It isn’t unusual to see chips on your selection of china, and professional restoration can be costly. Provided that the piece is of no particular value, there exists no basis why you cannot successfully repair small chips yourself at home.
Rebuilding missing areas in china may seem a daunting task. However, a little perseverance and unfaltering hand are all the skills you need to enable you to carry out the techniques shown here.
Small chips on rims can often be rebuilt using a ‘support’ taped to the underside of the rim to hold the filler in place. (Replacing larger or intricately shaped pieces is much more difficult and requires a mould.) Before you mend a piece of china remember that many antique pieces can be devalued by home repairs. China that is of any value should always be taken to an expert.
Materials and equipment Fillers
These are used to put back the lacking area of china. In general you should always choose a filler that is slightly pliable than the material you are working on. This will allow you to rub down any excess filler not ruining the surrounding area.
These are relatively soft materials and are generally used to fill glazed earthenware or porcelain that is for decorative use only. Fine grade cellulose wall filler (such as Polyfilla) is a plaster with a cellulose filler which provides better adhesion. As these materials are mixed with water, the broken edges of the object should be brushed with water before application. This prevents any additional water being drawn into the body of the earthenware. These fillers can be smoothed down with fine abrasive papers to provide an ideal surface for painting on, or they can be tinted with dry pigments prior to application.
Epoxy glue or putty
These are harder materials and can be used on porcelain. They are available, ready-made, from hardware stores, and come in two tubes, which are then mixed together in equal quantities. You can also make your own putty or caulk by blending epoxy resin glue with whiting (powdered chalk), tale or kaolin (because koalin is grey, you may need to add titanium dioxide pigment to provide a white base). Make up the glue according to manufacturer’s instructions (add titanium dioxide if required) then mix in the powder in small quantities at a time to form a putty-like thickness. The putty can be tinted with pigments before application. Epoxy putty has a high adhesive quality, remains pliable for about an hour, during which time some basic shaping can be undertaken, and hardens within 12 hours. Despite its tough exterior the putty, once hard, can be sanded down.
Many chips can be mended using a support fixed to the back of the missing area. The filler is then pressed into the resulting space. Small chips can be backed with layers of masking tape, larger areas with Plasticine, which is taped or held in place.
Using an average to flimsy glasspaper to get rid of extra filler and finish with fine grade glasspaper (sometimes known as flour paper) or plastic-backed silicone carbide paper. Use a small piece of paper cut from the larger sheet, then fold it in half so that a single edge can be used to polish the surface. This safeguard against scratching the surrounding glaze.
For a professional finish, you will either need to tint the filler to tone with the surrounding area or paint the finished restoration.