Archive for February, 2017

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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French faience patriotique plate, c.1790

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

To commemorate the end of the French Revolution, post-revolutionaries planted trees to celebrate their freedom. This well-used earthenware faience patriotique plate with tin glaze was made in Nevers, France, in the late 1700s. It is made of red clay and decorated with polychrome enamels to emulate Chinese porcelain.  The Liberty Tree depicted here reflects the patriotism of the French.

The underside of this plate reveals even more history, as over a dozen rusted iron staples still hold the damaged plate together after it was shattered more than 200 years ago. Plaster was used to fill the gaps that were left surrounding the tiny holes. To me, the unintentional overall pattern made by the staples on the underside are just as interesting as the design made by the artist on the front of the plate.

 

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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Chinese mug with metal handle, c.1780

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

This bell-shaped footed porcelain mug was made in China in the late 1700s for export to Europe and North America. It is painted in the Famille Rose palette with polychrome enamels and depicts a domestic scene with family members gathered around a large green table. I particularly like the porcelain teapot and cups on the table, as well as vases and garden seats nearby. It measures 6.25 inches tall and 4.5 inches across the top.

At some point in this mug’s early life something went awry. We will never know for sure if a scullery maid, a small child or a cat knocked over the mug, causing the handle to snap off. But rather than toss out the broken pieces, the owner brought them to a clever chap who made a simple bronze replacement handle. Many years later the handle was painted white, and now is discolored a sickly yellow. I am tempted to strip off the offensive veneer to reveal the rich bronze color beneath, but for now I will keep it as is.

This mug, with similar form and decoration, shows what the original loop handle on my mug might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of The Saleroom