Delft teapot with metal handle, c.1720

October 14th, 2018

This Dutch (or perhaps English?) globular form tin-glazed earthenware teapot, dates to around 1720. It is decorated with hand painted flowers and birds in glazes of blue, red, and green on a white ground and measures 5 inches high and 7.25 inches wide from handle to spout.

Over 150 years ago, its original loop handle was replaced with a slightly more elaborate metal replacement handle with thumb rest. More recently, red string was added to keep the handle and lid from going their separate ways.

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

Photo courtesy of The Fitzwilliam Museum

Early iron metal repairs

September 23rd, 2018

Early repairs can pop in unexpected places. For example, last May I went to visit my mother who lives in a small town in the Berkshires. Near her house is the Barnard Cemetery, with grave markers dating back to the middle 1700s, where I came across rusty iron braces holding together broken tombstones. I have seen similar early repairs on stone steps in Florence, Italy, so keep your eyes open for other repairs such as these throughout the world.

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Copper lustre jug with badminton decoration, c.1830

September 9th, 2018

This English copper lustre jug with canary yellow and painted over transfer decoration of a woman and child playing badminton, dates from around 1830 and stands 5.75 inches high. It is not uncommon and I have seen dozens of examples of it in various sizes, all priced affordably.

What sets this particular jug apart from the other “perfect” examples are the inventive repairs. Unable to glue the original broken handle back on, a metalsmith in the 1800s fashioned an ornate replacement and used 2 metal staples to stabilize cracks. I find the metal handle quite pleasing, and am not at all bothered but the metal staples, which can be viewed as badminton birdies flying away.

This is what the jug looks like with its original handle intact.

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Photo courtesy of Martyn Edgell Antiques

Ceramics as seen in Crazy Rich Asians

August 26th, 2018

Last summer you may recall I spent 3 months in Malaysia and Singapore working as the set decorator on a movie called Crazy Rich Asians. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that our little movie would end up breaking box office records and become an overnight smash hit! I am thrilled with how the movie turned out and am happy to report that none of my favorite scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.

Combining my 2 passions, I try to incorporate ceramics as much as possible into my set decoration. Here are some examples of how I used ceramics to help bring the characters in Crazy Rich Asians to life, including some new make-do’s.

If you haven’t already seen Crazy Rich Asians, please go and enjoy! Be sure to look closely for these and other ceramics I’ve sprinkled throughout the movie.

Rose Medallion coffee pot, c.1890

August 12th, 2018

This bulbous form porcelain coffee pot was made in China during the Qing dynasty, circa 1850-1890. It is decorated with figures, birds, butterflies and flowers in the Rose Medallion palette, including green, pink, yellow, blue, black and gold enamels. It measures 7.25 inches high and 8 inches wide from handle to spout.

At first glance you may wonder why this seemingly “perfect” pot has made its way into my collection. But look closely and you will find a couple of large cracks on the the sides, held tightly together with the aid of 3 large metal grooved staples. It is neither exceptional nor rare, but I like it because it has kept its dignity intact after surviving a tumble well over 100 years ago.

Here’s a similar coffee pot, along with a matching sugar bowl and creamer.

Photo courtesy of Ruby Lane

Miniature Westerwald stoneware jug with silver handle, c.1750

July 29th, 2018

This tiny hand-thrown, salt glazed, baluster form stoneware jug with cobalt decoration was a mystery to me when I purchased it two years ago. I found it in Hawaii, of all places, and the dealer knew nothing about it. The unusual silver replacement handle with a hand hammered band, and what appears to be a coiled snake at the base, threw me off. These details gave off a 70s vibe – more 1970s than 1770s. After a bit of research I discovered I had a miniature Westerwald jug, made in Germany around 1750 and possibly earlier. It stands just 3.5 inches high.

Not all miniatures were made for children to play with. Some were made by potters as souvenirs, while others were made possibly as salesmen samples. As with most pieces from my collection, we will never know how the original handle broke off. But it appears that the original owner must have truly treasured this tiny tank, as it was brought to a silversmith who fashioned a splendid silver replacement handle. Thank you to the unknown artist who transformed a broken jug into a unique conversation piece that has lasted over 250 years…and counting.

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

Photo courtesy of ebay

Mocha ware mug with marbled and combed slip, c.1780

July 15th, 2018

This wonderfully graphic mug was made in England in the late 1700s. It is decorated with marbled and combed slip in shades of brown, tan, and cream, reminiscent of French marbled paper. It stands 5 inches high and has an opening diameter of 3.25 inches. The metal replacement handle, most likely made by an itinerant metalsmith in the 19th century, has developed a warm patina over the past 150+ years, which compliments the decoration nicely.

I purchased this mug at auction, along with a few other pieces, which were originally in the collection of Jonathan Rickard, renowned mocha ware expert and author of Mocha and Related Dipped Wares, 1770-1939. He says of this mug “The marbled & combed mug came from a British dealer and it originated around 1775-1782 based on wastes from the William Greatbatch excavation.” Thank you Jonathan for your devotion, thorough research, and love of all things mocha.

This mug, with similar form and decoration, suggest what the original handle on mine might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Skinner

Chinese teapot with monogram & multiple repairs, c.1780

July 1st, 2018

This globular porcelain teapot was made in China for export, possibly for the French market, during the last quarter of the Qianlong period (1711-1799.) It measures nearly 5.5 inches high and is 8.75 inches wide from handle to spout. The delicate armorial decoration on each side consists of a gilt monogram (JEM) suspended from a shield surrounded by floral garlands and ribbons. The chipped lid has a peach shaped knob and is decorated with flowers.

It appears that on more than one occasion over the past 200+ years, this fragile teapot was rushed to surgery. The multiple repairs include a silver plated replacement spout with scalloped backplate, an iron replacement handle with a pleasing green patina, and 2 metal staples securing cracks on the body. Every surface of this noble survivor bears scars, which to me, makes it even more attractive and unique.

Family platter with kintsugi gold repair

June 17th, 2018

Many years ago, Mark inherited dozens of pieces from a large earthenware dinner service made in England by Enoch Wood & Sons, c.1835-1846. The set was previously owned by his grandparents and although I assumed they liked it, everyone else in the family thought it was ugly. I am not typically a fan of multi-color transferware but I love this set, especially the Grand Tour theme, consisting of different romantic European vistas. After his grandfather passed away, it was clear that nobody wanted the dishes except for us. Before we received them, Mark’s uncle Dick extracted some of the pieces and sent one to each family member as a memento, including this small platter, which was sent to Mark’s mother Mary. Sadly, it did not make the journey from Massachusetts to Washington intact. The shattered platter sat on top of Mary’s piano for a couple of years and the next time I saw it, about a year later, a small tube of glue was sitting amongst the broken shards. After yet another year or so, I saw that an attempt had been made to repair the platter and curiously, a metal washer (!) had been inadvertently glued to the front. At this point, I had to take matters into my own hands and asked Mary if I could rescue the platter and try to repair it myself.

I had recently taken a Kintsugi class to learn the ancient Japanese method of repair using lacquer and gold, and felt this platter was a worthy candidate. I used brown urushi lacquer to join the pieces, painted over the cracks with red lacquer, and finally applied real gold dust. The bond is supposedly stronger than any known cement, epoxy or glue.

The Japanese believe in embracing imperfections and I am thrilled to have brought some dignity back to this poor platter. My next project is a HUGE meat platter from the same set which fell off the wall, shattering into dozens of pieces. I’ve got my work cut out for me so stay tuned.

Yixing teapot with elaborate silver repairs, c.1700

May 27th, 2018

This gorgeous rectangular red/brown Yixing pottery teapot was made in China, c.1700. It is decorated with 6 panels of appliqué decoration, including four-clawed dragons chasing flaming pearls amidst clouds. It measures 8 inches high, 7 inches wide, 3.75 inches deep.

Not only is the teapot itself stunning, but the elaborate replacement handle, lid and mounts are a knockout. After the original handle broke off, it was taken to a skilled silversmith who made a solid silver replacement stirrup-shaped handle with leaf mounts, along with a scalloped rim and base, spout, and a replacement lid with an ivory knob. I especially love the cutout heart at the end of the spout. The hallmark inside of the lid, W.F. over A.F. in a chamfered square, is for Fordham & Faulker (William Charles Fordham & Albert Faulkner), Orchard Works, Orchard Lane, Sheffield, UK. I have yet to research the hallmark but am looking forward to discovering the year the repair was done. Stay tuned.

I purchased this a few months ago from a dealer in the UK who said it was once in the private collection of British actress Rita Tushingham (Dr. Zhivago, etc.) Thanks, Rita for having such exquisite taste!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Woolley & Wallis