As you mop up from the holidays, it’s a good time to take stock of any damage that may have been done to your entertaining essentials.
Inspect your dinner plates, wineglasses, flatware, tablecloths and napkins, as well as your serving pieces, to see whether you need any repair work done. Or perhaps you should budget for some additional salad plates or water goblets for next year. Maybe your menorah has one wobbly holder that needs to be reattached. Perhaps your grandmother’s damask tablecloth has a small tear that should be mended.
The post-holiday period is one of the busiest times for Replacements Ltd., the behemoth of old and new china, crystal and silver patterns. The company in McLeansville, N.C., has been in business almost 35 years and stocks a warehouse the size of eight football fields with 12 million pieces. It also has a restoration department that repairs flatware, crystal and china.
The busiest time for Replacements is October through January. Customers order extra plates and cordial glasses, and then the hotline staff gears up for the post-holiday emergency calls, according to spokeswoman Lisa Conklin.
“The day after Thanksgiving is huge,” Conklin says. “And on the weekend after Christmas we received lots of calls from people wanting to replace pieces they had broken themselves. Then there are those who were at someone else’s home and broke something belonging to their host. They all want to get it replaced before the next round of entertaining.”
We came up with a list of scenarios you might be dealing with as you put away your Wedgwood and Waterford until perhaps Valentine’s Day or Easter. Here’s what the experts suggested:
▪ A shattered dinner plate: At Replacements, many people who call after the holidays don’t even know the name of their china pattern. But if you email a photo to the company, the research department can help identify your pattern and let you know whether it’s in stock. The company carries more than 284,000 china patterns. If it doesn’t have your particular piece, it will keep it on a search list and notify you when it’s in stock.
▪ A mangled fork: All hope is not lost, according to John Peel, silversmith at Hiles Precious Metal Plating and Silversmiths in Kansas City. He recently had a client bring in a spoon that got caught in a garbage disposal over the holidays. He was able to reshape it and polish out most marks, but noted that it will most likely be a lot shinier and nicer-looking than the owner’s other old flatware. This type of repair usually starts at $25 and goes up.
▪ A chipped crystal champagne flute: Grinding crystal is risky business: If there is a hairline crack in the crystal that you don’t see, your glass may break on the wheel, according to Joshua Brettell, a restoration expert at Awesome Metal Restorations in Kensington, Md. But if you have a simple chip on the rim of a wineglass, chances are it can be smoothed out. At Replacements, crystal repair starts at $16 plus the cost of round-trip shipping to North Carolina.
▪ A burned copper saucepan: Peel says he can probably save your pot and polish up the outside to make it look beautiful. He can also replace the lining if needed. The cost would depend on the size of the pot and the damage, though prices usually start about $65.
▪ A chipped platter: The problem with fixing a piece of porcelain or pottery is that the repair will probably make it unsuitable for serving food. If your piece is sentimental or decorative or both, you might want to have it repaired anyway. The charge for gluing a simple chip at Replacements would be about $20 to $40, Conklin says. More complicated repairs would be priced higher and might cost more than replacing the piece.
▪ Burned or torn table linens: Scorching — say, from an iron — can be very bad news for your linens, according to Deborah Payne, vice president of the Vintage Tablecloth Lovers Club, a group of collectors and dealers who in 2002 founded their group to exchange information on finding and preserving cloths from the 1930s to 1970s.
Payne says members have shared their best linen-care tips on the club’s website (vintagetableclothsclub.com).
“Scorching permanently damages the fabric,” the website states. “The heat burns and weakens the fibers, and can also melt manufactured fibers, such as polyester. If the damage is slight, you might be able to improve the look. Brush the area to remove any charring. If the tablecloth is washable, rub liquid detergent into the scorched area. Launder. If the stain remains, bleach with an all-fabric nonchlorine bleach.”
As for tears, check with your dry cleaner or alterations expert regarding mending services. Don’t let a tear or worn-out patch get worse year to year.
The Star’s Cynthia Billhartz Gregorian contributed to this report.