Archive for the ‘anecdotal’ Category

Making-do in Dresden, Germany

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

This past May I traveled to Dresden, Germany, to see the world renowned ceramics collection at the Porzellansammlung (Porcelain Collection) at the Zwinger, Dresden’s magnificent palace. Not only did I see the jaw-droppingly gorgeous ceramics, sumptuously displayed in various rooms and hallways of the palace, but I was given a private tour by Heike Ulbricht, conservator of ceramics. Ms. Ulbricht was most generous with her time, spending over 2 hours showing me early repairs sprinkled throughout the collection, and giving me a peek at pieces she and her colleagues were currently working on. Only about 10% of the collection is on view to the public so I was thrilled to witness the astonishing collection of over 20,000 examples, kept cool in underground vaults below the great halls of the palace.

IMG_7650

IMG_7755

IMG_7919

IMG_7826

IMG_7940

IMG_7878

IMG_7785

IMG_7834

IMG_7837

IMG_7848

IMG_7851

IMG_7763

IMG_7764

These two pieces of Meissen porcelain, both with sturdy brass staple repairs, are in the private collection of Heike Ulbricht.

IMG_7744

IMG_7746

IMG_7753

IMG_7749

IMG_7750

IMG_7751

Happy 4th of July 2016!

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans.

And to my friends in the UK…sorry about that.

IMG_8871 - Version 2

IMG_5669

IMG_8094 - Version 2

IMG_9209 - Version 2

IMG_9193

IMG_8247 - Version 2

IMG_8876

IMG_8832

The Kingman Tavern Museum mystery

Saturday, June 11th, 2016

In the small hamlet of Cummington, Massachusetts, home of the esteemed ceramics gallery Ferrin Contemporary, sits the Kingman Tavern Museum, a small historical museum overflowing with antiques of local interest, donated mainly by the town’s residents. The collection includes a full scale replica of an early 1900s country store, miniature rooms by artist Alice Steele, and vintage clothes, tools, and household items. Among them is a curious set of porcelain plates riddled with early staple repairs.

On a shelf sitting alongside a handful of innocuous-looking plates and tableware are two stacks of thick walled bowls and platters, each with pronounced staple repairs. The cobalt blue stylized rabbit pattern is unfamiliar to me but appears to be American, late 19th century, and perhaps restaurant china. No one associated with the museum seems to know anything about the set or how they got there. If anyone recognizes the pattern please let me know and help solve this mystery!

IMG_5261

IMG_5264

IMG_5273

IMG_5266

IMG_5269

IMG_5271

Inventive repairs in Prague

Sunday, 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!

Saturday, 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

Nostetangen goblets with silver repairs

Saturday, 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

NCECA conference 2016

Saturday, 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

NYC&GF exhibit and lecture, part 2

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Here are some more photos from my exhibit, Mended Ways, which ended last Sunday at the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair. In addition to the 100+ examples of my own antique ceramics and glassware, I also curated a collection of contemporary work by ceramic artists, with help from Leslie Ferrin of Ferrin Contemporary. I’d like to thank these artists for loaning their work and for continuing the tradition of early repairs.

DSC01805

Details from fastidiously hand painted plates by Stephen Bowers, showing trompe l’oeil fragments and staples.

DSC01705

Ai Weiwei’s “Bubble” sphere using the Chinese kintsugi repair technique to enhance the cracks by filling them with gold.

35698_Weiwei, Ai_sphere1

Detail of a figure by Sergei Isupov with painted cracks.

DSC01695

Two pieces by Paul Scott, using reassembled antique ceramics.

DSC01712

Shattered and fused plate by Ruan Hoffmann.

35726_Hoffman, Ruan_ I Love, I Hate_IMG_8036

Stoneware jug with wood “staples” by Adam Lefebre.

DSC01700

Nicolle Horsfield’s broken plate stitched back together using silk thread.

IMG_5197 - Version 2

One of many explosive sculptures using reassembled broken antique ceramics by Bouke de Vries.

DSC01958

Vase with gold kintsugi repair by Frances Palmer

35722_Palmer, Frances_Three Spout Tulipiere_IMG_9517_180dpi

Mara Superior also used the kintsugi technique to repair a crack in a figural vase.

IMG_7911 - Version 2

NYC&GF exhibit and lecture, part 1

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

I was thrilled by the turnout at my exhibit, Mended Ways, at the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair this past week, as well as the reception to my lecture, Past Imperfect. To top it all off, I got a nice mention (with photo!) in yesterday’s New York Times. Thanks to my friends, family, fair organizers and staff, contemporary artists, and to the new people I met, for your support. I also enjoyed meeting some of you – my blog, Instagram and Facebook subscribers, who came up and introduced themselves to me. Such a pleasure meeting you face to face!

The exhibit is comprised of three cases of examples from my collection of antiques with inventive repairs and one case of pieces by contemporary artists who have found inspiration in early repairs. I will include pieces by these extraordinary artists in an upcoming post.

DSC02006

DSC01819

DSC01783

DSC01689

DSC01739

DSC01716

DSC01719

DSC01862

DSC01885

newspaper_scan_small

All photos by Mark Randall

The New York Ceramics & Glass Fair

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

I am thrilled not only to be speaking at The New York Ceramics & Glass Fair, January 21-24, but also to be exhibiting over 100 examples of antiques with inventive repairs from my personal collection, titled Mended Ways. Included in the exhibit is a collection I curated, in conjunction with Ferrin Contemporary, of ceramics by contemporary artists, including Stephen Bowers, Bouke de Vries, Ruan Hoffmann, Noelle Horsfield, Sergei Isupov, Adam Lefebvre, Frances Palmer, Paul Scott, Mara Superior, and Ai Weiwei, who have taken the art of inventive repair to new heights. My lecture is this Thursday at 4PM and my exhibit is up during the run of the fair so please stop by.

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 2.30.41 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 2.31.33 PM