Past Imperfect: The Art of Invention – Repaired and Refigured Ceramics

Loading Events

« Calendar

  • This event has passed.

Past Imperfect: The Art of Invention – Repaired and Refigured Ceramics

December 11, 2017 - 1:15 pm - 3:00 pm

Event Navigation

Andrew Baseman, Andrew Baseman Design, New York City

Andrew Baseman’s lecture will describe the origins and materials of ceramic repairs and how they were made. Staple, aka rivet, repair was done in many cultures throughout the world, and early examples date from the 1st century AD.  This is the most common type of repair found on antique ceramics, and the most discussed. By and large, ceramics were repaired by itinerant repairers who traveled from town to town, setting up their minimal tools on the side of a road. However, the wealthy employed silversmiths, jewelers and sculptors to repair their ceramics, and examples of these rare pieces can be found in museums.

While popular for centuries, staple repair fell out of favor by the mid 20th century, with the invention of better quality glues, adhesives and epoxies. Customers could now have invisible repairs, and dealers were able to sell restored pieces not riddled with bits of metal.  However, a new and eager audience of contemporary artists seem ready to take the art of inventive repair into the 21st century. Clearly, the tide is changing as more and more artists, collectors and dealers embrace the broken and repaired, making what was once considered old and unwanted seem fresh and new.


Andrew Baseman is an author, interior designer and set decorator for film and television.  He has been collecting antique ceramics and glassware with inventive repairs for over 20 years. His interest was piqued at an early age by a pottery plate in his house that was broken in half but somehow miraculously held together with a few metal staples on the back. School field trips to museums, seeing large urns, vases and platters with numerous rivets looking a lot like Frankenstein’s monster introduced him to a larger world of repaired ceramics. Since that time, he has amassed a sizable collection of my own and writes about it in his blog, “Past Imperfect: The Art of Inventive Repair.” His collection was featured in a cover story in the New York Times and was on exhibit at Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison, New York up until October 1.

In 2003, he founded Andrew Baseman Design, Inc., an interior design firm specializing in upscale residential interiors, creating luxurious homes for film and theatrical producers, fashion designers, and others. He is the author of The Scarf, the classic illustrated art book chronicling the history of the printed scarf that reflects both his expertise and love of vintage textiles.


Chinese export porcelain blue and white teapot and repaired cover, circa 1740-60.  The original landscape decoration ‘clobbered’ (overpainted) possibly in London slightly later with a ‘Grape and Vine’ pattern; and affixed with a replacement silver spout and wood and metal handle.  Height 4 3/4 inches; length 7 1/2 inches.