We've all felt that horrible sensation in the pit of our stomach when a treasured piece of china crashes onto the floor. Did it break? How badly is it broken? Can we salvage it at all?
Whether the damaged item is a cherished antique Blue Delft vase or an antique Belgian dining chair, it can be difficult to decide how to proceed. Some repair or restoration projects are do-it-yourself in nature, while others perhaps should be left to a professional.
As you might imagine, we do quite a bit of repair and restoration work around here. Not every item that arrives in a shipping container from Europe survives the trip unscathed. Thankfully, we have Greg's mother, Kathy, to perform expert repairs and restoration on items that need tending. By the way, if you ever have a question as to whether we've repaired or restored an item in our inventory, please don't hesitate to ask. Usually, we tell you right in the description, but I'm never offended by questions!
Because 'tis the season when glass and china items get dropped, knocked off the shelf, or otherwise broken, I asked Kathy for some tips on how to decide when to use a professional restorer. We focused on ceramic items because Kathy is a certified expert in fine ceramics restoration, as you can tell from this photo!
The value of an object after restoration should be the same as it was before the object was broken. If the cost of repairs will be significantly more than the item is worth, you might want to try repairing it yourself. Obviously, you wouldn't want to professionally restore a $2 coffee mug. And sometimes you can go on Replacements.com to find china pieces for a fraction of the cost of a professional restoration.
You may feel an heirloom item is worth professional restoration, regardless of the cost. That's OK. If you have a piece you want to continue to pass down through the generations, and if you can afford the cost to have it restored, then why not do it?
Most professionally restored ceramics cannot be soaked or washed in a dishwasher. This means a repaired object must be relegated to decorative status. If you've broken a utilitarian piece, such as a dinner plate, you may want to check other sources for a replacement rather than trying to repair the piece. If, on the other hand, the broken object is a vase, you may wish to proceed with the repair even though you know you won't be able to display fresh-cut flowers in it anymore.
A truly skilled restorer can make a broken piece look new again, but this expertise comes at a price. You should also take into account these factors that can increase the cost of any professional ceramics restoration:
It's also worth noting that Royal Doulton and Dux items usually cost more to repair because cracks tend to "travel" during the restoration process, making the whole thing trickier and more time-consuming.
If you decide to have that heirloom vase restored, here are a few things to look for in a professional restorer:
If you have any questions about professional ceramics restoration, we're always happy to chat with you by phone!
Aimee owns EuroLuxHome.com with her best friend, Greg. Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with Aimee on Google+ or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!