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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Reconstructing a Japanese Teapot Spout

by Kelly Rectenwald, Conservator of Objects


Miss Mariko Okinawa , objects conservation , CAMConservation , teapot , Japanese Art , tea set

In our last post about the Miss Mariko Okinawa doll’s tea set, we discussed re-joining all of the tiny ceramic fragments. The teapot from the set had significant losses that we’ve now filled with a conservation grade filler which you can see as the plain white sections in the photo. Luckily, the spout, which was almost entirely missing, had one key section remaining, running from the base to the tip. This was crucial in helping us reconstruct the spout; it let us know how long the spout should be and its general shape. To ensure we got the shape right, we also looked at several similar teapots to compare spout shapes.

With the losses filled and the missing parts re-created, the final step will be to inpaint the fills to match the surrounding glaze of the teapot. Soon this teapot will once again be ready for a doll-sized tea party.

A small white teapot with blue floral decorations
Teapot: Miss Mariko Okinawa, Japan, 1927, ceramic, Gift of Committee of World Friendship Among Children, 1929.92.