March 18th, 2017
I wonder how many fires were started as a result of broken candle holders? I have come across many examples with unusual replacement bases, including metal funnels, coconut shells, and blocks of wood. This is not surprising, as candleholders were handled everyday by various household members in every room of the house.
This candle holder was made in England in the late 1800s. It stands 7.5 inches high. It was most likely one of a pair which might have been separated from its “perfect” mate. After the original brass base became detached from the stem, an overscaled wood replacement was fashioned. This well made base, complete with beveled edges and cut-line detailing along the top, measures 5 x 5 inches and appears to be a homemade make-do.
What ever happened to the matching candle holder without repair, you may ask? The story of The Prince and the Pauper comes to mind so I imagine it has spent the past 130+ years in a castle, polished within an inch of its life, sitting prominently on a large sideboard and hobnobbing with other “perfect” things.
This pair of candlesticks suggests what the original octagonal base on mine might have looked like.
Photo courtesy of Selling Antiques
February 25th, 2017
Last March I was invited to speak about the art of inventive repair at Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHiO) to students in the Art and Craft department. Along with professor and ceramic artist Paul Scott and fellow visiting speaker and metalsmith artist David Clarke, we shared our interests and passions with the students, showing examples of our work and inspiration. I was in excellent company and thoroughly enjoyed the experience and my visit to Norway.
On view at the KHiO library is an installation recreating the office of Kai Gjelseth, a graphic designer, illustrator and associate professor of design at KHiO. The glass-walled office is filled with an eclectic assortment of interesting objects and ephemera collected from his trips abroad. Naturally, my favorite item is a large white porcelain bowl riddled with metal staples. I would love to know where he found it and what drew him to it.
February 19th, 2017
To commemorate the end of the French Revolution, post-revolutionaries planted trees to celebrate their freedom. This well-used earthenware faience patriotique plate with tin glaze was made in Nevers, France, in the late 1700s. It is made of red clay and decorated with polychrome enamels to emulate Chinese porcelain. The Liberty Tree depicted here reflects the patriotism of the French.
The underside of this plate reveals even more history, as over a dozen rusted iron staples still hold the damaged plate together after it was shattered more than 200 years ago. Plaster was used to fill the gaps that were left surrounding the tiny holes. To me, the unintentional overall pattern made by the staples on the underside are just as interesting as the design made by the artist on the front of the plate.
February 11th, 2017
Looks like antiques with inventive repairs, aka “make-do’s,” have finally made it into the collective consciousness of the mainstream antiques world.
In the 2016 edition of the venerable Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide it states in the introduction: “And there is a surprising…interest in repaired pieces from years ago, like stapled export porcelain, ‘do-withs’ (sic) like broken goblet stems made into candleholders or damaged 18th century porcelain teapots with silver spouts added as replacements. It may be just part of the way being ‘green’ has influenced sales of antiques.”
Do-withs?! I kinda like it, in a sort of dyslexic way.
January 21st, 2017
This past Wednesday I attended the preview opening of the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair, the “jewel in the crown of New York’s Winter Antiques Week,” at the Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan. My friend Bibiana and I enjoyed meeting up with old friends and seeing what new treasures the dealers unveiled.
At Ferrin Contemporary I found a striking collage by Paul Scott made from two different antique ceramic platters with blue & white transfer decoration, melded together using kintsugi and gold leaf. Also on display was a large sculpture, Peacock 1, by Bouke de Vries, made from broken antique ceramics.
I found this pair of German stoneware jugs at Martyn Edgell Antiques Ltd. The Westerwald jug at top has incised decoration and cobalt glaze, c.1695. The early ribbed pewter band on the handle repairs an old hairline crack. The second jug, from around 1600, has a large ornate engraved English silver mount.
Martyn also had this plate with wonderful decoration, including my initials. Too bad it’s not damaged, for if it were riddled with metal staples repairing a multitude of cracks, I would have snatched it up in a jiff.
January 14th, 2017
This hard paste porcelain baluster-form jug with sparrow beak spout was made in Paris, France, by Andre Leboeuf at the Fabrique de la Reine factory, circa 1778. It is hand decorated in the ‘Cornflower’ pattern, also known as ‘Angoulême’ or ‘aux Barbeaux’, a favorite of Marie Antoinette and Thomas Jefferson. It measures 4.75 inches high and is marked on the underside with the letter ‘A’ and a gilt crown. Work of this kind is known as Porcelaine à la Reine and Old Paris Porcelain.
Unlike obvious repairs, such as replacement handles, spouts and lids, this jug possesses a chip off the old block, or more precisely, a chip off an old pot. The lip must have been so badly damaged that a jeweler or china mender had to graft on a piece from another vessel. The replacement piece, unintentionally cut in the shape of the State of Nevada, was fitted to the enlarged hole in the jug, just like a jigsaw puzzle, using two small brass rivets along the rim. An adhesive compound was applied along the edges to seal the deal. Not the most elegant of repairs but this jug must have meant so much to its original owner that a delicate jug with a Nevada-shaped patch was better than no jug at all.
This jug shows what the missing cover and metal mount on my jug might have looked like before Napoleon smashed it to the floor.
Photo courtesy of Rouillac