The world is full of china that still has beauty that either can’t be used for serving anymore or is past it’s prime, usually because of condition flaws like:
Crazing: China with crazing in the top clear coat glaze should not be used for eating. Crazing looks like a series of fine cracks–sometimes you need to tip the plate in the light to see it. The clear coat is what makes the surface of the plate safe to eat on, it seals in the colors and decoration underneath it. Once that layer has cracks, it’s time to retire the china.
Cracks: A hairline crack can cause a plate to fail quite unexpectedly. No one wants to wind up with a lap full of meatloaf and smashed potatoes.
Chips: As someone once told me, the hostess uses the chipped plate. Which is true. Chipped plates with no sharp edges are fine to use, but sometimes they are voted off the island for their lack of eye appeal.
Cutlery marks: Favorite china often has a lot of knife marks and wear in the center. But the edges are usually just fine.
Calamity: Wet hands, slippery plate. Get the dust pan and brush, but save those bits.
Luckily, creative souls have found interesting things to do with china that’s shabby but not chic anymore. Here are 5 ideas that make china into art:
Kitty and Jennifer, the sisters behind the blog Running with Sisters have a wonderfully detailed tutorial for how to turn china into small pieces that can be made into colorful mosaic flower pots. The same techniques could certainly work on other surfaces like tabletops.
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China Necklaces and Pendants
Decorative china often has an elements that then cropped and framed make beautiful jewelry. Interweave has a detailed tutorial by Laura Beth Love for turning an part of a plate rim into a statement necklace.
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Take advantage of a plate with a pretty border by turning it into a pretty memo board with this tutorial from Women’s Day magazine.
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China Stack Lamp
This pretty has been on my personal to-do list for years. Vintage Revivals spunky/fierce instructions for turning stray bits of crockery into a funky family heirloom make me want to run for my drill to start creating.
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Words have power and so do Sharpies. That go everywhere, do everything marker is up to the task once again, transforming plates into art with something to say. Tutorial by Angel in the North.
Last china bits
A badly damaged piece of china is also a perfect candidate for experimenting with drilling techniques. If you’re considering creating a tiered organizer, for example, best to experiment on an expendable piece of china so you don’t inadvertently turn a pretty plate into a pretty sad pile of shards.
Look for china at thrift stores and flea markets. And, because it never hurts to ask, check in with local vintage and consignment shops that sell china. China pieces that are damaged are often discarded rather than reduce the quality of a set. They might be happy to set those pieces aside for you.