Hundreds of years ago before the availability of adhesives, pottery was repaired with metal staples or rivets on particularly valuable pieces holding together the broken ceramic segments. Small holes were drilled in to the piece and then the staples are inserted. Remaining holes space were sometimes filled with organic glue or clay colored or painted to conceal the repair.
We often receive antique Japanese or Chinese vessels repaired with staples and are asked to convert them to a seamless repair. In each case, we attempt to convince the owner to keep the staple-repaired vessel as is to appreciate it's beauty and the skill required to join broken pottery at a time when adhesives were not available. When we do reverse the old repair, as I remove the old staples, I find myself saddened apologizing to the skilled person who skilfully brought the vessel back to life long before I was born. This page was created to shed some light on this extinct repair method, it's beauty and historical value with the hope that it remains as is.
There are cases today where pegs and pins are required even with a seamless repair, Some examples are shown at the end of this page.
The Last Staples Repair Person - China
Reversing Staple Repair Implementing a Seamless Repair
The antique Chinese below arrived for repair requiring to remove the old staples / rivets repairs and re-restore it seamlessly using current and modern process and materials.
This past imperfect but inventive repair lasted for hundreds of years and we truly appreciated the staples implementation and tried to persuade the owner to keep it the way it to preserve history. Unfortunately he insisted to proceed with a seamless repair and we had to remove the staples as shown below.
Metal covering missing chip
Diamond disc cutting off staples
Metal removed from chip
Holes and break line filled up with PC11 epoxy filler
Using Pegs and Pins in Cases When Modern Adhesives are Not Effective
Some other examples of using metal pegs, pins and rivets to enhance mechanical integrity of areas with narrow cross sections with heavy load bearing forces (e.g., handles). We have been using this technique in hundreds of cases in places where adhesives alone is not sufficient.
Long brass peg along multiple handle breaks
Fragments stone sculpture using metal insertion technique
Four pegs inserted in fingers, filled and sanded ready for painting
Three pegs inserted to properly bond a horse tail to it's body