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

Small Sunderland jug “Great Australia”, c.1865

May 20th, 2018

This small Dutch shape pearlware pottery Sunderland jug, commemorating the sailing ship “Great Australia”, stands 6.25 inches high. It was made in Sunderland, UK, c.1860-1870 and has pink lustre and dark red transfer decoration with over washes of yellow, green, and blue. The other side has the verse: “From rocks and sands and barren land. Kind fortune keep me free. And from great guns and woman’s tongues, Good Lord deliver me.” A nice sentiment, although not quite politically correct.

A tinker in the 19th century created the metal replacement handle with finger grip and a wide horizontal band, replacing the original broken pottery handle.

I purchased this jug and a medium size one from a London dealer earlier this year. Along with a large jug I purchased many years ago from a different dealer in London, I now have a trio of graduating size jugs, each with similar decoration and metal replacement handles. Take a look at the other two: Large Sunderland jug, c.1855Medium Sunderland jug “Great Australia”, c.1865. I promise one day to snap a photo of all three jugs together.

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

Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mocha ware mug with seaweed & rouletted decoration, c.1800

April 29th, 2018

This mocha ware mug was made in England, c.1800. It is lavishly decorated with two bands of brown slip, “seaweed” decoration, and rouletted patterns at the top and middle. It stands nearly 6 inches high.

Strange that even with the sustained damage, which occurred over 100 years ago, the original strap handle with foliate terminals remains intact. The multiple fractures were stabilized by a tinker in the 1800s by adding two metal bands around the top and middle section. The mug no longer holds liquids as it once did, but remains a staunch symbol of survival.

I was thrilled to add this beauty, once owned by author Jonathan Rickard, to my collection. Jonathan writes: “The quart mocha mug came from a Rhode Island dealer whose name escapes me. It was at the Tolland, Connecticut annual show perhaps ten years ago. Like most dipped wares, it will remain anonymous regarding its maker.” Thank you Jonathan, the Rhode Island dealer, and all of the other previous owners for saving this wonderful mug from the trash heap.

Chinese teapot with wicker handle, c.1760

April 22nd, 2018

This globular form porcelain teapot was made in China, c.1750-1770, where it was decorated with flowers and leaves in blue under glaze. Soon after it was exported to the Netherlands, ceramics with simple blue and white decoration fell out of favor, and more colorful designs were the new trend. To keep up with the demand, this teapot was overpainted with birds and flowers in red, green, black, and gold enamels. Amsterdams Bont (colorful [work] from Amsterdam) is the term used to describe this form of decoration. Pieces with overpainted decoration done in England at around the same time are referred to as being clobbered. Teapot measures 4.75 inches high, 6.5 inches from handle to spout.

As if the skittish overpainted decoration isn’t enough for me, this teapot has an unusual woven wicker replacement handle and straps, which make it a grand slam. I have only come across a handful of entirely woven repairs/replacements, which were most likely done by basket makers, rather than tinkers or jewelers. Take a look at these other examples with similarly woven handles: Large jug with woven handle, c.1820 and Pearlware blue & white cream jug, c.1820.

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

Photo courtesy of M. Ford Creech

Revive, Remix, Respond at The Frick Pittsburgh

April 15th, 2018

Last weekend I attended the exhibit Revive, Remix, Respond: Contemporary Ceramic Artists and The Frick Pittsburgh. It was curated by Associate Curator of Decorative Arts, Dawn Brean and included works by Bouke de Vries, Stephen Bowers, Steven Young Lee, and Paul Scott.

The exhibit features work by 19 artists responding to pieces in the Frick Pittsburgh’s collection. Here are a few examples by ceramic artists who embrace the art of inventive repair or repurposing.

Bouke de Vries

Steven Young Lee

Stephen Bowers

Chinese tea canister, c.1700

April 8th, 2018

This porcelain tea canister is simply stunning. It was made in China during the Kangxi period (1662-1722) and is decorated with blue underglaze enamel depicting mountainous landscapes on both sides. The ends are painted with flowers among jagged rocks. It measures 4.75 inches high, 3 inches wide, 2 inches deep.

It is unusual to find tea canisters with their original lids so I am not surprised that this one has a metal replacement. Then again, if it had its original lid I would not have bought it! Having seen dozens of tea canisters with replacement lids made from various materials including silver, tin, and wood, I find this simple cylindrical bronze replacement the perfect topper.

This tea canister with similar form and decorations shows what the original lid might have looked like on mine.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Happy Easter & Passover!

April 1st, 2018

A few staples should take care of that.

Mocha ware jug with wavy slip decoration, c.1830

March 25th, 2018

This pearlware pottery jug is decorated with cream colored wavy parallel white slip lines and dots on wide blue bands. It was most likely made in England, circa 1830. It stands 7 inches high and is 9.5 inches from handle to spout.

Many things make this jug special, including the free spirit decoration and the wonderful tin replacement handle with thumb and finger grips. An added bonus is that it was once owned by the Master of Mocha, Jonathan Rickard, who purchased it in New Hampshire about 8 years ago. Jonathan wrote Mocha and Related Dipped Wares, 1770-1939, the preeminent book on the subject. I was fortunate to buy 4 pieces from his renowned collection and will post the remaining 3 in the coming months.

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

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Brass kerosene oil lamp, c.1900

March 18th, 2018

This small kerosene oil lamp has a brass reservoir joined to a square metal base using a hand carved wood conical stem. I found it in a small New England antiques shop a few years ago and although it is unmarked, I believe it to be American. It stands 8.75 inches tall and the base measures nearly 4 inches square.

Lamps such as this were commonly used worldwide, from the mid 1800s through the mid 1900s. They were sturdy and made to last so I am puzzled by what caused this one to become unhinged. The replacement stem appears to be a home made job, and although practical, it is less than elegant.

This brass oil lamp with similar form has all of its parts and shows what the original base on mine might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Ruby Lane