Wishing you all the best for a Happy New Year!
And about that champagne glass…
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.
Maebyeong decorated with cranes and clouds Goryeo dynasty (918-1392), late 13th century. Stoneware with inlaid design under celadon glaze.
Small bowl decorated with chrysanthemum Goryeo dynasty (918-1392), 12th century. Porcelain with incised design.
Dish with inscription and decorated with chrysanthemums and rows of dots Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), mid-15th century. Buncheong ware with stamped design.
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.
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.
My ceramic patchwork bottle sits in the back on the middle shelf.
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.
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.
Mr. Horry has written 2 books on the subject, including Poteries de Lyon 1500-1850.
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.
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.
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.
These two pieces of Meissen porcelain, both with sturdy brass staple repairs, are in the private collection of Heike Ulbricht.
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!