Welsh jug with metal handle, c.1850

April 29th, 2017

This little pearlware pottery cream jug was made in the unpronounceable village of Ynysmeudwy, Wales during the mid-19th century and was part of a child’s tea set. It is decorated with moulded relief of hunters, dogs, and flowers, with flow blue glaze and copper lustre bands at the rim and base. It stands nearly 3.5 inches high and is marked “35” in copper lustre on the underside.

As is true of the many fragile items for children that I have in my collection, this poor jug must have slipped from the hands of a nervous child, who no doubt was told to handle it with care. Well over 100 years ago, as a result of the mishap, a tinker made a sturdy metal replacement handle. There must have been a lot of pressure placed on small children when they were given delicate playthings like this, and unjustly punished when the inevitable happened. I can just imagine the collective sigh of relief heard worldwide when children were given unbreakable toys made of plastic to toss about as they pleased.

This jug of similar form and decoration suggests what the original handle on mine might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of eBay

Pressed glass goblet with wood base, c.1860

April 22nd, 2017

This EAPG (Early American Pattern Glass) goblet in the Honeycomb pattern was made in America during the Industrial Revolution between 1850 and 1870. It stands 3.25 inches high.

After the base snapped off, it was repaired at home with a primitive wood replacement. A quick and easy, yet inelegant, fix. Please take a look at two other similar pieces, Honeycomb pattern goblet and EAPG glass goblet, each with different shaped wood replacement bases. I would like to attend, or perhaps host, a dinner party with mismatched wine goblets such as these. And if things get rowdy, I may have to do a bit of re-repairing of my own.

This goblet with base intact shows what my goblet might have looked like before it became undone.

Photo courtesy of Brey Antiques

Wedgwood barrel-form teapot, c.1780

April 15th, 2017

This basalt stoneware barrel-form teapot was made in England by Wedgwood, and in production from 1780 to 1790. It measures 3.5 inches high and 6 inches wide from handle to spout. The underside has the impressed mark “WEDGWOOD, Z, 1x”, and “B257” is hand painted in gold on the underside of the teapot and its lid.

Sadly for some but happily for me, over 200 years ago this small teapot slipped from the hands of someone who must have cherished it and the spout broke off. It was taken to a jeweler or tinker who replaced it with a silver spout on a scalloped plate. I have many examples of spouts with the same design, so I assume they were made in bulk by jewelers to have on hand, ready to be popped on to similarly damaged teapots. The lid’s knob broke off at a later date but was not replaced. I am hoping one day to make my own replacement knob of the same design, perhaps in silver to match the spout.

This undamaged teapot shows what the original spout and Sibyl-form knob looked like before they were damaged.

Photo from British Teapots & Tea Drinking by Robin Emmerson.

Chinese Qianlong plate, c.1750

April 7th, 2017

This plate was made in China during the Qianlong period (1736–1795) for export to North America and Europe. It measures nearly 9.25 inches in diameter and is decorated in cobalt blue over a light blue ground.

Well over 225 years ago after the plate dropped and a large chunk along the rim broke off, it was taken to a china mender who reattached the broken pieces using metal staples. Hand marked in red on the underside is “Mrs. Lou Pearson”, which I assume is the name of the owner who brought the plate in for repair. Signed pieces such as this are uncommon and bring us one step closer to the mostly undocumented world of the men and women who did these marvelous, anonymous repairs.

Georgian creamware teapot, c.1790

April 1st, 2017

I love finding pieces with multiple repairs and this lovely soft paste pottery creamware teapot with pearlware glaze fits the bill nicely. It was made in Staffordshire or Leeds, England, in the late 1700s and is hand painted with spritely polychrome floral decoration on both sides. It measures 5 inches high and is marked with what appears to be A+A in red on the underside of the pot and lid.

But of course the reason it ended up in my collection is the three inventive repairs, which include a slightly exaggerated bronze handle covered in rattan, a brass collar concealing a chipped spout, and a cracked lid repaired with brown paper tape. I believe each repair was done years apart so one can only assume that the previous owners of this teapot were a clumsy lot.

This teapot still has its original handle and spout and shows what mine may have looked like before it was repaired.

Photo courtesy of Skinner

Mad Hatter’s tea party

March 24th, 2017

What better place to stage a photo shoot of some of my inventively repaired ceramics than on one the sets I decorated on the television series Gotham. I helped create some wonderful, over-the-top fantasy settings during the past 3 seasons, including this one for the nefarious Mad Hatter. Thank you Elizabeth Rogers for your terrific photos!

Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Rogers

Brass candle holder with wood base, c.1880

March 18th, 2017

I wonder how many fires were started as a result of broken candle holders. I have come across many examples with unusual replacement bases, including metal funnels, coconut shells, and blocks of wood. This is not surprising, as candleholders were handled everyday by various household members in every room of the house.

This candle holder was made in England in the late 1800s. It stands 7.5 inches high. Most likely it was one of a pair that might have been separated from its “perfect” mate. After the original brass base became detached from the stem, an overscaled wood replacement was fashioned. This well made base, complete with beveled edges and cut-line detailing along the top, measures 5 x 5 inches and appears to be a homemade make-do.

What ever happened to the matching candle holder without repair, you may ask? The story of The Prince and the Pauper comes to mind, so I imagine it has spent the past 130+ years in a castle, polished within an inch of its life, sitting prominently on a large sideboard and hobnobbing with other “perfect” things.

This pair of candlesticks suggests what the original octagonal base on mine might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Selling Antiques

Qianlong punch pot, c.1760

March 12th, 2017

This large porcelain Chinese punch pot with blue & white floral decoration was made during the Qianlong period (1736-1795). It measures nearly 9 inches high and 11 inches from handle to spout.

In the mid-1700s, alcoholic punch, which consisted of spirits, water, sugar, nutmeg, and spices, was served in what looks like oversized teapots. I guess too much alcohol was added to an early batch, as whoever held this pot at the time was a bit tipsy and dropped it. After the handle shattered, it was taken to a tinker who made a bronze replacement. The raw metal was wrapped in wicker to protect one’s hands from the hot contents of the pot. Over the past 200 years or so since the repair was made, much of the wicker has fallen off, exposing the metal. I can only hope that the next person who fills this pot with hot punch remains sober and keeps a tight grasp on it.

This punch pot of similar form shows with the original handle on mine most likely looked like.

Photo courtesy of Doyle

Toby figural pepper pot, c.1870

March 5th, 2017

This 5 inch tall figural pepper pot (also known as a caster or muffineer) in the form of Sir Toby Philpott, wears a tricorn hat and grasps a tankard of ale in one hand and a tobacco pipe in the other. It was made in Staffordshire, England, in the late 1800s, of polychrome glazed pottery and is part of a four-piece caster (also known as a cruet or condiment) set, which includes a mustard, salt, and vinegar.

This Toby originally stood on a round plinth base, which he jumped off of (or fell, or was pushed) at least 100 years ago. In its place is a nicely crafted silver replacement base, lending an air of elegance to this robust fellow.

This chap stands on his original base, although the crack at the bottom leads me to believe that he might be heading to the silversmith soon to be fitted for his own silver replacement base.

Photo courtesy of The Antique Shop

Oslo National Academy of the Arts

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 and looking at money metals exchange complaints. 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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