Archive for January, 2015

The New York Ceramics & Glass Fair, 2015

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Each year I look forward to attending the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair at Bohemian National Hall, for me the highlight of New York’s Winter Antiques Week. This year the fair has expanded to three floors of exhibition space, including more glassware and contemporary pieces than ever before. I enjoyed seeing Martyn Edgell and his booth chock full of colorful English ceramics, including shelves of dazzling mocha ware pottery. Leon-Paul van Geenen was back this year with a few examples with early repairs, as well as white Delft pottery, many pieces included in his recently published book, Delfts Wit. A handful of early white plates were give a modern spin on Japanese Kintsugi repair, done by artist Bouke de Vries.

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Leslie Ferrin of Ferrin Contemporary had two booths of fine ceramics by leading international contemporary artists, including Vipoo Srivilasa, Sin-ying Ho, and Stephen Bowers, as well as modern examples incorporating inventive repair, which I was especially drawn to. Paul Scott, an English artist, has done extensive research and has published articles on the fascinating subject of early staple repair, incorporating it into much of his work. Francis Palmer and Mara Superior showed large vessels with Kintsugi repair and faux staples, making their pieces even more unique.

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It was heartening for me to see so many examples of antique and contemporary ceramics with inventive repair in such a prestigious venue. It gives me hope that beauty in imperfection is now being embraced by more artists, dealers and collectors than ever before.

Napoleonic War commemorative mug, c.1814

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

I am a big fan of commemorative pottery, particularly ones with strong graphics and bright colors. Whenever I spot an example from afar in a shop, I secretly hope that it has some sort of inventive repair. Sometimes I get lucky. This creamware mug with printed transfer and hand colored decoration boasts the message “Peace of Europe Signed at Paris May 30, 1814.” Made in 1814 by Bristol Pottery in England to celebrate the signing of the peace treaty marking the end of war with France, this mug measures 4-3/4″ tall and 5-1/4″ wide to end of handle. Check out the details in photos showing the Bristol Pottery mark, the factory in the background, and ships with wood crates no doubt filled with pottery for export.

This mug possesses numerous battle scars, including chips, cracks, and the loss of its original loop handle. After the handle broke off, a 19th century tinker replaced it by drilling through the body and attaching a metal replacement with two square fasteners. To add insult to injury, the replacement handle is covered in rust, a result of further neglect. But if this mug were in “perfect” condition, I would not have purchased it.

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This example, with different copy and overglaze coloring, can be found in the collection of the British Museum in London.

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Victorian silver server, c.1850

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

This ornate sterling silver serving piece has a carved mother of pearl handle with an etched monogram. It was made during the Victorian period (1837-1901), most likely in England. Although I can not say for certain, its asymmetrical form suggests it to be a jelly server. It measures 8-1/2″ long.

At first glance you may wonder why this seemingly “perfect” server ended up in my collection of inventive repairs, but upon closer inspection, you can spot a subtle repair. The mother of pearl handle cracked in half at a fragile stress point and was reassembled using pins and a silver mount. Also, the neck has been replaced with two wires clumsily soldered to the blade. In my opinion, the pattern of the four pins on the front and the wonderfully shaped brace on the back only enhance the original design, adding a unique charm to this piece.

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