Repairing broken China - When a large china object smashes into a number of bits, it requires time and patience to effect a good repair.


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Broken China


 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 them together.

 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 together.

 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.


  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.


  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), and Marks & Monograms on European and Oriental Pottery and Porcelain (William Chaffers).


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Warman's English & Continental Pottery & Porcelain (3rd Ed)
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Marks & Monograms on European and Oriental Pottery and Porcelain
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