Nøstetangen, ca. 1766-1770. Engraved by H. G. Kohler with later ornate silver replacement base.

IMG_6361 - Version 2

IMG_6363 - Version 2

Goblet (center) engraved in Bohemia, c. 1720, with silver cuff to repair a snapped stem.

IMG_6338 - Version 2

IMG_6342

Both goblets were engraved at Nøstetangen Glassworks by an unknown engraver in 1748. The goblet at left has a silver cuff repairing a broken stem and the goblet at right has a brass replacement base.

IMG_6347

IMG_6356 - Version 2

Worcester inkwell & quill holder, c.1810

April 2nd, 2016

This gorgeous porcelain drum form inkwell with conical reservoir and 3 quill holes is hand painted in polychrome enamels with gilt highlights. Made by Worcester around 1810, it is marked on the underside in red script “Goldfinch / Chamberlain’s Worcester.” It measures nearly 2.75 inches high with a diameter of just over 2.5 inches.

I can just imagine the dreaded day, well over 150 years ago, when this expensive inkwell dropped to the hard floor, breaking into 4 pieces. A skilled tinker or itinerant “china mender” came to the rescue by adding 7 iron staples and a copper band around the top, enabling the inkwell to function again. Putty was added to help seal gaps left along the rim and for added assurance that ink would not seep through the bonded cracks.

IMG_9104

IMG_9143

IMG_9106

IMG_9117

IMG_9107

IMG_9108

IMG_9110

IMG_9114

This is another rare example of a Chamberlains Worcester inkwell, minus the early repairs that mine has.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 11.49.09 AM

Photo courtesy of The Saleroom

Copper lustre jug with blue bands, c.1840

March 26th, 2016

This copper lustre blue-banded pottery jug, decorated with polychrome relief birds and flowers, stands 6.25 inches high and 8 inches from handle to spout. It was made in England in the mid 1800s.

After the handle broke off, sometime in the 19th century, it was taken to a tinker who fashioned an overscaled metal replacement handle with crimped edges, and ample finger and thumb rests. The remains of the lower handle terminal were left on the jug so the tinker just went around it when he did his repair.

Copper lustre decorated wares originated in the 9th century and were first made by Islamic potters. Inspired by these early pieces, English pottery houses, including Spode and Wedgwood, developed their own techniques, starting at the beginning of the 19th century and continuing to around 1860. Although highly collectible for decades, lustreware has recently fallen out of favor and can now be purchased for a fraction of what it once sold for.

This jug, identical in form and decoration, shows what the original handle on mine looked like before it broke off.

Photo courtesy of Ruby Lane.

NCECA conference 2016

March 19th, 2016

Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the NCECA conference in Kansas City, MO. I wasn’t prepared for seeing over 5,500 artists, curators, students and ceramic enthusiasts at the convention center and at various galleries, nor the abundance of the wonderful work on display and for sale.

Breaking (no pun intended) tradition from my weekly postings of inventive repairs, I am showing just a few of my favorite pieces, all perfectly intact. But after my lecture on the art of inventive repair, I am hoping some of these artists and others will be inspired to repair their own work, just in case the inevitable happens.

Mariko Paterson, Bird Brain, Bird Vain, 2016

IMG_6680

Lorna Meaden, Punch Bowl, 2016

IMG_6626 - Version 2

Kevin Snipes, Numbers, 2016

IMG_6665

Steven Young Lee, Maebyeong Vasw with Fish Decoration

IMG_6604

Richard Notkin, Brave New Old World

IMG_6606

Kristen Cliffel, Welcome Friends, 2012

IMG_6636

Jessica Brandl, Struggle and Strive, 2015

IMG_6667

Michelle Summers, Untitled Series, 2015

IMG_6649

Shari McWilliams, Octomug, 2013

IMG_6631