Introduction: Mending and Filling Broken Ceramic and Pottery

About: Lakeside Pottery, a nationally recognized Ceramic and Sculpture Repair and Restoration studio, established in 2001 as a ceramic art and pottery teaching facility. We are also craft Kintsugi / Kintsukuroi Japan…

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 addresses 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?

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

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. See other methods of holding pieces in place.

"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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 15: Kintsugi Repair With Gold - How It Is Done and About Kintsugi Metaphor

Step 16: See a Similar Ceramic Repair Step by Step Video