I’ve been meaning to attend a Fixers Collective meeting at Proteus Gowanus for a long time now, and I finally went a few weeks ago. I knew it was going to be good when I spotted this repair outside of the gallery.
Photos of my first sock darning experience coming soon.
Jessica sent me these beautiful photos of Japanese ceramics repaired with gold. They’re from the Freer+Sackler galleries, where she used to work.
Filed under: ceramic | Tags: broken, decreated, fractured, glued, reconstructed, restored, shattered, smashed
Susan Sontag’s novel, “The Volcano Lover”, contains an account of the vandalism, restoration, and re-restoration of the Portland Vase:
“One February mid-afternoon in 1845, a young man of nineteen entered the British Museum, went directly to the unguarded room where the Portland Vase, one of the museum’s most valuable and celebrated holdings since its deposit on loan by the Fourth Duke of Portland in 1810, was kept in a glass case, picked up what was later described as ‘a curiosity in sculpture,’ and started beating the vase to death. The vase broke, fractured, shattered, was decreated. The young man whistled softly and sat down in front of the heap to admire his handiwork. Guards arrived at a run.
“The constables were summoned and the young man was taken to the Bow Street Police Station, where he gave a false name and address; the director of the museum set out to break the unpleasant news to the duke; the curators went to their knees to gather up all the little pieces. Careful not to miss any! …
“… the vase, in one hundred and eighty-nine pieces on a table in the museum’s basement, being examined with tweezers and loupe, was put back together by one intrepid, skillful employee and assistant in seven months.
“Can something shattered, then expertly repaired, be the same, the same as it was? Yes, to the eye, yes, if one doesn’t look closely. No, to the mind.
“Back inside its glass case, this new vase, neither replica nor original, was enough like its former incarnation that no visitors to the museum observed it had been broken and restored unless it was pointed out to them. A perfect job of reconstruction, for the time. Until time wears it out. Transparent glue yellows and bulges, making seamless joints visible. The jeopardous decision to attempt a better reconstruction of the vase was made in 1989. First, it had to be restored to its shattered condition. A team of experts immersed the vase in a desiccating solvent to soften the old adhesive, peeled off the one hundred and eighty-nine fragments one by one, washed each in a solution of warm water and non-ionic soap, and reassembled them with a new adhesive, which hardens naturally, and resin, which can be cured with ultraviolet light in thirty seconds. The work, checked by electron microscope and photographed at every stage, took nine months. The result is optimal. The vase will last forever, now. Well, at least another hundred years.”
This is a description of two repairs from The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck:
“He stayed in his house and while the woman mended and sewed he took his rakes of split bamboo and examined them, and where the string was broken he wove in new string made of hemp he grew himself, and where a prong was broken out he drove in cleverly new bits of bamboo. And what he did for the farm implements, his wife, O-lan, did for the house implements. If an earthen jar leaked she did not, as other women did, cast it aside and talk of a new one. Instead she mixed earth and clay and welded the crack and heated it slowly and it was as good as new.”
“My mother found this lamp for me at a church yard sale a few weeks ago. While moving into my new apartment I knocked it over, breaking it into a few big pieces and lots of little shards. Luckily I was able to puzzle-piece it back together with a new lightbulb and some superglue. Now it lights the room just fine.” – Lily Mooney
“I will never drink from this teacup again.” – Sarah Granett