Don't hide imperfect tableware in the back of the cabinet—have them fixed with advice from a professional restorer.
Quaker Pegg Bloom Plates
Credit: Marcus Nilsson

You're setting the table with the china that's been handed down to you from a beloved family member. Suddenly, you notice one of the dinner plates is chipped. How did that happen? No matter—it can be fixed. Corey Keller of Keller China Restoration who, with his wife JoAnn, has been restoring everything from porcelain figurines to crystal vases for 28 years, explains how he makes broken things look new again.

Fix a chipped dinner plate.

To recreate what the dish looked like in its original form, Keller first applies filler to the chipped part then reshapes it to get the right contours. "We put a finish all over that," he says, "so we've got to get that perfectly smooth." Then, his wife starts the painting process with the background color and fills in any patterns as needed. When the painting is done, Keller puts a glaze over the dish to match the original glaze, which could be dull or shiny. Glaze, he says, helps protect the paint from being easily scratched or worn off. Keller says it's possible to make any fixes yourself rather than go to a pro "but, generally, any product you buy over the counter is going to turn yellow over time and become brittle and fall apart."

Repair cracked, broken, or chipped glass.

When it comes to glass, you can't make cracks invisible because of its transparent nature, but Keller says you can use bonding agents that help hide the cracks; he adds that this also won't turn yellow over time. "If the crack is on the seam, you probably can't tell where the repair is, but stems are trickier, especially if they're thin with sparse surface area to bond to." Most crystal and glass repairs are made with glues and an ultraviolet light system that lets the glue dry perfectly clear. Got a chip? No problem. Keller says glass grinding smoothes the rough edges of a glass' rim so it can be used again.

Wash and clean with caution.

Your newly restored china should not be used to serve food on, submerged in hot water, or cleaned with detergents. "Spray-on paint and finishes are not made to come into contact with food or be washed because they're not durable," says Keller. Opt to put Grandma's dinner plate on display instead. If you really want the plate to be functional, you could have the chipped piece glued back in with a bonding agent. But without going through the restoration process, the fixed part will eventually turn yellow.


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