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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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Lorna Meaden, Punch Bowl, 2016

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Kevin Snipes, Numbers, 2016

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Steven Young Lee, Maebyeong Vasw with Fish Decoration

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Richard Notkin, Brave New Old World

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Kristen Cliffel, Welcome Friends, 2012

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Jessica Brandl, Struggle and Strive, 2015

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Michelle Summers, Untitled Series, 2015

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Shari McWilliams, Octomug, 2013

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Stapled crystal decanter, c.1830

March 13th, 2016

This cut crystal spirit decanter has panel cut shoulders, a single neck ring and a splayed top. It appears to be late Georgian, made in Ireland or England. It measures 8-1/2 inches high and is missing its mushroom form stopper.

Although it is not unusual to find cracked porcelain repairs with metal staples, glassware repaired in the same manner is less common. These metal staples made of thin wire repair a vertical crack on both sides, giving it the appearance of a laced corset.

This decanter with similar form has its original stopper but is without staple repairs. Guess which one I prefer?

https://www.1stdibs.com

Photo courtesy of 1stdibs

Bisque doll with wooden legs, c.1890

March 6th, 2016

This small doll made of tinted bisque (unglazed porcelain) was made in Germany in the late 1800s and measures 5 inches long. It was owned by my cousin-in-law Carol, who got it from her mother, a doll collector with an impressive collection. Carol believes that her mother made the hand crocheted outfit and that her great-grandfather made wood replacement legs after the original ones shattered.

Not surprisingly, there seems to be a large number of broken vintage toys with inventive repairs out there. China and bisque were the predominant materials used for making children’s tea sets, dolls, and other fragile toys, so naturally they would end up chipped, cracked and broken.

I think Carol’s great-grandfather did a fine job whittling and painting this sturdy pair of wood legs to replace the broken originals.

This is what the original bisque legs on Carol’s doll might have looked like before Geppetto whittled a new pair.

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Photo courtesy of Ruby Lane

Chinese porcelain plate with staples, c.1710

February 28th, 2016

This early 1700s hexagonal porcelain plate was made in China during the Kangxi Period (1662-1722). It has an unglazed hexagonal rim and foot rim, with a cobalt blue underglaze garden design and floral border. It  measures 9 inches in diameter.

After the plate took a tumble, it was put back together using three large metal staples, aka rivets, as well as an unusual pewter plug. Unlike the majority of the staple repairs I come across, the holes drilled to accommodate the staples go all the way through to the front, resulting in a nice dot pattern. With strong graphics appearing on the front and back of the plate, I deliberately display both sides.

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Whieldon-type creamware teapot, c.1780

February 20th, 2016

This Whieldon-type English pottery drum-form teapot is made of cream colored earthenware and has a brown and green tortoiseshell stained lead glaze. It has a nicely formed intertwined double strap loop handle with large floral and leaf terminals. The teapot measures 4.5 inches high.

Sometime during its early life the original lid was broken or lost so this sturdy ivory lid was made as a replacement. Although not as fancifulness as the original lid must have been, the snug fit and warm ivory color suit this teapot just fine.

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This similar example has its original lid with tipped flower knop.

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons