Tag Archives: do-it-yourself

How to Fix Scratches on Antique Furniture with Furniture Crayons

As part of our series on antique furniture restoration tips and tricks, I made this YouTube Video about how to easily fix wood blemishes, watermarks and scratches on antique furniture using furniture crayons. It is a question we hear quite often from friends and other people who have antique furniture. Perhaps they’ve accidentally scratched the wood moving the piece from room to room, or perhaps they have inherited a beloved heirloom that needs a little TLC.

In any case, we all know that we get a few wrinkles as we age! So here’s how you can do a little touch up and hide that blemish. This also works for new wood furniture that might have some superficial dings.

This is the video I made on YouTube about how to use furniture crayons to disguise scratches or other marks in the wood. I’ll also give a summary below.

There are various furniture crayons available, but Greg and I like to use Blendal sticks. Then we use Mohawk Tone Finish to set the crayons.

In the video example, I show how to use the furniture crayons to help with two different blemishes on an antique buffet or server. One is a gouge and scrape to the finish and the other one is a wear spot.

Here’s the secret: When you use your furniture crayons, you must apply several different colors, rather than try to exactly match one color of wood. This is because aged wood isn’t one color, it has earned a patina of time that is subtly beautiful. And even new furniture crafted in antique style is often distressed so the wood looks aged.

So for this antique buffet in the video, I use a dark brown furniture crayon, a red one, an even darker brown one, and a black. The black is probably the most important one!

As I work the crayons into the wood, I’m going with the grain of the wood and I keep changing colors, adding a little of one color then a little of another. I rub it in with my fingers. It’s all about being patient and keep applying color until you feel like you have really camouflaged it in.

As I said, black is important and I use it to give little grain lines, feathering it with my hand and putting a little more pressure on to smudge it in.  Don’t be afraid to mix the colors because that’s what gives you the visual depth. Antique pieces do have different layers and shades on the patina of the wood from natural aging. They are not uniform in tone, and that’s part of what makes a piece of antique furniture look so wonderful.

Be sure to always use your fingers to rub along the same grain as the wood. I keep adding layers of color until I feel like I’ve made the match. You’ll see that in the video I’m really taking my time and using a lot of colors until I feel like it’s going to blend in with what’s there. Still, I fix both marks in less then 10 minutes, so it’s pretty easy!

If you are working on an area that has a lot of carving, you might need to use a toothbrush to get into the all nooks and details of the carving.

Then I stand back and look at the whole piece.  I know I’m finished when the area I worked on doesn’t jump out at me!

Finally I use Mohawk Tone Finish to set the furniture crayons. We like to use the satin variety rather than a shiny one, because we find it blends in better.

I shake it to mix up the product and then do a test spray to make my nozzle is spraying evenly. Then I spray a really light mist. I let it set for just a minute and then give it another very light mist again.

Sometimes you have to do two passes, especially when it’s a bigger chip or ding. But after the tone finish, you can’t really see that there was a problem there at all.

When this dries, the work I’ve done really will have blended in. The blemish doesn’t jump out any more!

If you have any questions about how to fix blemishes, watermarks and scratches on antique furniture using furniture crayons, please do leave a comment in the comment box below!

AimeeAvatarAimee owns EuroLuxHome.com with her husband and best friend, Greg. Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 7 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Find us on Facebook or connect with EuroLux on Google+. Or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Ceramic Restoration Tips: How to Fix a Broken Ceramic

Oops… crash! Do you have any broken ceramic items lying around the house waiting to be repaired? We’ve got some tips so you don’t have to put the job off any longer! Greg’s mom Kathy is our Director of Restoration Services and she is a certified expert in fine ceramics restoration. Kathy made this video with tips on how to fix your broken ceramics.

The item Kathy repairs in the video is a broken ceramic figurine, a.k.a. Prudence. The large figurine was shipped from Europe to a friend of ours and it arrived with a broken arm. Our friend asked Kathy to take a look at Prudence and see if she could do a repair on the poor girl’s arm. Of course, if EuroLuxAntiques.com packed and shipped this figurine (or any other antique ceramics in our gallery) it would not arrive broken!

Prepare to Fix your Broken Ceramic

1. Kathy says that before starting with the glue, make sure you have paper towels handy as you will definitely need them.

2. Then she starts by looking at the broken surface to see what kind of glue is needed to repair it. She rubs the broken edge with a toothbrush and sees that some powder comes off it. She also sees a few little air holes. This tells Kathy that it’s a soft paste with a lower firing temperature than some other ceramics.

3. With that information she chooses a white glue. The scientific name is polyvinyl acetate (PVA). Elmer’s white glue is the brand Kathy’s prefers. It goes on white and becomes clear as it dries. Note that white glue is water-soluble. It is unlikely that anyone will ever need to put Prudence in water… she’s already suffered enough! But if you do fix a broken ceramic with white glue, you must remember not to soak it later otherwise it will come apart.

4. If there is already glue on the raw edge from a previous fix, you need to clean that off or the new repair won’t seat perfectly.

5. Kathy uses a cardboard box to put the item in and support it while she works. This trick means that gravity does the work for you. The broken ceramic remains stable as it is lodged against the sides of the box. Prudence is a large figurine so Kathy got a banana box from a grocery store. If you have a smaller item to mend, then you would choose a smaller box.

Now the stage is set… let’s get on with the show!

How to Repair the Broken Ceramic

Kathy places the figurine so it balances and is lodged perfectly in the box. Before placing the arm, she is careful not to scrape the broken edge of the piece around too much. She doesn’t want to loosen particles that will interfere with the seating of the piece.

How to glue broken ceramicNext, Kathy applies glue all around the edge of the piece. Some people say to put the glue on both edges of the break – the broken piece itself and the main body you’re attaching it to. Kathy doesn’t usually do that unless it’s quite a wide break. But she does recommend applying the glue all around the edges of the break and then putting some glue down just inside the rim of the break. Then when she places the arm back on the figurine, the glue will run down on the inside. It covers the break on the inside too and gives a little extra strength to the repair.

Once the arm is seated, Kathy wipes off any excess glue spilling on the outside. Then she presses the broken pieces together as hard as she can for about one minute.

“That helps it to heal,” she says. (You can tell that Kathy was a nurse in the U.S. Navy. She worked in that profession for 35 years!) Because white glue is water-soluble, she can go back later once the glue has dried and easily clean off any other excess glue.

So now you know how to fix your broken ceramic items. Let us know how it goes or ask any other questions in the comment box below. Kathy also gave some great tips on deciding when to leave antiques repairs to a professional and when to tackle it yourself in our blog post: When It Breaks: DIY or Professional Restorer?

Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her husband, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox!

When It Breaks: DIY or Professional Restorer?

We’ve all felt that horrible sensation in the pit of our stomach when a treasured piece of china crashes onto the floor. Did it break? How badly is it broken? Can we salvage it at all?

Whether the damaged item is a cherished antique Blue Delft vase or an antique Belgian dining chair, it can be difficult to decide how to proceed. Some repair or restoration projects are do-it-yourself in nature, while others perhaps should be left to a professional.

As you might imagine, we do quite a bit of repair and restoration work around here. Not every item that arrives in a shipping container from Europe survives the trip unscathed. Thankfully, we have Greg’s mother, Kathy, to perform expert repairs and restoration on items that need tending. By the way, if you ever have a question as to whether we’ve repaired or restored an item in our inventory, please don’t hesitate to ask. Usually, we tell you right in the description, but I’m never offended by questions!

Because ’tis the season when glass and china items get dropped, knocked off the shelf, or otherwise broken, I asked Kathy for some tips on how to decide when to use a professional restorer. We focused on ceramic items because Kathy is a certified expert in fine ceramics restoration, as you can tell from this photo!

Step One: Consider the Monetary Value of the Object

The value of an object after restoration should be the same as it was before the object was broken. If the cost of repairs will be significantly more than the item is worth, you might want to try repairing it yourself. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to professionally restore a $2 coffee mug. And sometimes you can go on Replacements.com to find china pieces for a fraction of the cost of a professional restoration.

Step Two: Consider the Sentimental Value

You may feel an heirloom item is worth professional restoration, regardless of the cost. That’s OK. If you have a piece you want to continue to pass down through the generations, and if you can afford the cost to have it restored, then why not do it?

Step Three: Consider How the Item is Used

Most professionally restored ceramics cannot be soaked or washed in a dishwasher. This means a repaired object must be relegated to decorative status. If you’ve broken a utilitarian piece, such as a dinner plate, you may want to check other sources for a replacement rather than trying to repair the piece. If, on the other hand, the broken object is a vase, you may wish to proceed with the repair even though you know you won’t be able to display fresh-cut flowers in it anymore.

Step Four: Consider the Expense

A truly skilled restorer can make a broken piece look new again, but this expertise comes at a price. You should also take into account these factors that can increase the cost of any professional ceramics restoration:

  • If the object is broken into many pieces
  • If pieces are missing and must be fabricated
  • If the pattern has to be researched (for example, to determine the correct shape for a handle to be fabricated)
  • If a repair (such as gluing) has already been attempted and the old bonding must be removed
  • If the object includes decorative pieces in raised relief, such as flowers, that must be cast in a mold

It’s also worth noting that Royal Doulton and Dux items usually cost more to repair because cracks tend to “travel” during the restoration process, making the whole thing trickier and more time-consuming.

How to Choose a Professional Restorer

If you decide to have that heirloom vase restored, here are a few things to look for in a professional restorer:

  • Professional certification from a noteworthy training institute or school
  • A portfolio of repairs for you to review to evaluate the quality of work
  • Customer testimonials available on their website or referrals to clients willing to discuss their experience with you

If you have any questions about professional ceramics restoration, we’re always happy to chat with you by phone!

 Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

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