Broken China -  Breaking a piece of china can be an annoying experience if you can't buy a replacement, or if it has a special sentimental value. Fortunately, you can repair or restore most broken china without too much difficulty. The keys to success are patience and extreme care, paying particular attention to keeping the china clean throughout the process. No expensive equipment is required most repairs can be carried out with items found around your home, such as nail-polish remover, epoxy resin, sticky tape and Plasticine.

 

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Chatelaine's Antiques and Appraisals Magazine > Decorative Arts > Ceramics > Repairing Broken China
 


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Broken China


REPAIRING BROKEN CHINA
3

 Next time you smash a favourite piece of china, don't condemn it to the bin - a little care and a lot of patience can bring it back to life.

 Breaking a piece of china can be an annoying experience if you can't buy a replacement, or if it has a special sentimental value. Fortunately, you can repair or restore most broken china without too much difficulty. The keys to success are patience and extreme care, paying particular attention to keeping the china clean throughout the process. No expensive equipment is required most repairs can be carried out with items found around your home, such as nail-polish remover, epoxy resin, sticky tape and Plasticine.

 If you have very valuable pieces it is not a good idea to repair these yourself. Take the broken item to an antiques shop and ask their advice.

 It is best to repair the break or chip in your china as soon you can, while the edges are still clean. If this isn't possible, put the pieces carefully away in a box or plastic bag (wrapping each piece separately in tissue paper) until you are able to carry out the repair.

EPOXY RESIN

 The best adhesive to use for repairing china is the type that has two elements - an epoxy resin that you mix with an accompanying hardener to give a strong, heat-proof bond. The two should be mixed together in equal amounts. When mixed the adhesive looks yellowish, so in most cases you will need to add a little titanium dioxide or talcum powder to whiten it so that it blends in with the china.

 When you first use the adhesive, only mix up a small amount as you will find you are fairly slow on the first repair, and may not finish before the resin has begun to harden. At a room temperature of 18-24C / 64-75F the mixture will remain usable for about two hours. Quick-setting epoxy resins are also available, but these are not recommended unless you become expert at assembling pieces with speed and precision.

 Both the surfaces to be bonded together should be cleaned with acetone (nail-polish remover), before you apply a tiny amount of adhesive to each, carefully following the instructions on the adhesive's container. Applying too much glue will make a very messy repair, as the adhesive will ooze out and then set hard, leaving a very obvious and ugly join.

 Where you are regluing old breaks, the old glue must be removed first. To loosen the glue you can either soak the china in very hot water for 20 minutes or bake it in a warm oven for about 30 minutes. Remove the loosened glue with a clean cloth.

 When repairing china always work in the daytime and preferably next to a window - you need to be able to spot the tiniest spot of glue going astray. The room temperature should be fairly warm, to allow the adhesive to run freely then set quickly on the repair; glue is slow to set in the cold.

PLAN THE REPAIR

 Perhaps the most important advice is to plan your work carefully before you begin and make sure all the necessary tools and materials are to hand. Work at a clean, firm table or bench, which can be left undisturbed until the repairs are completed. Put down plenty of clean newspaper around the work-table to protect surfaces, and make sure the area is kept free of dust.

 Once the china has been repaired, place it in a secure support where it can be left untouched while the adhesive sets - it can take up to three days to reach full strength. The instructions with the adhesive should tell you the correct length of time required.

GLUING A SIMPLE BREAK

 1 Give the broken pieces a thorough wash in a plastic bowl of warm water and mild household detergent. Rinse. When they are dry, dean along the broken edges with acetone.

 2 If the plate was broken some time ago, slightly roughen the broken edges to provide a good 'key' for the repair, by carefully filing across the breaks with a steel nail file.

 3 At this stage, check that the pieces fit neatly together and that there are not deep chips, pieces missing or holes that need filling.  Fit the pieces together on a  clean surface.

 4 Mix equal parts of epoxy resin and hardener on a file, adding enough titanium dioxide to whiten. Apply thin coats of adhesive on a cocktail stick to each edge. Press pieces together.

 5 Remove surplus adhesive with a razor. Fine sand makes a firm support for vertical items. Wedge the repair and leave for three days. Rub any ridges with wet and dry paper.

 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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