This vase by Tatsuzō Shimaoka (1919 – 2007) came to Miller Fenwood after it had suffered an accidental fall and had shattered into many pieces. The restoration was a slow and meticulous process where we built from the base up, allowing the pieces to set before continuing. This building-in-stages process was carried out over several months. This did not, however, fix the areas where shards and many small pieces were missing. We used a sculptor’s compound to fill-in the lost areas, and a glass epoxy to give them a smooth finish. Contrasting colors were then touched-up with an egg tempera paint to marry the lost areas to the original. A final coat of varnish gave it a gloss to emulate the pottery surface.
Tatsuzō Shimaoka was one of the most decorated Japanese potters; his honors include being designated a “living national treasure,” and he was also a recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun. His work was described as “mingei,” meaning “craft of the people,” which stressed a belief that the quality of the art would match the quality of the maker. His style used restrained and austere elements, with delicate brushwork motifs, especially in his painted roundels. His work can be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.