The Art of Porcelain Restoration

Antique porcelain is valued for its historical and artistic values. Due to human negligence and natural disasters, many valuable porcelain items get damaged and lose their monetary worth and cultural importance. Porcelain restoration not only helps preserve the monetary value of a porcelain item but helps preserve the work of art for future generations.

Professional porcelain restoration requires that a restores undergo a basic training. Many colleges and universities offer ceramic and porcelain restoration courses, and some provide diplomas and certificates. The restorer has to know the difference between various materials, such as porcelain, ceramic, majolica, terra cotta, earthenware, clay, and plaster, learn how to work with many types of paintbrushes, how to operate and airbrush, and learn the skill that requires to glaze and lacquer the surface of items. When restoring Chinese and Japanese porcelain the restorer has to know the historical period the item was created in order to match the color and surface pattern. On top of that, he or she also has to have the artistic ability, the right temperament to work long hours and appreciate the delicate and painstaking work that porcelain restoration often requires. A haphazard approach to porcelain restoration further damages the items instead of restoring and conserving them.

Below are the steps involved in restoring porcelain items:

1. Careful examination of the item and the broken pieces.

2. Washing and cleaning the pieces (in many cases old glue or restoration has be to taken off) in order to prepare them for a new restoration.

3. Sculpting the necessary fragments and micro-fragments for a perfect fit of the existing broken pieces.

4. Gluing and bonding the pieces.

5. Matching and replicating the surface color and pattern / design, first with a paint brush and then with an airbrush, which often requires several steps.

6. Glazing or lacquering, depending on the material.

The restoration takes from three to four weeks and depends on the severity of the damage. An ethical restorer places a heavy emphasis on conservation, which means strengthening the item undergoing the restoration and using only those materials that will not damage the object's substance, thus helping preserving for many years to come.