Introduction: Mending and Filling Broken Ceramic and Pottery

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We, Lakeside Pottery Studio, are often asked if we can refire a broken pot or a statue in a kiln and make it "perfect" again. A potter simply cannot refire a broken pot and make it whole again. The only way to restore such an object is by using "cold materials and process". The first step to fix broken pottery or a ceramic object is by mending the pieces with two-part epoxy adhesive. With modern adhesives, fillers, paints and cold glaze, it's possible to perform seamless repairs to damaged ceramic and pottery objects. The tutorial below will address the first two steps which are a) mending the broken pieces and b) filling and sanding the visible break lines, chips and gaps using the best commercially available materials. This tutorial applies only to non-porous or slightly porous materials such as porcelain, stoneware, resin and glass.

Note: When mending more porous materials such Terra Cotta, stone or plaster, epoxy is required to be placed on both sides and heating the surface to 100 or more degree F prior to the epoxy application that will improve bonding (but will also reduce workability and cure time!! You have to achieve proper positioning twice as fast). The sanding process of porous materials are also different than what is described below.

Step 1: ​ What You Will Need for Pottery Mending Steps?

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1. Two-part clear 5 minutes PC Clear epoxy ***

2. Wooden stick or a pin-tool for applying adhesive

3. A container with PVC pebbles / pellets, rice or sand

4. Clay

5. Razor blade

6. Denatured or 91% Alcohol

7. Rug

8. Paper pad to mix Epoxy on

IMPORTANT: Ceramic restoration materials are not food safe, liquid or heat proof (over 190 degree F) and repaired items should not be used on cooking or food serving ware more...

*** There are many other epoxies or glues which the manufacturer claims that their product works with ceramic.We tested them all and concluded that for DYI projects, PC Clear epoxy performs the best without needing special tools or instrumentations. We do receive projects that were previously glued with the wrong epoxy that required removal - - can be costly to remove

Step 2: Before Start of Ceramic Mending

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Clean the broken pieces with Alcohol

To match placement of broken pieces so that gravity alone can keep proper alignment, use a small "sand box" that can be filled with rice, sand, etc. We use PVC pebbles.

"Dry run" proper matching of broken pieces. Place the larger broken part in the pebbles (rice or sand) so that gravity will hold the top piece in place. Verify fit before applying adhesive.

Step 3: Applying the 2-part Epoxy to the Broken Pottery Bowl

Picture of Applying the 2-part Epoxy to the Broken Pottery Bowl

Place even amounts of 5-minutes clear epoxy on a paper or cardboard pad.

Mix epoxy well with a pin tool or a wooden stick.

Apply epoxy mix to one side using a pintool, paper clip or a wooden stick

Step 4: Place Broken Ceramic Pieces in Their Permanent Location

Picture of Place Broken Ceramic Pieces in Their Permanent Location

Align pieces and squeeze. Epoxy will ooze out. Do not wipe off to avoid smearing. Wait at least 20 minutes before proceeding with the next piece

Step 5: Cementing Additional Pieces

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Repeat the same cementing process with the next broken piece.

Verify that pieces can stay steady during the cure period (let it cure at 75 degrees F or warmer).

Step 6: Using Clay for Securing Attached Pieces in Place During Curing Duration

Picture of Using Clay for Securing Attached Pieces in Place During Curing Duration

If pieces do not hold well using gravity, use clay for additional support.

Let the epoxy cure for 60 or more minutes before removing excess cured epoxy with a blade.

Step 7: Removing Excess Cured Clear Epoxy Adhesive

Picture of Removing Excess Cured Clear Epoxy Adhesive

Bend blade for better access clearing unwanted cured epoxy.

Scrape off excess epoxy.

Clean surfaces with alcohol for proper filler bonding

Warning - wear protective eyewear

Step 8: What You Will Need for Filling Cracks, Chips and Repair Lines

Picture of What You Will Need for Filling Cracks, Chips and Repair Lines

1. Two parts Epoxy filler PC-11

2. Dremel with EZ lock sanding disc 120 grit

3. 220 grit sand paper 3. 400 grit sand paper

4. Rug 5. Mini Spatula

6. Paper pad to mix Epoxy on

7. Denatured or 91% Alcohol

IMPORTANT: Ceramic restoration materials are not food safe, liquid or heat proof (over 190 degree F) and repaired items should not be used on cooking or food serving ware more...

Step 9: Applying PC-11 Epoxy Filler to Gaps

Picture of Applying PC-11 Epoxy Filler to Gaps

Wipe all surfaces with a 91% alcohol to remove dust and hand oils prior to applying filler epoxy.

Mix even parts of PC-11 epoxy filler. For ease of application, work in room temperature of 75 degrees F or warmer. We place the PC-11 in a small heater and keep it at 100 degrees F.

Apply thin layer of filler while pushing in to fill cracks and missing fragments

Step 10: PC-11 Filler Epoxy Curing Process

Picture of PC-11 Filler Epoxy Curing Process

Allow filler epoxy to cure for 12 hours or more at a temperature of 75 degrees F or warmer. We place our filled projects in a 140 degrees F oven over night.

Placing under a lamp is another good option to optimize hardness for better sanding performance. Place at least 12" away from repair item to avoid overheating.

Step 11: Sanding and Smoothing Vessel's Surfaces

Picture of Sanding and Smoothing Vessel's Surfaces

Use Dremel EZ lock sanding disc 120 grit for sanding.

Use low speed to avoid burn marks and apply light pressure.

If sanding by hand, start with 220 grit sandpaper and finish with 400 grit.

Warning - wear protective eyewear

Step 12: Final Steps Before Painting the Repaired Pot

Picture of Final Steps Before Painting the Repaired Pot

If upon inspection, missed cracks are found, repeat the steps above for the selected areas.

Clean with alcohol to prepare the surface for painting and cold glazing.

Step 13: Painting and "cold Glazing" the Bonded and Filled Pot

Picture of Painting and "cold Glazing" the Bonded and Filled Pot

To hide the repair lines for a seamless repair, painting and application of 'Cold Glaze' are required and more details can be seen in our Painting Lesson

More Lessons and Tutorials

Step 14: Ceramic and Sculpture Studio Tour

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Comments

G-Factor (author)2017-02-19

Not real sure how I ended up on your instructions, but I had to take a minute to say what a great job you did in explaining the process. It's rare today to find someone who genuinely puts the effort and time that it takes to actually create a step by step process anyone can follow. I am a Top 50 Contributor on Home Depot's website (GFactor is my nickname) and I always try to do the same.

Please keep up the great work!

Cheers,

GFactor

Meglymoo87 (author)2016-05-19

Nicely done :)

DelF4 (author)2016-05-13

Thank you so much! The instructions are very nicely covered and I love the different tool and curing options (the warnings as well) I am excited to start on some repairs and feel confident thanks to you. Many thanks and well done ?

lakesidepottery (author)2016-05-11

Thank you all for your kind notes. Perhaps more repair and restoration tutorials can be useful to post. If you have any thoughts of what knowledge we can pass on to the "DIY" community, please let us know.

Patty and Morty

Lakeside Pottery Studio - All Posted Tips and Lessons

Cat00x (author)2016-05-11

Thank you SO MUCH for this instructable. I have repaired cherished broken pieces myself and have always been disappointed, because I didn't know how to do it (I now see). What great information. Thank you, thank you!

askjerry (author)2016-05-11

That is a very well written instructable. I see so many where people barely cover the steps and have "order from us"... kind of thing... but yours is very informative!

I would not have thought of using a box of sand to hold the parts... it's so simple that it's brilliant. And... I never heard of PVC Pebbles before... good to know!

pmoroney (author)2016-05-10

fabulous, I have been searching for exactly this information. Gathering the tools. Will report the results. Wish me luck.

CaroE1 (author)2016-05-10

Years ago I tried slow setting epoxy that you mix with unperfumed talc to make a filler - despite a couple of attempts it always dried proud of the surface and almost impossible to file flat! Found same when I used a commercial mix too, wonder why...it was flush with surface after application but seemed to swell up with drying - has anyone else found that?

GaryW47 (author)2016-05-10

I have nothing that requires mending. I just found your article particularly interesting. I think it's amazing what your skills allow you to achieve and I have to agree with a previous comment that it probably requires more skill to repair and make the finished piece look like new than it was needed to create the original piece. Thanks for your time make and to post your Instructable.

FloridaJo (author)2016-05-10

Thanks, just in time. Hopefully I can get this fixed before Mom returns.

xxlauraxx (author)2016-05-09

Using a bowl of rice to hold the bowl in place while you glue it is such a great idea! I'll try to remember that the next time I'm doing delicate work with an awkward shape.

lakesidepottery made it! (author)xxlauraxx2016-05-09

Thank you for your comment. Rice will probably work well with smaller projects but with larger projects, you want to use the plastic pebbles / pellets (see picture). Some people use send but we found it to be a problem where it sticks to everything. If you use rice, make sure no one cooks it later : )

Patty and Morty

VectorMedia (author)2016-05-07

I personally think that this is more amazing than creating the original piece, because everything has to look perfect but your starting point is a bunch of shards.

wireworker (author)2016-05-07

You do amazing work. I think I'm finally going to try to mend a beautiful, but broken, Italian pottery platter I've had for over 15 years. It's not an expensive piece, but has a lot of sentimental value. Thanks for the tutorial!

gm280 (author)2016-05-07

I have to admit, you make it look easy. And I know there is a lot of skill involved. I do like the clay idea and will certainly use that idea for other things for sure. Good tutorial.

About This Instructable

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Bio: Lakeside Pottery, a nationally recognized Ceramic and Sculpture Restoration studio, established in 2001 as a ceramic art and pottery teaching facility operating for 13 years ... More »
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