Any way to patch a chipped ceramic butter dish?

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My wife has a butter dish that she has had longer than she's had me. It's some kind of pottery with a glaze finish. Made in Italy.
Recently, a small piece of the finish chipped off. It's in the middle of the base where the butter sits. The finish is shiny white. The material underneath, now exposed, is a dull grey.
The chip is about the size of a pea and triangular in shape. If I look closely, I can see a series of hairline cracks all across the base.
Is there any way to patch that chip? It doesn't have to be perfect, because it's covered most of the time, but it has to be pretty good. I was also hoping to stop further chipping.
Any ideas appreciated.
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On Mon 10 Nov 2008 04:21:45p, Square Peg told us...

You could try appliance touch-up paint. Its high gloss and very tough. Im sure its also lead free.
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On Mon, 10 Nov 2008 23:28:27 GMT, Wayne Boatwright

Thanks. I wouldn't have thought of that. Looks like I can get it at any hardware store. I even found some instructions that include how to fill in the hairline cracks and the chip:
    http://www.ehow.com/how_112308_touch-appliances.html
I wonder how many shades of "white" they have. Since I'll be filling in with multiple coats where the chip it, I can see how well it matches as I go.
I wonder if I should redo the entire base? There's a lip that the lid fits into. I could go to that corner. If the color doesn't match exactly, it will be harder to tell.
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On Mon 10 Nov 2008 06:51:26p, Square Peg told us...

I used this on a white clay tile floor in a previous kitchen. The clay base was a dark red, and there numerous tiny chips throughout the floor. It worked quite well. Also used it on a couple of hairline cracks.

I doubt there will be too many shades of white. They are usually bottled for specific appliance brands, so there may be a few. I would take the butterdish with me when I lookk for the paint.

I dont think I would do that. Remember, its touch-up paint, not really meant for large areas. Not sure how that would perform.
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On Tue, 11 Nov 2008 02:10:13 GMT, Wayne Boatwright

I bought a small can of appliance touch-up paint and a small jar of acrylic paint. The touch-up paint suggests that it is dry in 15-20 minutes. The acrylic paint takes 48 hours to cure fully.
I tried each one on a old dish. The acrylic paint seems to be a bit thicker and has a shinier finish (at least after about an hour) that is closer to the finish on the dish, but it is a different white. The touch-up paint is almost exactly the same color, but it has a duller finish.
Both of them leave a slightly raised area on the dish. I expected that with the acrylic paint, but was surprised that the touch-up paint didn't lay flatter.
So, it looks like I will go with the touch-up paint because of the color match provided that I can find a way to polish it enough to bring out a little more shine and get it down to the save level as the surrounding surface.
What's the best way to polish the dish after the paint has cured? Will a fine grit sandpaper (600?) work? Or pumice like they use to polish glass?
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On Wed 19 Nov 2008 10:27:15p, Square Peg told us...

I would start with the pumice first. Even such a fine grit sandpaper might put scratches in the old glaze.
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On Thu, 20 Nov 2008 13:00:45 GMT, Wayne Boatwright

Have you used pumice? What's the best method?
Do I buy it as a powder and use it with a wet cloth?
Should I get a stone or something to take off the little raised areas first?
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On Fri 21 Nov 2008 01:11:07p, Square Peg told us...

Pumice is sold as both as a powder and as a paste. Either will do. A cloth soaked in water then wrung out well works best for the paste. It should be wetter for the powder.
I think you run the risk of damaging the original glaze adjacent to the patch if you use a stone on it. Too easy to slip, IMO.
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wrote:

Wonder if Billy Mays has "Mighty Chipped Ceramic Butter Dish" kit?
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On Sat, 22 Nov 2008 03:58:53 GMT, Wayne Boatwright

I went to a local hardware store. They didn't have pumice except as a rather coarse stone, but they did have rubbing compound is two grits for polishing car paint. I bought a can of the finest and the next finest.
I tried a little of both on the bottom of the butter dish. Neither one scratched the glaze at all. I then tried the finest grit on the face where I had patched the chip and cracks. It slowly removed the touch-up paint. The problem is that on the hairline cracks, it removed all of th touch-up paint. It didn't look like the paint had adhered to the glaze very well. It also did not seep into the hairline cracks, but sat on top. In the chip, it removed the excess paint down to the level of the surface, but it did not leave a smooth edge. Again, the paint did not appear to adhere to the glaze.
The result is much better than a chipped dish, but it is still noticeable and not completely smooth.
I am wondering if I should use something stronger than the touch-up paint, like an tinted epoxy? I think of epoxy as much thicker than paint, so if the paint wouldn't seep into the cracks, would the epoxy?
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On Tue 25 Nov 2008 05:36:50p, Square Peg told us...

Youll never make it look like it didnt happen. Cracks are never likely to absorb a pigment. Paint of any type will rarely adhere to glazed pottery or china, especially if you havent deliberately roughened the surface, which you probably dont want to do. If it were me Id accept the best effort and let it go at that. Some things just are possible. If you wife is expecting more, then shes expecting too much.
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On Wed, 26 Nov 2008 04:25:54 GMT, Wayne Boatwright

It doesn't look too bad as it is -- certainly better than with the chip exposed. And it will be covered up with butter most of the time.
I bought a small jar of acrylic paint. It's a slightly different shade of white and, as you say, it doesn't stick to the glaze very well. If I can match the color a little better, I'd be willing to paint just the inside of the base. I'd roughen up the glaze first.
Bad idea?

She isn't expecting anything. I thought I would surprise her and maybe score a few points. Christmas is coming! ;-)
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Wayne Boatwright wrote:

the piece, the better the odds that it isn't. Short of paying to have it tested, I'd err on the side of caution, and retire the butter dish to a display shelf.
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On Mon 10 Nov 2008 07:09:56p, aemeijers told us...

I never said the glaze on the pottery was lead free. I was referring to the touch-up paint.
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Wayne Boatwright wrote:

mind the patch, what makes you think...'
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On Mon 10 Nov 2008 08:02:48p, aemeijers told us...

Theres always a possibility that a piece of pottery might contain lead, especially an older piece. However, it could be tested if its worth it to the owner. If I had such a favorite piece and had a concern, I would probably go that route.
I have three sets of nesting pottery dishes/bowls that were made in Mexico back in the early 1960s. I would not be at all surprised if the clay contains lead. I rarely use them for anything, but I did read somewhere if lead-containing pottery was used for dry foodstuffs like chips, pretzels, etc., it was not particularly dangerous.
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True. Most problems came from long exposure of acidic foods, such as a pitcher for orange juice where it is stored for a couple of days.
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On Tue, 11 Nov 2008 05:17:23 GMT, Wayne Boatwright

Forgot about that. I know that some blue pottery sold in east TN is radioactive, apparantly from the glaze. Possibly harmful to a fetus. Might have to retire the dish as decoration or use to hold dry food.
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On Mon, 10 Nov 2008 23:28:27 GMT, Wayne Boatwright

It looks like the appliance touch-up paint won't stick to the clay under the glaze. The paint I applied to the chip, chipped out itself.
Before I give up completely, I am thinking about trying some epoxy. I stopped at a local auto parts store and picked up a package or PermaOxy 5 minute epoxy by permatex
    http://www.permatex.com/brand_perma_poxy.htm
It claims to bond ceramic, chrome, fabric, fiberglass, glass, hard plastic, metal, and rubber.
I have a couple of questions:
1. The epoxy is clear. I would like to mix it with a little paint. I would prefer to use the touch-up paint, because the color is closer, at least full strength. I also have the acrylic paint, which it a whiter white.
Is one more likely to mix well with the epoxy?
About how much paint should I use?
Should I mix a little epoxy with each one on an old dish to check the color and hardness?
2. I think part of the reason the touch-up paint didn't stick might have been because the fired clay under the chip wasn't clean. I cleaned it thoroughly with warm water and soap, but it had been sitting under a stick of butter for months. The grease could have seeped into the clay.
I am wondering if I should use some paint thinner or acetone or something?
3. What's the best way to apply the epoxy? I just need a very thin film. It only took 3-4 coats of the touch-up paint to fill the chip.
Should I use a flat head screwdriver?
4. Will I be able to sand/polish it when cured?
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On Thu 04 Dec 2008 07:28:12p, Square Peg told us...

By design, epoxy adhesives are, for the most part, comprised of two materials, the filler and the hardener. They are not likely to mix well with anything else without compromising the curing process. I think youll end up with a mess.

That certainly wouldnt hurt, and would more likely clean any grease content from the chip.

That might work, or a very small palette knife from an arts supply store.

Yes, epoxy can be filed or sanded.
I would suggest cleaning as you suggested above. Then mixing and filling the chip with epoxy. When the epoxy is cured, I would sand the surface not only to flatten it level with the surrounding glaze, but to give it a slightly rough surface for the touch-up paint to adhere to.
Thats probably your best chance. Lordy, I dont have your patience or tenaciousness. :)
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