Ceramics is a general term that can cover different types of objects made from heated clay. The two main categories are pottery and porcelain. Whatever type you have, it will need the same care and attention.

There is a great deal of misleading information about repairing ceramics at home, and the following should be avoided.

Repairs to Avoid:
  • Don't heat up cracked plates in the oven. This can extend the crack, split the object altogether or open up old repairs.
  • There are many kinds of adhesives and their use in repair of valued ceramics requires training and an understanding of chemistry. Hydrogen peroxide and sterilising preparations are sometimes recommended for cleaning ceramics - don't use them! Their ingredients can react causing damage, including staining. If you do use adhesive at home to repair a ceramic you'll probably find it seeps out. Commercial glues can easily yellow and can be difficult to remove. Sandpaper and scalpels should not be used.
  • Painting in a damaged area should also be avoided. There are over 100 colours of white! Colour matching takes great skill and training.
  • Soaking old ceramics can have hidden dangers. Old repairs could become loose and porous pieces will absorb water that could cause future damage.
  • If a ceramic has been repaired (even by a conservator), don't use it for food. It could be a health hazard.
If you discover damage on a piece that is special to you (for whatever reason), contact a qualified ceramics conservator to discuss treatment. A bad home repair will cost more to rectify than getting professional advice from the start.




Who hasn't dropped and maybe broken a piece of ceramic? It may not be possible to completely stop breakages but here are some tips to reduce the danger:

  • Avoid handling cups, pots and vases by the handles or other vulnerable areas. Age and hidden repairs may have weakened them. Hairline cracks worsen with rough handling.
  • When carrying ceramics be aware of loose pieces like lids that could come off. Remove them first and carry pieces with two hands.
  • If you have heavy items, make sure they are well supported and get help with doors. It is often safer to move items (even within your home) in a box or basket padded with tissue or clean cloths.
  • Don't rush when moving objects and make sure you set them down gently.





Part of the joy of collecting ceramics is being able to appreciate them in your home environment and putting them on display. make sure that by doing this however you're not exposing them to any risk of damage. Are they somewhere that people (or animals) could knock them off? Is your home prone to vibrations from trains/traffic or planes? Will pieces suffer from nicotine stains (from heavy smoking) or coal dust? Display cabinets are often the best place for ceramics. Make sure objects can be set back from the edge and that there is enough space between each item. Plate stands are also decorative ways to display your plates. But make sure they are stable and won't topple over easily.

If you want to display a plate on the wall, make sure the wire rack is covered with plastic. If not, it could scratch away the edge of the plate. It should also be a good fit. If it's difficult to get it around the edge, it may be too small and place unnecessary stress on the plate. Never glue display units to your ceramics!


Cleaning your ceramics is a good way to inspect your pieces for any signs of new damage or deterioration of old repairs.

Forget exotic solutions and immersing items in water or other liquids! Cleaning should be done by firmly cradling a piece and brushing with a very soft brush.

In extreme cases, dirt might be cleaned with a very dilute solution of water and washing up liquid. Don't immerse in water. If the water in your region is hard, use distilled water from your chemist. Apply it with a slightly dampened cotton bud or piece of cotton wool. Don't scrub! Do a small area at a time and dry immediately.

Never put special ceramics in a dishwasher.


Packing ceramics can often cause the most damage, so here's some advice on packing ceramics safely.
  • Use a cardboard box that is sturdy (ideally made of acid-free material) and a few centimetres higher than the edge of the ceramic. Start by crumpling up tissue (acid-free is best) into balls and pad the bottom. Don't use newspaper. It is very acidic and if it becomes wet, the print could transfer onto the object.
  • Don't wrap each piece as this is the easiest way to lose or break pieces. Instead, shape balls of tissue and build up 'nests' in which the ceramic can rest. Make sure the tissue isn't forced into the box.
  • If you have to put more than one piece in a box, make sure they don't touch.
  • A tip for finding things - label the outside of the box (add enough information that you know what is in the box but not specific enough to help thieves select what to steal) and put a sheet of white paper with the contents written in pencil (ink can run and stain) just inside the lid to help know where things are located in the box.