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

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