Where can I find professional restoration that offers multiple services?
You can find advertisements for many restoration services in antique and collectible magazines and trade papers, as well as online. Many restorers group together into guilds that offer more flexibility and a wider range of expertise. To determine the skill and reliability of the restoration (or restorer), it is advisable to obtain some references prior to signing any contract. Take a look at the amount of training the restorer has had, the amount of client satisfaction, documented photos of similar restoration projects, even some "hands-on" review of restored pieces. Check with other people in the industry that would have any information on the services offered by a particular restorer. It is best to consider restoration specialists that use the latest technology in the industry and are always looking for new techniques and products. The specialists you choose should be taking training courses of their own as well as sharing their knowledge within the team. A team may consist of restorers that specialize in different areas such as pottery, porcelain, crystal and glass, dolls, faux finishes, oil paintings, frames, photographs, furniture, taxidermy, optical techs, etc. It's even better if you can find a team like this that is localized geographically and working together under one roof.

If the cost of restoration exceeds the value of an item, what are some simple, cheap techniques we can do on our own?
You do not always need artistic ability to perform a minor restore. There are excellent "How to" guides and easy restoration kits available to help restore visual damage to a minimum. Try to stick with a source that offers start to finish guides. One-step, self-annealing, thermal-curing products can also offer a quick, durable, and permanent results. these products are higher in price but require less for an effective restore. Often these restoration products can be applied to the damage on an item simply by brushing on or filling in, and just letting it cure. To locate start up kits and restoration guidelines, you will usually require the assistance of a professional restoration authority. Always remember that a small, inconspicuous area on the damaged item should be tested before applying any restoration material to ensure that no additional harm will come to the piece. An even better way to test is to find a dummy piece of the same composition and test on it first.

What about appraisals for damaged and restored objects?
Not all damage should be considered for restoration. The value of an item may be decreased by restoration efforts to improve its overall condition. The aging process that adds character to a piece should often be left as-is. However, many objects are considered so old, rare, and collectible, that some restoration is totally acceptable with no decrease in value. If an appraisal is for an insurance claim, the value of a damaged item versus the cost of restoration can make a difference. Determine what percentage of the item is damaged and if the item can be restored to like-original condition. Minor damage, such as chips, can normally cost up to 20% of the item's value to restore. It's important not only to receive reimbursement for the expense of restoration, but also for the subsequent loss in value a damaged piece sustains. Appraisal value can also be based on the "sum of the parts" remaining with or without damage. You can always check the internet for the replacement value of a damaged piece. Keep in mind, claim payments often require the forfeiture of the damaged item. Try to salvage damaged parts such as lids, base pieces, handles, finials, and applied objects (flowers, instruments, etc.) so that these can help restore other items that may be missing pieces.

How can you determine if an object has been restored?
First, Consider examination of the areas that are most likely subject to damage. At the top of our list is (in the case of figurines) heads. Many figurines arrive with heads or other extremities broken off. Examine the neckline and other joining areas for any anomalous color, surface glaze, textures, lines, fading, anything that doesn't match the overall surface of the body. Consider asking the seller to clean up the piece prior to purchasing it so that it will be easier for you to inspect for prior restoration. Second, consider examining areas that are subject to constant pressure. We have found that the worst wear occurs on "handled" surfaces such as the handle, finial, rim, base sections including pedestal feet, lids, and areas with connecting supports. Look for fthe flaws mentioned previously as well as missing details such as age cracks, worn texture, breaks in design or painting, missing beading, etc. Note if any areas have been reduced down or removed thereby altering the diameter, height, or form. This is often the case because it is an easier and less costly process than rebuilding parts. Third, examination should include a test for overall resonant ring, weight, and balance of the piece. Some restoration is so expertly done that a simple examination may not be sufficient. Alternative testing such as various solvent swabs, special light tests, and more is at your disposal. Some of these tests can be harmful to delicate pieces, so be sure to have a knowledgeable restoration specialist perform them for you if you are in doubt.

Restoration Training, what's available?
Training programs can vary in size, length, and scope. Beware of programs that are attractive due to lower prices, because these programs will often have poor student/instructor ratios, inadequate reference materials, poor working environment, and require you to bring everything but the kitchen sink in order to participate. Remember, you get what you pay for. Training programs will generally range in price from $1,000 to over $4,000 for a three to ten day course. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. You should periodically seek training to keep up with new products, equipment, and techniques. This is just as important in restoration as it is in other professions. Whatever your skill level, your instructor should not only be a good restorer, but also a good teacher. Get references from an instructor just as you would an educational institution.

What restoration is available for damaged crystal and glassware?
The most common request is for repair of chipped areas. Normally, depending on the location of the chipped area and the type of piece, a restoration will include grinding the damaged are down, reshaping, and polishing it back to a clean, clear surface. Unfortunately, many crystal and glass repairs are far more complicated, as in the case of deep scratches, cracks, broken or missing parts, and stains. Scratches and stains can be removed with various solvents and/or a process of gently abrasive tumbling formulas, depending on the glass's composition. New parts can be made clear, or, by adding paints or certain metallic compounds, can be made to reproduce any color, sheen, or transparency that may be needed for the project. Many products are available that match satin, frosted, etched, colored, applied decor asdfasd asdfasdf asdfasd asdfa sdfand much more. Some of these products are inexpensive and readily available to the general public, while others are very expensive and require experience before using.

What steps can be taken to maintain and preserve porcelain, crystal, flatware and other fine collectibles?
The environment has an effect on everything. Many problems can develop from exposure to moisture, chemicals, acidic materials, acids and salts found on human skin, temperature changes, various types of light, and dust and pollutants in the air. Try to be cautious and aware of the environmental conditions when displaying, transporting, and storing collectibles. For instance, when you polish your silver, use the least abrasive compounds and be sure to remove all residue by rinsing with hot distilled water. Dry thoroughly and apply a coat of microcrystalline wax. It is best to handle silver with cotton gloves to avoid stress on handles or joints. Silver flatware on display should be set on cut out sections of mylar in order to avoid contact with wood or other surfaces. Most fine collectibles should be stored in areas that are not subject to noticeable changes in temperature or humidity. For example, it would not be wise to store such items in basements, attics, or on mantles over fireplaces. It is also prudent to avoid storing in areas close to air vents where the flow of hot or cold air can cause condensation, or in areas subject to direct sunlight. There are products available that can help protect your pieces during storage such as silver cloth, acid free paper, scavenging cassettes, and volara, an inert foam material.

Can your school offer a safe training environment and long term support?
Yes. Our school is a permanent, long term facility which has been in operation for about 15 years. We have large, well equipped training areas, with a separate work station for each student for added comfort and safety. We are here for you all year round. We have restoration facilities in the city of Nashville and also can travel to just about any location to offer our services.

What training programs do you offer?
For more details on our training courses, return to the homepage and click on "class registration." We have very flexible training programs to suit everyone's needs. Choose from beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses. We even offer private customized sessions. The length of time the class will take depends on the type of training requested and can range from a 3 day, focused mini-session to a 5 day, 50 hour program that covers broader subjects. Our courses focus mainly on 2 categories: one focuses mostly on glass and crystal, and the other focuses on porcelain, pottery, ceramics, and china. However, we can offer courses in any subject matter you like, such as marble, alabaster, frames, oil paintings, bronze, silver, faux finishes, malachite, lace, earthenware, terra cotta, cloisonne, etc.

Lladro - What can you recommend to replace fingers and other parts? Author: DiAnna Tindell
What type of materials are recommended for restoration of Lladro figurines?

To determine what type of product to use for any type porcelain part that is missing, you must first determine if this new part is going to be made as a "free hand sculpting" or if a "mold fill" would work best.

Next you want to consider how much strength the new part needs, how the resonant "ring" sound should be, if the new part needs to be transparent, how much "detail" needs to picked-up?

You also need to determine "how" this new part will be attached. If you want to make the part and then attach it, that would be a different process than forming the part directly on the area as you "free hand sculpt it".

To be specific for the material for "Lladro", I would recommend "Lang Jet" powder with a special applicator brush for any part that is small, narrow, or delicate. This would include fingers.

"Lang Jet" allows you to create the piece by "buliding" it directly on the area as more "Lang Jet" is applied in the shape needed.

A second material I recommend to form a new part on "Lladro" is the "FAST TRAY" but only if you plan to create a mold first. The FAST TRAY can be cast inside the mold and before it completely cures. You can attach the mold with the fill directly on the area that you need the new part with no extra step of bonding. This takes practice because the FAST TRAY cures very quickly.

If you find that you can't master this one-step process, then just make your part first in the mold and then attach it to the area. You can attach the part with Loctite and/or use the "Lang Jet" to actually brush it on.

Remember, if you need to add material to create the join, the actual molded part needs to be a little smaller at the join area to allow for additional "build" for attachment.

Remember to always test out any new technique on a practice piece that is like the one you will be restoring before taking risk to the cherished item.

The products described can be viewed & purchased on our site

What are some extra tips on bonding?
1. Etch the surfaces to rough them up a little to allow better adhesion.

2. Apply just the right amount of glue, allowing the excess to dry and then just scrape away the extra outside mess. Do not wipe with a solvent because this can just smear and weaken the bond.

3. Consider alternative supports. You may need to include an inner rod / dowl type support made of varying product lines depending on the "body type". In addition, you may need to include "invisible staples" on key under rim areas at the joins with their appearance as a clear glaze but act as more support. You may need to consider an "outer coating" of varying product lines depending once again on the body type to act as a thin band-aid type membrane.

4. In some instance, your piece may be an extremely stubborn glue / bonding job due to the overall gravity in design, weight, or stress points. In some more extreme cases, it may be necessary to add stronger wire, fabric, and/or metal supports within the outer design or inner structure of the object.

NOTE: Finally, if you are in doubt of a strong hold after all steps of caution have been taken, it is best to advise the client. You would not want to be responsible for an item falling apart and causing harm to surrounding objects, children, etc. You should also make sure to TEST each technique before you use it on a client's piece. You may want to advise of special handling and protective devices as support on display.

The selected Loctite products for bonding have changed packaging. I am not sure if I am using the right one because some items have not held well after adhesion. Author: DiAnna Tindell
The basic Loctite products have proven to be dependable. They were not available to the general consumer (commercial only) until just a few years back. The (2) two most needed for porcelain/pottery are the liquid and the gel forms. The proper use of these are based on the "body type" of the piece. The outside packaging of the Loctite products can vary. They have a gray/blue squeeze spaceship type container for some gels. They have a roll-on and a nail brush type. The type preferred is just the normal toothpaste type tube for the gel and the cone shaped eyedropper for the liquid.

Shelf life is a very big issue. You do not want to purchase the glues from a "low traffic" store. The downside to the packaging is that they do not put any "expiration date" on the containers. This would be a great help. Store all your glues in the lower crisper area of a refrigerator for the best shelf life. Trow it away after exposed to usage more than a few weeks. It is better to waste glue than to risk a bad bonding only to have the project come apart unexpectedly.

If you have any questions about choosing the best adhesive product line, you can order a full Loctite catalog by calling 1-800-321-0253.

I have a head vase that was restored before. The seller said it was airbrushed and to be careful when cleaning it. Is this true that whenever you use the airbrush to repaint during a restoration project, it can come off when washed? Author: DiAnna Tindell
The cleaning of an object that has been restored before, all depends on "how it was restored". There are so many different restoration processes out there and it is really difficult to just assume that the "airbrush" paint that was used is or isn't washable.

The most important factor that I try to stress to all my students is to TEST a small area of any object with any process before doing the entire piece.

So, let us suppose that this head vase was painted with a lacquer base airbrush paint. This is probably the most popular technique of restoration. Well, if the glaze has been applied to coat over the base pigments, this usually gives the item a strong seal.

Now, the solvent(s) that would dissolve this type of "airbrush" lacquer would normally be "lacquer thinner". But there are a lot of properties in normal household cleaners that can remove some of this type surface.

Normally, a restored piece can be gently cleaned with water and a soft cloth. Some can be washed with a diluted sudsy water. It all depends on the restoration.

Dental Fastray (Porcelain)- what special formulas are needed that are different than the pre-packaged instructions of standard use? Author: DiAnna Tindell
Dental Fastray can be purchased as a complete kit or in sample or bulk quantity. The standard package instructions provide a formula with exact measuring devices. It normally is one glass vile of catalyst liquid to one full scoop of base white powder. The result will be a final product that is more like a grainy marble body type. 1. Smoother results - require a change in ratio of one vile of liquid to only (half) a scoop of white powder base. The additional liquid will allow the powder to be more pourable & will cure as a smooth, strong area. 2. Translucent results - requires a ratio of a vile & a (half vile) of liquid to only a (half) scoop of powder. This is more liquid & will require slightly more curing time. It will also run if allowed to escape mold areas. 3. Color parts - the ratio of liquid to powder should be the same as #1, but add color powder pigments to the base white powder before activating with the liquid catalyst. If a more translucent area is required, use as in #2 ratio with color pigments. 4. Smaller parts - the ratio of half a scoop of powder to one full vile of liquid is normally more than is needed. So, to cast smaller molded parts, it is best to reduce both ratios. This will avoid waste of a very fine product. You will be able to cast hundreds of parts. 5. Instant adhesion - because this product is a thermal activation with adhesive quality it is best to allow the mold to rest on the area needed as the fastray within that mold curing. This will give you the strongest hold with no need of any epoxy or bonding agents. In most cases, this self adhesion of an instant part is black light undetectable. 6. Removal - any area can be removed if desired with additional instruction from our web site. The Dental Fastray can be sanded, painted, glazed, dremeled, etc. It will create a smoke when dremel is at a high speed with some product remaining on bit - which can be removed. **This product is strong, can be matched to most semi /hard body types, last forever, color permanent.

Semi-Hard Porcelain - Recommend processing for Old Paris Vases for example - I have a pair of Old Paris Vases with areas missing. Some are smaller areas like the tips to acanthus leaves. There is one very large area missing in the main body of the flute on one vase. What material(s) would be best to use in the replacement of these missing parts? Author: DiAnna Tindell
Old Paris Porcelain is normally thick & heavy to some degree. TOf course the design of the vase can create smaller & thinner areas. The quality of this European porcelain is normally well worth the investment of your better dental products to replace parts, etc. Replacement Guide based on smallest to larger areas: 1. If the part to be replaced is just a small chip - less than 1 inch, that area can easily be filled in & sculpted with the use of OPI brush & Dental Lang Jet tooth shade #59 with powder pigment additions. This will give you the same firmness in texture & can be polished to a close match requiring little or no additional top color. 2. If the part is over 1 inch in size, you will need to create a mold to be filled. The mold product would probably be Exaflex. This would give you the control needed for a good hold within the mold & will also pick-up good detail. The material to pour into this mold would be the Dental Fastray. The best mix would be slightly on the liquid side & the best adhesion would be to connect the mold to the area as the Fastray is curing. This takes some experience. If you are not able to do this, then pour the part separately. Once the part is formed, you can attach it with a mix of the Loctite liquid as the first adhesion & reinforce the connection with the brushed on Lang Jet & OPI brush tool. 3. If the part is thick, heavy, & on the base of a larger object, the best material would be the use of Repair It Quick. This product is so strong & sets up so quickly, that you must be able to work with it fast. If the area needs a mold for shape, the mold product would work best if you use the Sil Putty stiffer molding product. This mold does not give as much detail, but will hold up best when the fill is a heavier material to be pressed in. Repair It Quick can be placed directly on the area for immediate adhesion. 4. If the area is large but thin, such as a tall fluted area, you may need a large mold lined first with laytex for exact detail & stiff Sil Putty outer second support.


DiAnna Tindell

According to DiAnna Tindell there is no joy greater than returning an object that has been chipped, cracked or broken to its original shape and beauty. "There's nothing to match the appreciation in the owner's eyes when they first see it," said Tindell. {more}
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