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Glass and Pottery Sellers’ Association - January 2005, Volume 22

To Restore or Not To Restore…That is the Question

pinecone jard before

by waterbabes Mike

To me there is no greater joy then giving a vintage piece of pottery a new life. Let’s face it, they are not making the “real thing” any more.

For those of us who enjoy collectables, there are few things sadder or more frustrating than to see one of our collectables—particularly a piece of great sentimental or monetary value—become damaged. When this occurs you have a few options. You can throw it away, keep it as is or glue it back together. This last option I do not recommend if you are considering having it professionally restored sometime in the future. A glued piece presents the added work (and COST) of breaking down the old glued pieces before beginning the restoration. So if you are going to restore it or are considering restoring it…DON’T glue it.


Finding the Right Professional

The first step is finding a good restoration artist. This can be done searching the web, antique magazines, or through word of mouth. Keep in mind there are not a lot of good ones out there. The most important factor to consider is whether a professional restoration can be done without further damage to the piece.

A qualified restoration artist should be able to complete an invisible repair without removing any part of the original body and the work should be reversible. Ask for references and if possible try to get a look and feel of a completed piece of the artist you’re considering. We keep an inventory of pieces we’ve restored at the local antique mall we sell out of for this very reason.

Next is the dreaded money thing. Ask how your artist charges. Some may quote a flat fee, some charge by the hour and some charge per restoration step. We step charge. Most artists can give a close ballpark estimate with good pictures and description of the damage.

On a personal note—we have a New York Roseville collector who utilizes eBay’s Email this auction to a friend on a piece he may be interested in for a restoration bid so he can factor our restoration cost into his bid. Also don’t forget about shipping and insurance costs to and from your restoration artist.

Patience is a Virtue!

Restoration work is very time consuming so don’t be in a hurry.

I will take you through a restoration just to give you an idea:

Our studio received an eight-inch Roseville green Pinecone jardinière that had been horizontally broken in half and a few vertical break lines which caused the jardinière to be broken into four separate pieces. A portion of one of the handles had also been broken off and needed to be replaced (the “original” broken-off handle piece was completely missing).

pinecone jard before 2 pinecone jard before 3

Cost Estimate/Receive from Owner

First we viewed the pictures we received and wrote up a “game plan” according to the damage we could perceive from the pictures supplied. This jard had been bonded back together with unknown glue and was misaligned with chipping along some of the break lines. We emailed the owner an estimate of the restoration cost; he shipped the piece to us.


We gave the “baby” its first bath to remove surface dirt/film and proceeded to break down the old bonding agent with strippers and debonders. When it came apart we cleaned all the old bonding agent off of all surfaces. This is very important for proper realignment. Next we gave the baby parts their second bath and took “before” pictures. The pieces needed to dry for at least three days to completely dry out before proceeding to the next step.


Next came the moment of truth: rebonding. I will “dry fit” this piece several times before I rebond because I need to get the feel for proper alignment. This feel, as I call it, comes from a lot of practice and work on my own pieces for a year. Once we rebonded the baby back together—or as its New York owner named the piece, the smashed pumpkin—it had to set a few days. After we were sure the bonding agent had completely dried we trimmed off any excess rebonding agent along the break line with a scalpel and proceeded to fill the chips along the break line with epoxy-based clay. Good old mother Earth clay with high-tech glue. We had to do some fine clay “free style” hand molding along the pine needles also. Baby had to set a few more days for the clay to dry.


Now we had to sand and form the break lines to a level plane. Baby was now ready for tinted primer. The primer coat of paint is color matched to the color of the clay originally used to produce the piece. In this case, a light shade of yellow ochre [most of the clay Roseville used for its pieces is a shade of ochre]. The primer coat was then applied with an airbrush and time allowed for the primer coat to thoroughly dry. The piece was then sanded and buffed between primer coats until the interior and exterior break lines could no longer be seen or felt.

Color Matching

Next baby had to have the existing glaze color(s) and finish matched. If I am color matching it could be days—if Pat is color matching it could be just minutes—in other words color matching is difficult. Once the matched glaze color was applied, the piece received a matte finish sealing glaze.


Now the real art was called for. The restored break line(s) needed to be faux painted (finished) by hand to add the varying green shades and shadows and yellow pine needles needed adding. The faux finish is required (on some pieces) to match/blend the restored area(s) with the existing “good” area. Then the no longer smashed pumpkin received three to four coats of existing complementing clear glaze. Most pieces require either a simple matte or gloss finish; however, some may require more of a mixed satin glaze or a VERY high gloss finish (i.e., a Roseville dark brown Rozane piece).

pinecone jard after pinecone jard after 2

Return to Owner

After the final glaze coat the baby took a nap for a week. When she woke up we looked her over to make sure everything we did to her had set good, then she got a two-coat wax job, her picture taken, she was doted on and sent home!

Other Examples

Pat and I studied under DiAnna Tindell's restoration studios of Nashville TN.

ewer before ewer after
bowknot pitcher before bowknot pitcher after
japanese warrior before
japanese warrior after front japanese warrior after back

I dedicate this article to my wife, Pat, because without her eye for color I would have a house full of unfinished pottery.

Mike (1/2 of waterbabes)

PLEASE NOTE: These photos can be printed for your own collection files, but are not to be used for any Internet auction listings, websites, or any other commercial purposes. The photos provided for this article are from the personal collection of the author or with permission from the owner.

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Featured Sellers

GPSA’s Featured Sellers this month are Jpthings, catladykate and Cranberry Manor. We encourage you to click on their seller IDs and visit their eBay auctions.

Cranberry Manor

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Member’s Pick: Website of the Month

by wgpaul Bill

I was looking for information on the hand-painted roses on a Cambridge piece I had recently acquired. A fellow GPSA member who sells under the name fanoffenton sent me to the Palmers' website on Charleton. I really had not been aware of the work done by this company. The handpainted designs are stunning, especially their signature Charleton Roses.

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Don’t You Wish You Had One of These?

by wgpaul

Photo Courtesy of fortunato

This fabulous item was auctioned recently by ebay seller fortunato, operators of The Drawing Room Antiques in Newport, RI . It is an absolutely stunning Zsolnay pitcher with a figural handle of the Greek god Pan, who early Greeks believed was half-man/half goat. We were struck by the richness of color and detail in this 8.25" tall pitcher. The pitcher is marked with the Zsolnay mark as well as an acorn symbol representing Lajos Mack, one of Zsolnay's most respected designers. It sold in December for $6,500.


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It happens every day! You anticipate receiving an item you won at auction. It arrives, and you open the box to see...pottery shards or slivers of glass!

Have you noticed how some auction photos just seem to scream “BUY ME!” while others are so fuzzy and far away you’re not sure what is being offered?

We share a few practical tips on photo taking and packing to help you get that item safely to your buyer! Our GPSA website offers a more in-depth look at valuable packing and photo tips. Please visit and have a look around!

Packing Tips

How to keep a large item from shifting

Photo Tips

Too much clutter

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No reserve clearance sales, less than ONE DOLLAR!

GPSA sellers are still listing clearance items. All items start at an opening bid of 99¢. Don’t miss this opportunity to pick up a bargain from one of our reliable GPSA sellers! All sellers abide by the GPSA guidelines found on our home page.

Find a bargain! Deals and Steals!

To see Shazaam listings at any time, click here. Check back often — sellers add items all the time!


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Welcome New Members

We’re so happy to have you join us!!

The following eBay sellers became GPSA members in December 2004. As members of the GPSA, they have committed to upholding the standards of the Glass & Pottery Sellers’ Association.

  • cranberrymanor
  • dustyoldthings
  • mtsered
Welcome New Members
  • onceoza
  • thepansywoman

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