When I’m not making plans to offer fast food to the Harris hawk, it’s time to get ready for the next big Triffid Ranch show: FenCon this September. With that comes the advantage of doing live shows over mail order. Namely. being able to bypass the insanity of the US Post Office. Yes, Triffid Ranch Nepenthes may be a little more expensive than ones ordered from another nursery. However, they’re also going to be much larger than is practical or sane to ship, especially in the summer, and they’re going to come with pots that will damage your fragile little mind.
For instance, check out this puppy, recently snagged at an estate sale. Deliberately fake Maya and Olmec pots of this sort were standard tourist fare throughout the Sixties and Seventies, and there was a time circa 1981 where it seemed nearly impossible to find a house in North Texas that didn’t have an authentic fake figure pot from Texcoco in it. Maybe I remembered it differently, but they seemed to be as common in Texas houses as anniversary clocks further north, and in the same spot of honor atop the monster console television in the living room. Then, with no warning, they all disappeared from the land, without so much as a sighting or two in garage sales to mark the passing of a long-running fad.
I’ll state from the beginning that I’m a sucker for well-done fabricated artifacts, so long as I know from the beginning that it’s a modern fabrication, and this one has its merits. As can be noticed from the photos, though, this figure was damaged a few times before it ended up in the estate sale. The front cup, which is the perfect size for a succulent such as a Stapelia, was cracked at least twice in its life. The first time, the part was glued back in. The second time, a big chip came off and was lost. In order to be usable again, it needs restoration. And herein lies the dilemma.
Over the past few years, I’ve noted a decided change in the presentation of restored archaeological and palaeontological treasures. Until the late Eighties, the idea was to make the restoration match the new material as much as possible, to the point where telling bone from plaster was nearly impossible without X-rays. Now, though, I’m seeing a trend toward making sure the general public understands how much of a piece was reconstructed after discovery, with obvious white or grey patches to fill in for missing material. Since I’m also a sucker for modern museum displays, do I patch the spot so that nobody can tell where clay ends and Milliput begins, or does this repair beg to make the final piece look as if it were “borrowed” from a friendly museum prior to its appearance in a plant show? Questions, questions.