Upcycling Broken China with Friendly Plastic
September is a time when I take stock, I don’t mean do a stock take, which happens at the end of November when the Rare Bird financial year ends, and I loathe every second of the process! I mean that I take stock of the household after the summer and consider what needs to be done before the weather turns, and what I need to clear out due to wear and tear. This summer has been so glorious that we have been eating outside a lot, and that means the inevitable breakage or chips in things that don’t normally get to spend time in the garden due to our summers normally being fleeting, or in April!
This year I had a number of chipped mugs that I was going to throw out, but the patterns were so lovely that I decided to see if I could make use of them. This involved taking a hammer to the mugs and smashing them – no mean feat in this case as the mugs were hugely thick in the middle and the hammer bounced back a number of times before I finally had the courage to really go for it and shatter the darn things into shards that scattered all over the place! A bit of forethought and I would have wielded my hammer in something that restricted the spread of thin sharp slithers of china, and also worn protective clothing and goggles! Anyway, after half an hour of careful sweeping and meticulous searching for stray shards, I had a lovely selection of random shapes and sizes of broken mugs ready to be transformed, and a much clearer idea of how I would proceed with the next mug!
Because Friendly Plastic is reasonably thick, it covers the sharp edges really well, and when it cools and hardens, there are no lethal ceramic protrusions to slice the unwary. This meant that no sanding and smoothing was necessary. All I had to do was heat strips of Friendly Plastic and apply them to the china. Easy? Well after a bit of trial and error, I decided that the simplest thing to do was to foil the edge of a narrow strip of Friendly Plastic, heat it colour side down on a Project Sheet and when soft, touch the edge of the ceramic shard to one end of the Friendly Plastic. Careful placing of the shard onto the Friendly Plastic was necessary (don’t use concave shapes for your first go – it makes it much trickier to do), and as I proceeded, the Friendly Plastic stuck to the shard and lifted off the Project Sheet so it became easier to position the shard by rotating it along the Friendly Plastic strip. A bit of gentle smoothing had the Friendly Plastic wrapped around all the sharp edges. Hot water helped when the Friendly Plastic cooled to the point where I could not manipulate it any more.
When all the edges were covered, and the Friendly Plastic cooled, it was easy to briefly heat with a heat gun and apply Transfer Foils or Mica Powders to enhance the finish. Headpins were added with a little ball of Friendly Plastic – no glue necessary.
This necklace was made using 3 large shards of broken mug and some curved Tubeads made using my Tubeads Kit for bails.
I enjoyed this process a lot, and got a little excited by it, to the point that I reconsidered all the mugs in the cupboard and a few plates too! However, nothing else had chips on, and I thought it a bit profligate to smash up a perfectly good bit of china, so now I am off to the charity shops in search of suitable things to use. My lovely local Cancer Research shop saves me anything that I might be on the look out for – broken china, broken jewellery, old gloves etc. These things would all normally be thrown out, but I always make a donation, so they get to make money out of stuff that would have normally been consigned to the bin.
I have some lovely navy Sari Ribbon from Craftynotions that went perfectly with the blue and white of the mug, and combining it with some beautiful natural gemstones from Jewellery Maker along with some salvaged bead-caps that were in my stash, it was easy to create something that involved the many aspects of my creative life – textiles, being a Guest Designer for Jewellery Maker, and my love of recycling and reusing, and last but definitely not least, my passion for Friendly Plastic.
It makes things more interesting and visually exciting.