Glass petal pattern goblet with metal base, c.1800s

November 19th, 2023

Unfortunately, I have broken my share of wine glasses over the years. Unlike my shattered goblets, which were immediately tossed out, this scrappy survivor has lasted for well over a century and was reborn with the aid of an inventive repair.

This small cut glass petal pattern goblet stands 4 inches high. It was most likely made in the UK in the 1800s. Once tall and elegantly proportioned, with a slender glass stem and base, it is now squat and sports a metal tinker-made witch’s hat replacement base. I much prefer this ugly duckling goblet to a “perfect” one and if you are a fan of this blog, I bet you do, too.

This intact example suggests what the original stem and base on my goblet might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Corning Museum of Glass

Bristol teapot with Meissen mark, c.1775

September 9th, 2023

This globular form porcelain teapot has flipped its lid. It was made in Bristol, England in the third quarter of the eighteenth century and stands 4.5 inches high. It is decorated with pink, green, yellow, and orange flowers and has a pseudo-Meissen blue crossed swords mark on the underside.

In addition to its missing lid, the original handle was replaced over 150 years ago with an ear shaped metal replacement with thumb rest. If only the tinker who made the replacement handle fashioned a replacement lid as well, I’d have a double make-do.

This example suggests what the original handle and lid might have looked like on my teapot.

Photo courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

July 6th, 2023

Look what I’ve stumbled upon at one of my favorite museums in London…quite a bit of ceramics, even some with early repairs, and a wonderful exhibit by ceramic artist extraordinaire Bouke de Vries.

German faience pewter mounted jug, c.1790

January 8th, 2023

This baluster form earthenware faience covered jug with a pewter lid was made in Germany at the end of the 18th century. It has tin glaze floral decoration with blue, pink, and green enamels over a white ground and measures 8.25 inches high. 

Well over 150 years ago, the jug must have dropped, resulting in a broken handle and a large missing chunk along the rim. Luckily for me and all others who like early repairs, the broken vessel was brought to a metalsmith who created a stunted but functional pewter replacement handle, along with a lead patch to fill in the chip. Although most pieces like this are unsigned, the number 80 is written in pencil on the underside, as well as an incised scribble I can’t decipher.

This jug with similar form suggests what the original loop handle on my jug would have looked like.

Photo courtesy of eBay

Small mug with lattice & floral decoration, c.1780

December 4th, 2022

This small cylindrical porcelain mug is decorated with polychrome enamels in the Famille Rose palette with floral sprays and a lattice and scroll border at top and bottom. It was made in China for export during the latter part of the Qianlong period (1736–1795) and stands 4.25 inches high.

After the original handle broke off, it was most likely taken to a tinker who fashioned this sturdy metal replacement handle with 2 support straps. Judging by the numerous chips and cracks in the body, this little mug has survived quite a bit of abuse. I’m glad it wasn’t thrown away long ago for not being perfect.

This mug with similar form and decoration suggests what the handle on my intact mug might have looked like before it took a tumble.

Photo courtesy of Chairish

Sweetheart EAPG whale oil lamp, c.1850

November 27th, 2022

This EAPG (Early American Pattern Glass) flint glass oil lamp with the Sweetheart pattern was made in America at the Boston & Sandwich Glass Co., Boston, Massachusetts, in the mid 1800s. It stands 8.5 inches high.

As oil lamps were used daily throughout the house for centuries, it’s not surprising that they are one of the most common types of inventive repair. Since I started collecting make-do’s, I have come across a variety of clever repairs in wood, metal and glass. This lamp sports a straightforward 4 inch square wood replacement base with inlaid trim, most likely done at home. I have many unique glass oil lamps in my collection so please enter GLASS OIL LAMP in the search bar if you want to see more examples.

This intact example suggests what the original base on my lamp might have looked like before ol’ butterfingers let it slip.

Photo courtesy of eBay

Teddy bear with poignant repairs, c.1920

November 20th, 2022

What a sad bear! I can only imagine the unbearable indignities poor Teddy endured under the “care” of his previous owners. And yet with all of the damage, some of it literally worn on his sleeve, he has prevailed and now sits atop his own make-do high chair. 

I purchased the bear many years ago from an antiques dealer who had a large collection of antiques with inventive repairs, including toys – one of my favorite subcategories. Teddy, or perhaps Theodora(?), originally wore a faded pink cotton dress to help cover multiple battle scars. But now he can bare all and proudly show the many different mends done over the past 100 years. I particularly like the indigo blue with white polka dot patterned fabric patches on a paw and foot.

The doll high chair was found in Mark’s family home in Vermont and repaired by his grandfather when one of the front leg became damaged. T. Bear seems quite comfortable now, although still hanging by a thread in many places, and can finally relax knowing the abuse is over.

Black salt glazed teapot with metal handle, c.1830

November 13th, 2022

This black basalt (aka Egyptian black or shining black ) stoneware low form collared teapot was make in England in the early 1800s. It has elegant engine turned banding decoration and measures 3.5 inches high, 9.5 inches from handle to spout.

Early in its life, the original handle broke off and was replaced with a metal “tinker” replacement. I like how it has taken on a dark patina over the past 150+ years, nearly matching the dark glaze of the teapot. The lid also took a tumble at a later time and was glued back together, suggesting that the break/repair was done more recently. I wish staples/rivets were used to repair it but that’s a bit selfish of me, I know.

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

Photo courtesy of Ebay

Inventive repairs at the V&A Museum

November 6th, 2022

This past weekend I was in London and once again found myself on the 4th floor of the Victoria & Albert Museum gawking at their stunning, and seemingly endless, collection of world-class ceramics. During each visit I find more examples of inventive repairs hiding in plain sight. Here are just a few of my favorites.

Ceramics at the Hungarian National Museum

October 23rd, 2022

I recently arrived in Budapest, Hungary, where I will be based for the next 6 months to work on a new Netflix series. Having a hunch that I would find many a make-do in Budapest, I hightailed it to the Hungarian National Museum and found some wonderful repaired examples hiding in plain sight among their “perfect” peers. Here are some of my favorites.