Asked on Apr 02, 2016

How to fix hairline cracks in bottom of vintage bowl?

Pat Grosse
by Pat Grosse
I bought a similar bowl like the one pictured a few years ago and just unpacked it this week. I bought a new home last year and still unpacking from items that were in storage. I love the design and want to only display and not use it.
Any ideas how to fix the hairline cracks so that the bowl doesn't break. Thanks.
  10 answers
  • Maggie Bancroft Maggie Bancroft on Apr 02, 2016
    I would try clear silicone or my old standby, Gorilla glue, spread thin and wiped off. It does dry clear,though. I swear by this stuff.
    • Connie Connie on Apr 02, 2016
      @Maggie Bancroft I really like Gorilla Glue for some things too, but with a crack of any sort in ceramics or pottery, one would not want any adhesive to expand when curing. I personally would leave it alone or apply a clear water base polyurethane if I really felt it needed some support or protection. It should be fine for display as is. ;)
  • Connie Connie on Apr 02, 2016
    As long as you are not using it, washing, stirring and otherwise putting pressure on the hairline crack, I would leave it alone?
  • William William on Apr 02, 2016
    Anything that you do to the bowl would decrease it's value.
  • Ambarnes Ambarnes on Apr 02, 2016
    You place your cracked piece in a pot and cover it with two cups of milk (or more if needed). Next, heat over low for an hour. Allow to cool in milk and then remove and rinse. Your piece, if the crack wasn't too far gone, should now have resealed itself! The idea is that the protein in the milk expands when heated and fills in the cracks. It then bonds with the surfaces and as it cools, becomes one with your china. Cool right? It's a simple trick that's well worth trying before you toss your good pieces or wait for them to crack apart at the most inconvenient of times!
  • Babs Babs on Apr 02, 2016
    I'm not sure if this will work but my mom reattached coffee cup handles by coating the edges with egg white then putting them in boiling water. This was back in the early 50's so from the era of the bowl being in use. She always said she couldn't pick out which one it was. Egg white would infiltrate the cracks. Just an idea.
  • A.L. Chynoweth A.L. Chynoweth on Apr 02, 2016
    I have inherited crockery of the same vintage as this bowl. They're almost a hundred years old. A couple of off the wall suggestions: First, are you sure the underlying pottery is cracked, or are you looking at crazing in the glaze that has discolored over time? These bowls are prone to the crazing, especially since the advent of dishwashers. The crazing doesn't affect the structural integrity of the object. Maybe you don't have to fix it after all! YAY! If it IS cracking in the body of the pottery, compare brands of two stage epoxy and find one that is formulated to emphasize crack filling rather than adhesion, since you aren't intending to use the bowl for anything other than its beauty. For me, the beauty of this sort of pottery is the worn places, the delicate web of occasional "glaze craze", the faint scratches in the design transfers due to much daily use and so on. The Japanese have a type of pottery called Kintsugi or kintsukuroi, where a broken piece of pottery is repaired with golden lacquer. The repair is considered to enhance the beauty and value of the bowl. Maybe loving it for what it is, as it is, age spots, crazing, chips and all is the way to go?
  • Brenda Green Bell Brenda Green Bell on Apr 02, 2016
    With the egg white remedy, did it need to dry before putting it in the boiling water? If not, how did it stay in place? Thank you!
  • Angel Angel on Apr 04, 2016
    I collect old china myself, and I use this trick; place the item in a pot deep enough to cover it completely in milk. Bring to a boil, and leave simmering for about 20 minutes. After the milk cools, pour it off and rinse. Leave the dish to air dry and the cracks will be patched, though you may still see a line. Works every time I've tried it.
  • Elaine Elaine on Apr 05, 2016
    I've never heard of the egg white idea (although it makes sense) and was also going to suggest the milk procedure, however, I also agree with A.L. Chynoweth that the "crazing" is part of its charm. Good luck with whatever route you take.