Archive for June, 2013

Moser enameled glass pokal, c.1890

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

This tall, regal enameled amber glass pokal was made at the end of the 19th century by the esteemed glass manufacturer Moser, in Karlsbad, Austria; today known as Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. Ludwig Moser opened his first factory in 1857 and soon his artfully decorated glassware found its way into worldwide collections of presidents, popes, king, queens, and Liberace. To the best of my knowledge, this pokal, which measures 15.75 inches tall, was not owned by Liberace. As the bulk of the pokal is quite heavy, I am not surprised that at some point it broke in two, snapping off at the base. Luckily for me, an early practitioner of recycling secured the remaining unscathed upper portion of it to a sturdy brass lamp base, allowing it to be filled to the brim with beer or display an arrangement of fresh flowers.



This tall amber glass vase made by Moser has its original base intact.


Photo courtesy of Trocadero

Tiny Chinese Imari teapot, c.1700

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Though this octagonal-shaped Chinese porcelain teapot from the Kangxi period (1662-1722) appears to be a miniature, it is indeed a functioning vessel. Tea was only for the wealthy in the late 17th century; brewed in highly concentrated batches in tiny teapots and consumed in small amounts. This fine example, which stands nearly 4″ high, has cobalt blue underglaze decoration with iron red and gilt detailing. The remains of the original porcelain spout have been replaced by a much smaller silver cap, most likely in Amsterdam in the 1800s. As a precaution against loss, the lid has been shackled to the handle using a fine-link chain. This embellishment may have been added at the same time as the replacement spout.










This nearly identical teapot with the same form, size and decoration as mine shows what the original spout looked like before the addition of the silver replacement.

imari teapot

Photo courtesy of Pater Gratia Oriental Art

Making make-do’s in Eastfield Village

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Yesterday I learned how to make replacement handles for broken vessels from Don Carpentier, the visionary behind Eastfield Village and master of all trades. Last year at Dish Camp, the annual “POTpourri” ceramics conference where I presented examples from my own collection, I mentioned that I would like to learn the craft of early repair. Don assured me that making tin replacement handles was easy and that he could teach me all I needed to know in one afternoon. Flash forward one year, I find myself in Don’s workshop Period Make-Do’s and How to Reproduce Them, learning how to cut, bend and solder tin.

I urge anyone with an interest in learning traditional trades and domestic arts to visit Eastfield Village and attend a workshop this summer. Please take a look at my post from Dish Camp 2012, which shows some of the historic buildings and links to Don’s site.

This is the finished product. I am in awe of the handle and buttress Don effortlessly created, identical to the ones made by itinerant tinkers in the 18th through 20th century in North American and Europe. The broken mocha ware jug was given to me by my mother who had kept it in her cupboard for many years, knowing that even with a missing handle and large crack, it was too good to throw out.


Within seconds, Don drew a sketch of the proposed replacement handle, showing the placement of the 2 horizontal bands and the 4 vertical supports.

Image 1

After scribing a piece of tin, I carefully snip one of the 2 support bands.

Image 2

Don attaches the lower horizontal band, bending and locking the 2 ends together.

Image 3

I am placing the 4 vertical bands and marking them for Don.

Image 4

Don is soldiering the first vertical band.

Image 5

Using an original tin crimping machine from the mid 1800s, Don is embedding wire in the handle edge, which provides extra support.

Image 6

The handle is being bent and formed.

Image 7

Don has a remarkable eye and in very little time, has cut out a tiny piece at the top of the broken handle stub to allow for the new handle to fit snugly in place.

Image 8

By the 1800s, tinkers added embellishments such as thumb rests. Don thought it would be a good addition, as do I.

Image 9

Unable to drill through the body of the jug for fear of leaking contents, tinkers attached handles to whatever was left of the broken handles. Don snipped out the center part of the lower handle, leaving enough of the tin-encased wire to bend around the remains of the lower handle stub and solder to the lower support band.

Image 10

Photos courtesy of Mark Randall

Cut crystal compote, c.1900

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Sometime around 1920, an elegant 8″ tall crystal compote slipped out of the hands of a nervous hostess as she was serving stewed rhubarb to a dinner guest. The sudden drop to the floor not only embarrassed the hostess and stained the Persian carpet below, but also snapped the cherished heirloom in half. Luckily, her slightly annoyed but handy husband snatched up the broken diamond-cut decorated bowl and attached it to a recently discarded large wooden spool. Seeing that the marriage of crystal and wood needed further embellishment, he gilded the spool to help jazz it up. The now slightly less nervous hostess was able to enjoy the newly restored compote again, but from then on filled it only with butter mints…just to be safe.





This quartet of compotes shows a variety of original glass bases; perhaps one of which looked like mine.


Photo courtesy of Laurel Leaf Farm