Pottery made to order | repair and restoration studio in Southern Delaware

Repairing Pottery With Metal Staples

Metal Pegs & Pins To Joining Broken Pottery

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 into the piece and then the staples were inserted. The 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 its 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 skillfully brought the vessel back to life long before I was born. This page was created to shed some light on this extinct repair method, its beauty, and its 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.

The Last Staples Repair Person - China

Staple Repair to 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.

Pottery repair with staples Stapled chinese antique bowl
metal covering chipped bowl
Metal covering missing chip
cutting staples with diamond dremel disc
Diamond disc cutting off staples
staples / rivets removed
staples / rivets removed

Metal removed from chip
bowl cemented, breaklines and staple holes filled
Holes and break line filled up with PC11 epoxy filler
filler sanded
Filler sanded and polished - rear
filler sanded
Filler sanded and polish - front
Bowl restored seamlessly
Seamless repair - front

Bowl restored seamlessly
Seamless repair - rear (see repair step-by-step lesson)

Pegs and Pins When Adhesive is Insufficient

Repairing a statue, sculpture or figurine with a small cross-section requires metal reinforcement using pins or pegs. This lesson will cover all the steps to complete seamless repairs including painting and glazing. ** This video showes some painting and glazing steps

Some other examples of using metal pegs, pins, and rivets to enhance the 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 are not sufficient.
creating a slot across repair line peg inserted and cemented
Long brass peg along multiple handle breaks
Long brass peg along multiple handle breaks

peg insertend in cemented pitcher handle

Fragmentes stone sculpture using metal insertion technique
Fragments stone sculpture using metal insertion technique

Four pegs inserted in fingers, filled and sanded ready for painting
Four pegs inserted in fingers, filled and sanded ready for painting
Three pegs inserted to proprly bond a horse tail to it's body
Three pegs inserted to properly bond a horse tail to it's body
steps repairing large stone sculpture
More details of how this large Shona sculpture was restored

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