BROKEN CHINA 5
When a large china object smashes into a number of bits, it requires
time and patience to effect a good repair.
It happens to everyone. A vase or a plate crashes to the floor and smashes
into several pieces. If it is worth saving and you feel ready to tackle the
repair, gather up the pieces and store them carefully until you have collected
together all the repair materials you will need.
Pieces need to be clean, especially around the broken edges, before
applying the glue. Wash them with soapy water, using a cotton swab for small
areas and sheets of white kitchen towel for larger surfaces. Don't let the
pieces soak, or water will seep into the porous body and it will take a long
time for them to dry. Remove any stubborn dirt by rubbing it with acetone (nail
polish remover) or cellulose paint thinner. Rinse and dry the pieces well.
If glazing cracks on the surface are still dirty, dip the pieces in a
solution of three parts water to one part baby bottle sterilizing fluid. On no
account use household bleach, as this can damage the glaze and decoration.
Before applying any glue, arrange the pieces so you can see how they
fit together and can check that no large pieces are in missing. It may help to
number pieces with an erasable marker, so you know the best order in which to stick
It is often a good idea to glue together a number of the smaller
pieces to make up two or three larger pieces that can then be glued in their
final position. However, it is important all the gluing is done at the same
time, so you can adjust the pieces before the glue sets hard. Mix your slow setting,
two-part adhesive on a tile or plate, adding a pinch of titanium white powdered
pigment if you are mending white pottery. For other shades of pottery, such as
terracotta, mix in an appropriate dark shade of pigment.
Using a wooden toothpick, apply a light coat of glue to both edges of
the break. Press the pieces together. While the glue is still wet, use lighter
fuel or acetone on a cotton swab to remove any excess glue. Use strips of
masking tape, at right angles over the crack, to hold the glued pieces
Once the job is complete, allow the glue to harden for at least 24
hours. If need be, support the piece until the glue has hardened; a draining
rack is ideal for supporting a broken plate and other objects can be supported
in a bowl of fine sand.
Carefully shave off any surplus glue with a single-edged razor, making
sure you don't damage the glaze or any painted decoration.
TRICKS OF THE TRADE
• A small missing piece can be replaced with a suitable
filler. Mix some two-part glue and tint it with pigment to match the glaze. Add
in some talc, blending it until the mixture acquires the consistency of cloy.
With your fingers or a palette knife, press the filler into the hole, moulding
it to the contours of the surrounding area. When the glue has set hard, shape
it exactly with a needle file and garnet paper.
• Larger missing pieces can sometimes be replaced by taking a mould in
high quality modelling clay from a perfect area. Transfer the mould to the
damaged area and build up filler to the right shape. Leave the glue to set
hard, then remove the mould.
WHAT YOU NEED
• Mild household detergent
• Cotton swabs
• Paper towels
• Plastic bowl
• Clean, lint-free drying cloth
• Acetone or cellulose paint thinner
• Baby bottle sterlizing fluid
• Epoxy resin and hardener
• Powdered pigment
• Ceramic tile or old plate
• Wooden cocktail sticks
• Masking tape
• Single-edged razor blade
Read articles and references: Good standards are Warman's
English & Continental Pottery & Porcelain (Susan and Al Bagdade),
& Monograms on European and Oriental Pottery and Porcelain (William Chaffers).