Watch the dealers in an auction room full of antique china and glass. Their fingers are everywhere. They fondle and stroke plates and cups, goblets and glasses. They are especially concerned with the edges where chips so often occur. the broad surfaces of plates may yield their secret flaws when held up to the light. Nowhere else in the antique world do you see such a constant search for perfection.You won’t see it in furniture collector’s and dealers. They celebrate wear and tear. The lowliest patch of grime and grit is elevated to the lofty status of “patina.” Most areas of collecting carry on this ethic to some degree. But glass is meant to sparkle. You wouldn’t eat off of dirty plates so why collect it and put it on display. We like to have it whole and blemish free.
Life happens and unless it is locked away for all time our precious bits of china may fall victim to breakage. China and crystal are often family heirlooms soaked in memories and not easily discarded. Repairing these items can be a difficult task ending in a thing of beauty degraded to a faded dream. Before repairing these items take the time to think through your process. Assess your skills realistictly and use the right adhesives.
white glues don’t do much for smooth nonporous surfaces. I have found that cyanoacrylate or “super glues” are overrated for this type of job. I like epoxy because it give one the time to bring pieces together and reposition them more precisely if necessary. always try to arrange a system of clamps to provide a bit of pressure to the mating surfaces. With epoxy it need not be excessive pressure as long as good alignment of the objects with no gaps can be achieved. Squeeze-out or smudges can be cleaned up with denatured alcohol.
If the do-it-yourself approach takes you out of your comfort zone or if you wish to preserve as much of an object’s value as possible then consider handing it over to a china repair expert. In homemade repairs one often sees that parts were glued together well but small chips were not recovered. The result is something like a break in dark colored areas where the lighter ceramic shows through. Experts use special ceramic fillers and dyes to patch cracks and create seamless repairs that are almost impossible to see. Glass and crystal repair is even harder to perform satisfactorily by yourself. In a professional repair shop, chips in crystal are ground and polished for a completely invisible repair. They take advantage of non-yellowing epoxy formulations to glue broken pieces of glass together. Some even provide materials or repair kits so that if you still want the satisfaction of making a repair at home it can be done with superior materials as well as expert guidance.