Is It Possible to Fix Broken China?

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Is It Possible to Fix Broken China?

It is always frustrating when that favorite piece of vintage china breaks or cracks. The moment a Royal Doulton plate hits the floor, or grandma's fine china teacup comes out of the dishwasher with a crack is a heartbreaker. However, it is possible to fix broken china using a range of techniques, tools, and strong epoxies. Many people are able to perform basic repairs on their cracked or broken china using commercially available epoxies and power tools. Broken china is usually cleaned and glued back together. Cracked china is repaired in a number of ways from filling the cracks to bathing the china in simmering milk. People can even send their damaged china to professional restoration services to get high quality repairs made. To buy the equipment needed to repair broken china at home, check out hardware stores, art supply stores, manufacturers, online restoration sites, and product selling sites like eBay.


Repairing Broken China

Even china that has been smashed to bits can be glued back together if the person working with it has the patience and all the pieces. Luckily, most people do not need to make repairs of this nature to their china. Dropped and broken plates usually break into one or two large pieces. Repairing the broken china is a matter of using epoxy adhesive to put the breaks back together. People should take care when using commercially available adhesives to repair china. These adhesives are usually toxic, so a repaired piece can only be used for display because it is no longer food safe.

After gathering up the broken pieces, clean the edges to remove any dirt from the exposed surface. Allow the pieces to dry completely. Use a cotton swab to apply the epoxy to one broken edge. Press the other broken piece of the plate to the edge with the adhesive. Secure in place. Allow the adhesive to dry. It takes up to 24 hours for the adhesive to dry. Wait until the adhesive is completely dry before gluing the next piece of the plate into place.

Holding Broken Pieces in Place

It is important to find a consistent technique for securing broken china. Holding two pieces together by hand is not a good method when the adhesive takes 24 hours to dry. There are many methods for securing two pieces of broken china together while the adhesive sets.
 

Method

Material

Description

Sand holder

Sand; clothespins

Bury one piece half way into the sand with broken side up; secure other piece to it with clothespins

Securing clamps

Spring clamps

Secure two pieces together with spring clamps

Modeling clay

Modeling clay

Mold the soft clay around the plate where the two pieces connect on either side of the crack


It is best to use whatever technique is preferred. Each of these works well, but the most important thing is to ensure that the pieces are properly aligned.
 

Fixing Cracks in China

When a piece of china does not break but only develops a crack, there are several options for repairing it. Some of these techniques only provide a cosmetic repair and do not really make the plate stronger. Others are more involved, but do help restore the plate to its former strength and natural appearance.

Filling with Epoxy

A quick cosmetic technique that most people can do at home involves filling the crack with filler epoxy. This material is useful for cracks that go deep into the ceramic or porcelain of a piece of china. It also acts as a filler to smooth out any small chips or gaps resulting from the crack. The excess filler is scraped away from the line and left to dry overnight. The filler is sanded until smooth with the surrounding surface. Top this with cold glaze and allow it to sit for 12 hours, or until hard. China repaired using this method is no longer food safe.

Putting in a Peg

The peg technique is used on pieces with long, deep cracks. This technique involves more skill, but it is possible to do at home with the right ceramic repair supplies. It is not a technique that can easily be used with thin, fine, or bone china. Use a rotary tool to grind a small channel perpendicular across the top of the crack, about an inch from the outer edge of the piece of china. Cut a piece of copper metal wire (12-gauge works for heavier pieces) to just smaller than the length of the groove. Use a smaller gauge for thinner pieces of china.

Rub the wire with a wire brush, or piece of large grit sandpaper to texture it. Clean all surfaces with alcohol and allow to dry completely. Place the copper wire in the groove, and secure with an epoxy adhesive. Wipe away the excess epoxy. Allow the adhesive to dry for 24 hours.

Fill in the groove and the hairline crack with filler epoxy. Allow the epoxy to dry for 24 hours. Sand away the excess. Cover any gaps or dips with a fine grade epoxy filler. Cure for 24 hours. Sand away the excess. Apply the cold glaze and allow to cure. Note that china repaired using this method is no longer food safe either.

Milk Method

The simplest method of repairing cracked china is the milk method. This is a technique that works for small cracks and glaze cracks. Even the average person can try this technique in an attempt to restore china to its former beauty. Plus, using the milk method means that pieces are still food safe after the repair.

Place the piece in a pot with two cups of milk, or more if needed to cover the piece. Heat the milk on low, just barely simmering, for about an hour. Turn off the temperature and allow the milk to cool. Rinse the piece off. The milk should have bonded with the cracks to help seal them.


Hiring a Professional Restorer

If the piece is heavily cracked or broken into a lot of pieces, it may be a good idea to send it to a professional restorer. These professionals have the necessary space, tools, and time to fix multiple pieces. People can take their pieces to local restorers or they can send pieces to restorers through the mail. These restorers usually allow potential customers to get an online estimate or fill out a request form to get an estimate back through their email or over the phone.

This helps people determine if the cost of professional restoration is worth the price. These technicians are very busy, so it can take up to a few months to get the restored piece back after sending it in. Restorers also provide different levels of service from the bare minimum to the best professional restoration. Higher quality services include UV testing, shade matching for repainting designs, and non-yellowing epoxy coatings to finish.


Buying Tools to Repair China on eBay

You can buy the tools and supplies to repair china on eBay and also find repaired pieces on the auction site too. When searching for supplies or china pieces, you might want to use the search engine to find your needed products faster. This tool is available from any page on the website. All you need to do is enter your search term and go. The search term can be as specific or general as you like and eBay can still use it to find listings. For instance, search for "Pebeo paints" for porcelain and glass, or search for "damaged china" to repair.

Local Sellers

When looking for repaired china on eBay you might want to purchase from local sellers. This cuts down on the travel time for each piece, and also makes it less expensive to ship. If you live close enough, you may be able to convince the seller to meet up in person to exchange the item. Local sellers can be found using the "Distance" refinement on the search results page. Enter your zip code, and select the search radius you want to use to narrow down listings. The site updates the results to show those within your search radius.


Conclusion

Broken china absolutely can be repaired. It does not matter if the china has a long, deep crack across the middle or if the china is in a million pieces. Working on the pieces at home is possible, and people can also send their broken china in to professional restorers to complete the job. Cracks in china can be filled in with epoxy, made stronger with copper wire, and even small cracks can be cured with hot milk. Broken pieces of china are usually cleaned and glued back together using a strong epoxy adhesive.

These fixes all work to restore china to a like-new appearance. Of course, the restorations look better when using professional restorers with more skill. Anyone fixing their broken china should be aware that these fixes usually mean that china is no longer safe for food. Many of the commercially available supplies are toxic to humans. Those who want to try fixing their broken china at home can use supplies and tools found on the auction site, eBay.

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