Posts Tagged ‘American’

Paper box with handsewn edges, c.1880

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Veering away from my more typical posts showcasing inventive repairs on ceramics and glass, today I am featuring the art of a mended paper box. Before the invention of masking and Scotch tapes, damaged paper products were repaired using strips of thin fabric, patching with paper, and mending with thread. I have long admired the unintentional artistry created by patterns made by tiny stitches used to repair torn pages in a book.

This small green paper box, most likely made in New England in the late 1800s, measures 4.75 inches by 4.25 inches and is 1.75 inches tall. It seems the entire box fell apart and rather than tossing it into a roaring fire, someone quite cleverly stitched up every edge, giving it a unique folksy look.

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Pewter teapot, c.1850

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

This unassuming pewter teapot was most likely made in America in the mid 19th century. It stands 9 inches tall and has a fanciful wooden handle and knob. As pewter is a soft and malleable metal, many early pieces did not survive intact. This pot is one such example.

At some point during the past 160+ years, the original base was damaged and the tea stopped flowing. A tinsmith fashioned a simple tin conical foot as a replacement and the teapot was able to function once again. At the time of the repair, the shiny metal base stood in stark contrast to the dull pewter. But today, both metals appear to have melded and the repair is now hard to detect.

This pewter teapot with similar form suggests what the original base on mine might have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of eBay

NCECA conference 2016

Saturday, March 19th, 2016

Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the NCECA conference in Kansas City, MO. I wasn’t prepared for seeing over 5,500 artists, curators, students and ceramic enthusiasts at the convention center and at various galleries, nor the abundance of the wonderful work on display and for sale.

Breaking (no pun intended) tradition from my weekly postings of inventive repairs, I am showing just a few of my favorite pieces, all perfectly intact. But after my lecture on the art of inventive repair, I am hoping some of these artists and others will be inspired to repair their own work, just in case the inevitable happens.

Mariko Paterson, Bird Brain, Bird Vain, 2016

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Lorna Meaden, Punch Bowl, 2016

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Kevin Snipes, Numbers, 2016

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Steven Young Lee, Maebyeong Vasw with Fish Decoration

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Richard Notkin, Brave New Old World

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Kristen Cliffel, Welcome Friends, 2012

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Jessica Brandl, Struggle and Strive, 2015

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Michelle Summers, Untitled Series, 2015

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Shari McWilliams, Octomug, 2013

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Champagne coupe with wood base, c.1850

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

This hand blown glass champagne coupe with fluted stem was made around 1850, possibly in America. It measures 5-1/2 inches high.

I imagine during an exuberant New Year’s Eve toast, well over 100 years ago, the base snapped off. Rather than toss out the broken glass, a replacement base was made. A simple, nicely turned wood replacement base was attached to the remaining stem and the champagne was poured once again.

Happy New Year to my friends and followers of Past Imperfect: The Art of Inventive Repair!

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Chrysanthemum Leaf vase, c.1900

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

This Early American Pattern Glass (EAPG) vase was made in Greentown, Indiana, by the Indiana Tumbler & Goblet Co. from 1894 until 1903. It is made of non-flint glass in the Chrysanthemum leaf pattern with gold accents and stands 5.75 inches high.

I have many examples of EAPG goblets, celery holders, vases, cake stands and oil lamps in my collection that have been dropped and inventively repaired with wood and tin. This one sports a modern-looking golden oak pyramid-shaped wood base replaced in the early 20th century.

This vase still has its original base.

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Photo courtesy of eBay

Honeycomb pattern goblet, c.1860

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

I don’t like to use the term “make-do” to describe antiques with inventive repairs, as I feel it diminishes the artistry and integrity of the piece. But this EAPG (Early American Pattern Glass) 5-1/2″ tall goblet in the Honeycomb pattern is a make-do in the best sense of the word, a fine example of Yankee ingenuity. Made in America between 1850-1870 during the Industrial Revolution, machine-made pressed glass examples such as this were mass produced and available to all.

Though more affordable than hand blown glass counterparts, this goblet was still cherished enough by its owner to be repaired after it broke. In this case, after the base snapped off, a simple unpainted and overscaled wooden base was attached to what was left of the broken stem. The result is a bit comical, as we are left with a short, stout goblet with an extra wide wood base that resembles half of a yo-yo.

This example with its original base shows what my goblet looked like before it took a tumble.

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Photo courtesy of eBay

Pewter whale oil lamp, c.1830

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

This early American pewter whale oil lamp with squared off acorn shaped font stands a tad more than 6″  tall. Whale oil was the preferred source of lighting in the early 1800s, and was also used for making soap, textiles, jute, varnish, explosives and paint. It fell out of favor by late 1800s as a result of the development of kerosene oil in 1846.

The metal replacement base, made by a tinker in the 19th century, has oxidized to almost the same tone as the pewter, thereby making the repair hard to detect. As a result of the missing double burner atop, this lamp instantly transforms into a unique and quirky vase.

Barrels of Whale Oil – New Bedford, Ma., 1859

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This example still has its original pewter base and double burner.

Photo courtesy of Dennis Raleigh Antiques

“Girl of Lily” sugar bowl, c.1860

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

What looks like a glass goblet is actually a sugar bowl. Made in the mid 19th century by the McKee Glass Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this EAPG (Early American Pattern Glass) stemmed sugar bowl is made of flint glass and has a raised “Girl of Lily” pattern, also called “Eve” and “Little Eva”, on three sides. It stands 6″  tall and has an opening of 4-3/8″  and is quite heavy, characteristic of flint glass, which has a large lead content. Another characteristic is its durability, though at some point in the 1800s, the sugar bowl slipped out of the hands of its carrier and the base snapped off. Luckily it wasn’t a salt container, as some believe that spilling salt is an evil omen. Spilled sugar, not so much. But it seems someone in the house was handy, as a nicely turned wood base was made to replace the broken original base and the sugar bowl was passed around the dinner table once again.

This photo shows the sugar bowl intact with the original lid and base.

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From the book Much More Early American Pattern Glass by Alice Hulett Metz, 1965

Swallowed up whale oil lamp, c.1860

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

This whale oil lamp is pulling a Jonah in reverse, as it appears that the “whale” has been swallowed up by its wood replacement base. Possibly made by the New England Glass Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the mid-1800s, this tri-mold pressed glass lamp with thumbprint pattern stands 7-1/4″ tall.

Whale oil was the preferred source of lighting in the early 1800s, and was also used for making soap, textiles, jute, varnish, explosives and paint. It fell out of favor by the third quarter of the 1800s as a result of the development of kerosene oil in 1846, a cheaper and less odorous alternative.

The lathe-turned wood base envelopes more than half of the lamp, which results in a whimsical, yet sturdy, home repair.

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This oil lamp with similar form shows what the original glass base on my lamp most likely looked like before it took a tumble.

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Photo courtesy of eBay

“Westward Ho” pressed glass jug, c.1879

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

As much as I appreciate gorgeously painted porcelains with exquisitely crafted sterling silver repairs, I also get a thrill discovering stoic survivors such as this humble pressed glass jug. It was made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Gillinder & Sons in the late 1870s and stands 7-3/4″ tall. The acid etched “Westward Ho” pattern, originally called “Pioneer”, was so popular with consumers that it has been reproduced many times since its debut 135 years ago.

No surprise that in my opinion the best feature of this jug is its 4″ x 5″ clunky wood replacement base, which dates to the early 1900s. After it was attached to the intact upper body of the jug, it was painted white to appear more elegant. Although most of the whitewash has worn off, a warm patina remains on the out of proportion, crudely carved chunk of pine. Repairs of this kind were typically done at home using whatever materials were at hand. I imagine this jug was quickly repaired at father’s work bench, returned to the kitchen for mother to fill with cream, then brought to the dinner table to be passed back and forth between family members. Thanks to this sturdy, no-nonsense repair, it is still able to perform its original function over one hundred years later.

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The jug at the right, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, shows what the original footed base on mine would have looked like before it snapped off.

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Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art