Glass reassembly help needed
August 4, 2011 1:17 PM   Subscribe

How do I support the pieces of a hollow glass item from the inside as I put it back together? And what's the best adhesive?

One of the kids broke a treasured, old, gift-from-the-late-greatgrandpa glass item, and I am trying to reassemble it. I figured out where all the pieces go by putting some Play-Dough inside the thing and dry-fitting it, and I am smugly satisfied about that. But now I need to contrive some means of support for those pieces during the reassembly -- support which can be removed when I am done.

The tricky part: the item is a pig-shaped piggy bank, a little larger than a lemon, and the only opening is a thick slot on the top about the width & length of an Eiesenhower Dollar coin. (Nope, no hole in the base.) The glass is terribly thin, too.

Does anyone have tricks for supporting the reconstruction of a fragile item like this?

And what kind of adhesive can I use? Krazy Glue is my universal repair solution (viz., it fixes everything, and glues shut the lips of anyone who says otherwise), but perhaps someone who isn't a hack like me can make a better suggestion.

Thanks, and remember: we're doing it for the pig!
posted by wenestvedt to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
I would keep using play dough but do it in two halves. Then when each of them is solid, remove the play dough and just stick the halves together. Only glueing one joint, even a long one, should be pretty doable without any internal support.
posted by shelleycat at 1:27 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

So, without seeing pictures..

I wouldn't use any internal support at all. What I would do is get a bucket of sand and support the piggy bank so that the break is facing upward. If you balance it right, gravity will hold it in place.

This is making the assumption that the head is broken off and the piece itself isn't broken into many shattered bits as would happen when a hammer meets a piggy bank.
posted by royalsong at 1:29 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hxtal is the glass conservationist's epoxy of choice.
posted by princelyfox at 1:38 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

A water balloon? You could pop it and pull it out once everything is dry. Shellycat's idea to do it in pieces is great.
posted by phunniemee at 1:41 PM on August 4, 2011

I agree with Shelleycat also - patiently use your (clever) Playdoh/KrazyGlue method until you have pieces big and stable enough to stick together without the Playdoh.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:58 PM on August 4, 2011

I really want to discourage the crazy glue. Gluing glass well is hard. I only glue flat stained glass so can't comment much on objects, but if you're going through the trouble to piece your pig back together, use hxtal or something similar. You want a epoxy for the job and one that shares the refractive index of glass. Anything else will yellow or go opaque especially if gets direct sunlight.
posted by princelyfox at 2:53 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could also try to make a dough out of flour and water to hold it in the short term and then dissolve it out when you are done.
posted by advicepig at 2:55 PM on August 4, 2011

Cyanoacrylates like Krazy Glue might fog the glass.
posted by rhizome at 4:45 PM on August 4, 2011

Whoops, I left out a salient fact: just one of the pig's thighs (ham?) is smashed in. So the hole isn't very big -- not quite two inches across -- but the area is curved so it's not self-supporting. (This also means that some faces of the break face outward, which makes it tricky to put back together at all.) And it's pebbled so lining things up is important. At least the uneven brown coloring won't require perfection...

The idea of a balloon is pretty amazingly good, and honestly why I posted here. :7) Keep 'wm coming!

Now you mention it, rhizome, I have noticed that hazing in the past. And thank you for the suggestion of using this Hxtal stuff, Your Highness Fox. Is it as hard to find as the web site suggests? Say, I could call the Rhode Island School of Design bookstore across town and ask them if they have any!
posted by wenestvedt at 6:18 AM on August 5, 2011

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