Archive for the ‘anecdotal’ Category

Oslo National Academy of the Arts

Saturday, 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.

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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.

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Make-do’s go mainstream

Saturday, 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.

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The New York Ceramics & Glass Fair, 2017

Saturday, 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.

Happy New Year 2017!

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

Wishing you all the best for a Happy New Year!

And about that champagne glass…

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Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

May the joy of the holiday season shine bright!

And try not to break any of your grandmother’s “good china” during your holiday meal.

But in case you do…

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Kintsugi at the MET

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

Last week I attended my first advanced Kintsugi class given by Gen Saratani, master Japanese lacquer restorer and artist. Kintsugi is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics using lacquer and gold. In the spring I took a beginner class with him and repaired a chipped plate, which I posted earlier.

Hoping that I would find examples for inspiration at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, I did indeed stumble upon these early pieces. They are all Korean pottery: stoneware, porcelain & Buncheong ware.

Oil bottle decorated with peony leaves Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), late 12th century. Stoneware with reverse-inlaid design under celadon glaze.

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Maebyeong decorated with cranes and clouds Goryeo dynasty (918-1392), late 13th century. Stoneware with inlaid design under celadon glaze.

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Small bowl decorated with chrysanthemum Goryeo dynasty (918-1392), 12th century. Porcelain with incised design.

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Dish with inscription and decorated with chrysanthemums and rows of dots Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), mid-15th century. Buncheong ware with stamped design.

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Design Philadelphia 2016

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

I gave a talk yesterday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as part of Design Philadelphia’s citywide celebration. My gracious hosts for the event were Emily Finigan, of Finigan Color & Interiors, and Alex Stadler, owner of stadler-Kahn, where I gave my talk.

Emily, who has been following my blog since its inception, is a kindred spirit whom I finally got to meet last January at the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair. Alex is a multi-talented artist, author, and textile designer.

Upon entering Alex’s inviting subterranean shop, I was immediately drawn to a large wall of full-size images from my collection that Emily had painstakingly printed, cut out, and mounted, creating a striking backdrop. I couldn’t help but look at each and every piece of merchandise that Alex had acquired for his shop, and I loved the eclectic mix of mid-century ceramics, original vintage New Yorker Magazine illustrations, metal sculptures, glassware, along with wool scarves, rugs, and shirts of his own design.

I enjoyed being in the warm, inviting, intimate space – perfect for my informal talk. After it ended, the chairs were cleared, refreshments were served, and I chatted with the attendees, many of whom had interesting questions and observations regarding early repairs.

It was a beautiful weekend in Philly and I was glad to have been a part of Design Philadelphia. I look forward to returning to the City of Brotherly Love and next time maybe I can do something about that large crack in the Liberty Bell.

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Ceramic shards and inventive repairs

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

When I was about 10 years old, I started collecting ceramic shards gathered during my daily journey to school. It was a 1 mile trek from my house on Elmwood Place to Glenwood Elementary School and a favorite route of mine was to cut through the Hartshorn Arboretum. It was more fun to follow the creek rather than the walking path, and it was there that I began finding and filling my pockets with bits and pieces of broken pottery and porcelain. I kept my treasures in an old cigar box on a shelf above my desk. A few years later when the box became full I decided to glue the pieces to an old glass bottle, creating a ceramic patchwork. I was pleased with my creation and thrilled that my parents let me display it alongside their highly regarded Chinese porcelain, mercury glass and English pottery pieces. Little did I know at the time that my childhood collection of ceramic shards would plant a seed that would take root years later and blossom into my collecting broken ceramics with inventive repairs.

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My ceramic patchwork bottle sits in the back on the middle shelf.

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Now it seems that ceramic shards are finally getting the attention they deserve. The recently published London in Fragments by Ted Sandling is filled with wonderful photos showcasing artifacts found along the River Thames. Each relic gives insight into the lives of those who tossed their unwanted household items into London’s ultimate detritus depot.

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Across the pond is Alban Horry, an archeologist, or more precisely a ceramologist: one who studies ceramics and pottery. He lives in Lyon, France, and works at INRAP, the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research, studying ceramics from the Middle Age to 20th century found in excavations.

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Mr. Horry has written 2 books on the subject, including Poteries de Lyon 1500-1850.

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Beach Lake craft show

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

Yesterday I stopped by a local craft show in Beach Lake, Pennsylvania, and discovered Ellen McGinnis, a crafty lady who makes a form of contemporary make-do’s. By pairing up unwanted single ceramic plates with glass candle stands and bases, she creates footed cake stands and serving bowls. Although not officially inventive repairs, they are a form of recycling that I feel have the same spirit as vintage make-do’s.

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This cut crystal compote from my collection has a do-it-yourself replacement base made from a discarded wooden spool, which has the same sensibility of Ellen’s contemporary creations.

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Not a make-do, part two

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

“We learn from failure, not from success!” Bram Stoker, Dracula

Well said, Mr. Stoker. Over the years, I have purchased a handful of items which, at the time, appeared to have inventive repairs. But upon closer inspection, I discovered they were not make-do’s. Here are a few of my mistakes that I eventually grew to love and even learned something from.

During a trip to Amsterdam a few years ago I purchased four glasses with silver bases at an antiques market. I was surprised to find over a dozen pieces with similar silver repairs all in one place. Assured by the dealer that the bases were indeed replacements and not original to the glassware, I bought a few of them, even though I was still not entirely convinced of his claim. Upon returning home, I began to research them extensively and after hours of digging deep into the depths of Google, came up with nothing. Months later, I accidentally stumbled upon a similar piece for sale in Amsterdam. After contacting the shop, Valentijn Antiek, and asking for information regarding this specific type of “repair”, I was told that these were not repaired pieces. The dealer went on to tell me that they were and still are being made by contemporary jewelers. I was told “For clarification, you should know something about the (Dutch) national character: The Dutch are and were very frugal. A repair, for example, crystal, should not cost too much. Objects are restored only in case 1) there is not as quick as possible a replacement; 2) the material of the object is expensive and scarce; 3) it is a precious object, because it is a reminder; or because one has received it from someone (like your mother in law) with whom you do not want to have to get a quarrel.”

This delicate champagne flute is the first piece I bought. I still find it hard to believe that its silver base is not an inventive repair.

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This goblet has a nicely detailed silver base. It also had me fooled.

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I was a bit more skeptical of these two, which appear to be from the 1960s. Their silver bases do look intentional.

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I recently found this sharply cut small footed dish at an antiques shop in New Jersey. Although my gut was telling me that the hallmarked silver base was not a replacement I purchased it anyway. It seems that old habits die hard.

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