Reusing Broken Dishes

Sometimes broken china and pottery can be used in very interesting ways to create something new. This guide is about reusing broken dishes.

A broken green dish in several pieces
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Here is a picture of my grape hyacinths. I used some broken bowls to edge the top of the rockery. Both bowls were broken but a good half section was still whole so I leaned them up against the plants in the rockery making it look like they were growing out of the bowls.

Using Broken Bowls in the Garden

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A broken green dish in several piecesCrash! There goes another broken dish, making your service for eight into service for five. While there's plenty of reasons to be upset at this moment, there's no reason to waste money. A broken dish is no longer part of your set, but it's in no way trash, and neither is your service for five. It's all just an opportunity for a great project and new uses for old items.

Broken Dishes

Broken plates rarely crack; they shatter. Carefully pick up the broken pieces and save them. Broken plate pieces make great collage projects, and since the original plate matched your place setting, the new collage project will, too.

Purchase an old metal serving tray at a flea market, yard sale, or discount store. The design doesn't matter so the uglier and cheaper the better. Then, pour a layer of thin-set mortar onto the tray. Smooth it with a serrated spreader, either one made for tile or one you make yourself by cutting notches into a piece of plastic. Then, push the broken pieces into the mortar. You can create a design with multiple broken plates or recreate your original plate design, leaving spaces between each piece. Fill these spaces with grout when the mortar dries. Colored grout adds to your design, so consider some options. Wipe the grout from the pieces with a moist sponge before it dries. Now you have an interesting serving piece, a center piece tray (try making your collage on a lazy susan), or a wall hanging that matches your place setting.

Cracks and Chips

For those plates that aren't broken but only chipped, a variety of options await your crafty hands. Consider building a candy or cake dish from your broken dishes. Always carefully file the broken edges and reseal them with a spray acrylic to keep them smooth. Layer a smaller plate on top of a complimentary plate or another larger chipped dinner plate. Make sure you don't align the chips or cracks of the two plates. Then, using mortar or strong waterproof glue for ceramics, layer the dishes on top of one another. If the top dish is broken in half, use the mortar to repair it as it sits on top of the larger dish. If a piece is missing from either plate, use mortar or grout to fill it in. Now, find a sturdy juice glass and grout/glue that to the middle of the underside of your plate. You now have a standing candy or cake dish. You can create tiers with extra juice glasses and graduating plates. Did you break the handle off of your coffee mug? File away the remaining stubs and use that in place of your juice glass. Now your entire candy dish will reflect your dish pattern.

The Leftovers

What do you do with the incomplete set of dishes that aren't broken? Don't discard the set; reinvent it. Shop around for another incomplete complimentary set at flea markets and yard sales and combine the two. Or, buy new individual pieces to compliment it. For every one of your original pieces, purchase a matching complimentary piece. If you have a flowered set, add a solid color to match the flowers. If you have stripes, purchase solids or polka dots with the same colors. You could even match stripes with stripes as long as the colors are from the same color palette.

If you're looking to replace your entire place setting, consider open stock dishes. They're more expensive, but they offer the ability to add extra plates, replace broken dishes, and purchase only what you need. If you don't use saucers, don't waste money on them. Instead, add extra dinner plates for company, purchase larger cereal bowls instead of salad bowls, or mix and match styles to anticipate future mixing and growth.

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Does anyone have an idea of how to use old chipped china platters? I have some plain ones and some beautiful ones that I don't dare serve on due to chips and discoloration. Thanks.

Karaof4 from MN

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Depending on where the cracks are, they might be used under houseplants. You could put a few plants on the bigger ones.

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I would like to find someone who would make jewelry from my mother's old dishes. How should I go about such a search?

By ERIS from Tilden, IL

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I don't know if you've found someone yet or not but I do create jewelry from broken china and have had many customers who have been very happy with their custom orders. It's easy to get the process started so let me know if you're still interested. I'll do all that I can to work with you to create the jewelry that you envision.

Please visit my website at to see my work.

And thank you, Kaelle, for mentioning my site in your posting.

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I would like to cut some designs out of china dishes. Does anyone know what kind of tool I need or how to do it? I saw some lovely jewelry made out of pieces of broken plates and would love to try it myself.

By Marlene from Billerica, MA

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You may want to consider wire wrapping your china pieces if you aren't able to drill holes after you cut your pieces with a jewelry saw.

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"Vintage" Cake Platter made from a china plate and stemware.I had two china dinnerware plates stored in my cabinet; I wanted to display them or use them. I made matching cake platters. I used an inexpensive stemware piece, coarse sandpaper, quickset epoxy glue.

Sanding the bottom of the stemware piece and the bottom of the dinnerware plate, I dusted the pieces free of dust and debris; I mixed the epoxy glue and applied it to the bottom of the stemware piece and the center of the dinner plate. Attachment of the stemware piece onto the plate had to be centered. The piece was set aside for 24 hours to insure stability of the piece. The cake platter cannot be placed in the dishwasher; it must be hand-washed.

The china dinnerware plates were bought by my husband when he was in college in the early 1970's when grocery stores offered china patterns on a weekly basis. I had stored these two plates and now they are a "vintage" piece of dinnerware for me. I can proudly serve my family, friends and guests on my pretty cake platter or use at a tea party.

The bottom of the stemware is clear so at time of using this piece for entertaining, I will place a flower or another type of ornamental piece in it for decorative purposes.

By JOSE from Collierville, Tennessee

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Better Living Green Living Recycling CraftsJune 7, 2012
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