Archive for the ‘anecdotal’ Category

Make-Do’s at the movies

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

As I work in the film industry as a set decorator, it’s nearly impossible for me not to scrutinize the decor when watching a movie or television series. Although it is fun to see what other decorators have done to help establish the characters, it has become a bit of a curse, as on occasion it distracts me from following the plot. As my eye wanders away from the actors and on to the set dressing seen in the background, I have spotted some interesting inventive repairs along the way.

Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker, 2019. Kintsugi helmet.

This past week I saw the latest Star Wars movie and immediately noticed a kintsugi helmet worn by Adam Driver as villain Kylo Ren. Jen Glennon writes in Inverse: “The Rise of Skywalker is finally here, bringing with it the return of Kylo Ren’s nouveau-Vader helmet, shattered during a Last Jedi tantrum. In the months leading up to the release of Episode IX, keen-eyed fans compared the visible red cracks on Kylo’s helmet to the Japanese practice of kintsugi, or mending broken objects with visible seams of gold or silver, transforming a break into a unique design element.” So glad to know that kintsugi has made its way into one of the world’s most popular movie franchises and is being seen by millions of people.


Mary Poppins Returns, 2018. Cracked Royal Doulton bowl.

After the Banks children accidentally break their mother’s beloved Royal Doulton bowl, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) takes the childern and the broken pieces to her cousin Topsy Turvey (Meryl Streep), a “woman who can fix anything,” to repair the damaged heirloom. Naturally, an elaborate song and dance involving broken antiques ensues.


The Crown, 2016. Mug with early replacement handle

During the first season of the sumptuous series The Crown, I spied with my little eye a Chinese porcelain covered mug with early metal replacement handle in Winston Churchill’s yellow-walled sitting room. The room is filled with many other pieces of antique ceramics, paintings and fine furniture. I wonder if Churchill actually owned antiques with inventive repairs or if the set decorator, Alison Harvey, added it in to help comment on the character.


The Piano, 1993. Make-do finger.

*Spoiler alert! This fantastic make-do hand prop (literally) is integral to the plot of Jane Campion’s masterful movie starring Holly Hunter as Ada McGrath. The polished silver steampunk appendage, seen at the end of the movie, allows Ada to play her beloved piano once again.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

Wishing you a SMASHING Holiday Season!

Thanksgiving dinner with stapled Canton platters

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

This past Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving in Massachusetts with Mark’s family. The table was beautifully set with 18th century blue & white Chinese porcelain and decorated with small orange gourds and bright red berries, a lovely contrast to the deep cobalt glaze.

After the meal, I was delighted to discover that the turkey was served on two large platters, each with multiple early staple repairs. These platters, along with much of the tableware, were used by Aunt Carol’s family for generations. Most impressive was that after over 250 years of use, the repairs remain watertight. Nothing makes me happier than to see antiques with inventive repairs still in use today!

Happy Labor Day 2019!

Monday, September 2nd, 2019

Happy Labor Day to all of the unsung heroes of inventive repair throughout the world!

Dog days of summer

Sunday, July 21st, 2019

As I type, the temperature has reached a scorching 94° F / 34° C , and heading upward of 97° F / 36° C. Rather than go out in the heat, I have decide to stay inside my nicely air conditioned apartment and share with you some canines with inventive repairs representing the dog days of summer.

To see the original posts, please click on each title. Enjoy! Now, stay inside and eat a popsicle.

Cold painted cast lead dog figure, c.1930

King Charles spaniel jug, c.1865

Bohemian milch glass mug, c.1750

Toy dog with replaced coat, c.1920

Welch jug with metal handle, c.1850

Happy Pride 2019!

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

A rainbow of inventive repairs…

Jim Thompson House Museum, Bangkok

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

This past December, Mark and I traveled to Southeast Asia, visiting Cambodia, Thailand, and Bangkok. All the while, I was on the lookout for inventive repairs in museums and antique shops. Although I did not find any examples for sale, I did see quite a few in museums.

Here are some examples of stapled ceramics I stumbled upon at the Jim Thompson House Museum in Bangkok, where I seemed to be the only one who noticed these large stapled beauties hiding in plain sight.

Chinese ceramics at the Frick, Pittsburgh

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

Last year while working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I sublet a house in Point Breeze, just around the corner from The Frick Pittsburgh. I immediately bought a membership and whenever possible I attended exhibits, walked the grounds, and ate in the cafe.

Last August, to coincide with the opening of Crazy Rich Asians, I posted about the ceramics I used as set dressing in the movie. I received a comment from Sarah Hall, Chief Curator, Director of Collections at the Frick, who mentioned that the collection included a pair of large peach vases, similar to ones I used in the film. Soon after, I met with Sarah and Dawn Brean, Associate Curator of Decorative Arts, to discuss an upcoming exhibit Dawn was planning and asked if I would like to write a piece about ceramics used in Crazy Rich Asians.

Flash forward 6 months and I am pleased to report that the exhibit recently opened and will be on display as a part of their permanent collection through early 2020. If you are in the area, please stop by and check out the wonderful exhibit, as well as the rest of the museum and beautiful grounds, and Clayton, the former home of Henry Clay Frick, industrialist and art collector.

Inventive repairs at the Grand Palace, Bangkok

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

This past December, Mark and I took a trip to Bangkok, Cambodia, and Laos, in search of regional culture and delicious food, but not necessarily in that order. While walking the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, I stumbled upon several large ceramic planters, each with large metal staple repairs and banding wires. I imagine only I, and the fine readers of this blog, would have noticed these make-do’s hiding in plain sight.

Rescue me, Marie Kondo!

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

Today I take you behind the scenes and into my office/research center/storage room, where the bulk of my collection of nearly 600 examples of antiques with inventive repairs is kept. As you can see, the shelves are filled to the rafters. Mind you, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Fearful of the direction I seem to be heading in, I took an online test, Hoarding Symptoms Test for Adults, and thankfully discovered that I am not in danger of becoming a hoarder. At least for now.