It’s the little things that matter most. Enjoy the Holidays!
Archive for the ‘anecdotal’ Category
Last weekend I was invited to participate in the annual Ceramics Collectors, Collections, Connoisseurship & New Scholarship lecture series (aka “Dish Camp”), a 3-day event which attracts an international array of scholars, collectors, dealers and enthusiasts of antique china, porcelain and pottery. It is hosted by Don Carpentier, the founder and director of Eastfield Village, at his historic assemblage of antique structures, located in Nassau, NY. Don and I share a passion for historical antiques and period film set design & decoration, as we have each worked independently in both fields for many years. But unlike me, Don has practically and single-handedly moved an entire village worth of buildings, and in the process became an expert tinker, potter, mason, cabinetmaker, printer…the list goes on. I just don’t know how he does it all, and so stunningly well. And he’s a really nice guy!
Don on the left, me on the right. Usually I’m the one eating something in every candid photo.
As I unpacked examples from my collection and set them out on one of two 20′ long tables, already filled with other collectors’ wonderful ceramics and fragments, Don noticed a Staffordshire child’s mug with an unusual tin repair and informed me that it was made by a student of his who makes new tin repairs on damaged antiques. He spotted it immediately: the extraneous curly flourish at the bottom of the handle was the true giveaway. I purchased the mug from a reputable New England dealer a few years ago and I assume (hope) she didn’t realize the repair was contemporary.
My first PowerPoint presentation (I know, welcome to the 1990s) was projected on a screen inside of the classic Greek Revival church (built in 1836 and moved to the village in 1978), with examples from my collection in the foreground.
Attendees were encouraged to bring in inventively repaired antiques from their own collections, such as this English porcelain teacup with an early bronze replacement handle, which Don has owned since he was a teenager. I love how the delicate bronze replacement handle mimics the form of the original.
Another “dish camper” brought in this marvelous English transferware cream jug with a nicely formed tin replacement handle.
Starting in 1971, Don has moved over 20 original structures from the late 18th and early 19th century (board by board and brick by brick) from neighboring towns to his property, creating an entire village, complete with a Greek Revival church, tavern, blacksmith’s shop, doctor’s office, print shop, and general store (below).
E. A. Brown’s General Store is filled with an eclectic assortment of antiques which are actually for sale, but sadly all items are in fine condition and there is not a “make-do” to be found. To be fair, Don has an affinity for items with early repairs and has his own collection, started when he was just 14 years old.
Mark took this photo without changing or moving any of the elements contained within the frame. Each room of every building contains endless, perfectly placed tableaux, as if the original inhabitants still occupy the dwellings and are just beyond the camera’s reach.
The John Brooks House, also known as the “Little White House”, was remodeled in 1820. An early outhouse and a couple of small sheds are seen on the left.
Mark and I are looking forward to returning to Eastfield Village later this summer to spend more time with Don, immerse ourselves in the art of blacksmithing or printing, and briefly live in his glorious antique lovers utopia.
Photos by Mark Randall
On Wednesday of this past week I bundled up and made my annual journey northeast to The New York Ceramics Fair, located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Each year at this time I look forward to attending the event and have been doing so since 2004. It’s always a pleasure to see the dealers and to drool over their fabulous merchandise, hoping that I will see some wonderful examples of inventive repair.
Leon-Paul van Geenen brought this amazing 17th century Dutch or German roemer with jaw dropping repairs.
Two brass palette-shaped plates, convex on the outside and concave on the inside, have been riveted together to conceal a large hole in the center.
The inside of the goblet shows the hammered ends of the rivets holding the plates in place.
The stem also has a unique repair; a plate with initials and a date of 1718, most likely the date of the repair and the initials of the restorer.
This is an example of a roemer without repairs, and in my mind, the less interesting of the two!
Another example of inventive repair brought by Mr. van Geenen is this small stoneware jug made in Sieburg, Germany.
The jug has three molded figural medallions, the center one with a man’s face and a date of 1595.
But what interests me the most is a lead plug with an incised cross, sealing a small hole on the side of the jug. I have not seen this type of simple yet effective repair before and will now be on the lookout to find other examples.
Warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a very Happy New Year.
Photo by Ira Lippke
“The animal escaped from an auction market next to GB Antiques Centre in Lancaster, Lancashire, on Monday and barged its way into the shop, which was packed with 200 people.
Police had to shoot the animal in order to save customers and stock – china and all. It was herded to an area of the centre and blocked in using two antique organs before a police marksman opened fire. A woman was treated in hospital for a bruised shoulder after the incident. ‘Hundreds of items will have been destroyed, at a cost running into thousands of pounds,’ Mr Blackburn said.”
Actually, this was a staged photo shot on July 5, 1950. The original caption read “An Ayrshire bull causing havoc in the midst of wrecked china for the filming of a scene on the China industry at Hayeswood Farm, Madresfield, Worcestershire.” Notice the artfully placed frame around the bull’s neck and the teapot placed on his head.
Had this been an actual incident, it would have paid a china menders wages for a year.
Photo courtesy of Animality
The Piano, a 1993 film directed by Jane Campion and starring Holly Hunter as Ada McGrath, a mute pianist, and Anna Paquin as her daughter Flora (both Oscar winners for their performances), contains a poignant “make-do” that must be noted in these virtual pages. In the course of the film, Ada has her right index finger severed by her jealous husband in a fit of rage, depriving her of the ability to play her piano. In the film’s epilogue, Ada’s new lover has created for her a riveted silver ”make-do” replacement finger, complete with a finger nail, which allows her to play the piano once more. I love a happy ending, especially when an inventive repair is crucial to the outcome!
I attended Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama, earning a degree in set design, while Holly Hunter was studying acting. Her immense talent was evident even then, though she had a difficult time masking her thick Georgian accent. How appropriate that she won her Oscar playing a mute. Years later I worked as a set decorator on a film directed by Jane Campion, but never had the chance to tell her how much I liked the final frames of The Piano and Holly’s make-do finger.
The film’s poster shows a tender moment between Holly Hunter and Harvey Keitel as her lover Baines. Notice that her right hand still has its index finger intact.
A beautifully made silver replacement finger allows the ivories to be tickled once again…Fade out.
Poster and photo courtesy of Miramax
Today I visited the NYC showroom of porcelain manufacturer Richard Ginori, founded in Italy by Florentine Marquis Carlo Ginori in 1735, and home to hundreds of stunning, colorful patterns. But what I was most drawn to was a line of dinnerware ironically named “Broken”, the least colorful dishes in the showroom. This ingenious collection of 14 pieces was designed in 2010 by architect and product designer Paola Navone. Each of these stark white porcelain pieces features printed cracks “repaired” with trompe l’oeil metal staples. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a repaired “Broken” plate with actual metal staples? I guess that would be an example of life imitating art imitating life…
Dinner plate measures 10-1/2″ in diameter.
The trompe l’oeil staples and cracks look truly convincing even upon close inspection.
“Cracked” teacup, guaranteed not to leak, and matching saucer.
Soup plate, broken in three places, is held together with three staples. Or is it?
Sugar bowl and milk pot from the tea service.
I am often asked which are my favorite examples of antiques with inventive repair and my reply is…all of them! But if I absolutely had to narrow down the list to my top 10 favorites, I would include those pictured below. Please know that this list is purely subjective and includes items that simply make me smile whenever I see them. These have all been previously posted so you can read more about each piece in the original post by clicking on the title above each photo.
So here they are, from 10 to 1…
Number 10: Victoria and Albert jug, c.1840
Number 9: Primitive wooden shovel, c.1870
Number 8: Large Chinese Mandarin mug, c.1780
Number 7: Stick spatter peafowl teapot, c.1810
Number 6: “Scottish Thistle” crystal cordial, c.1920
Number 5: French Delft ewer, c.1690
Number 4: Anglo-Indian brass candlestick, c.1875
Number 3: Chinese export miniature vases, c.1690
And my number 1 top favorite is: Eastern European teapot, c.1925