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How to Repair a Bakelite Cherry Brooch

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

how to fix a bakelite cherry brooch

Some of you might remember my beautiful Bakelite cherry brooch from Pj for Christmas. When I got it, the stems had seen better days. One of the stems fell off on the first day that I wore it so I knew they would have to be fixed.  Then, Olivia got her hands on it and picked every cherry from the base. Ah, the joys of motherhood.

Many Bakelite cherry brooches have stem damage- some worse than others. If your cherries are holding on for dear life (or have surrendered to age and dropped off) you can replace the stems. Original stems probably make the piece worth more to collectors but to me, a brooch with new stems is worth more than a brooch with no cherries!
how to fix a bakelite cherry brooch

Stem Removal
Pull the remaining cherries from the base (if there's damage to the remaining stems)and chip away the lacquer and glue on the back of the base where the stems are glued in. Use a pair of tweezers, pull the stems from the cherry. Some of the stem may remain down inside of the cherry. I used a long, thick sewing needle to scrape out that leftover bit.
how to fix a bakelite cherry brooch

Drilling the cherries out
 Using a tiny drill bit, slowly and very carefully drill down into the hole. I attached my bit to a handle and spun the bit by hand. Using a power drill could drill too deep. I marked my drill bit at 1/4 inch so I could see how deep I was drilling. Take this slow and easy so the cherry doesn't get destroyed. Be sure to wear a dust mask while drilling or filing Bakelite. Drilling will help to get those last scraps of stem out and will create a clean space for a new stem.

Making new stems
 My original stems were made of cotton string covered in some kind of lacquer. I experimented with a few coatings on string but nothing worked like the original. I found this green electrical wire at a local hardware store. Small hardware stores have a better selection of these things than big home improvement warehouses. Bring a cherry along to make sure it fits in the hole. This wire is very cheap and is sold by the foot. I suggest a foot and a half just so you have more than enough



Cut the wire to various lengths and glue into the cherries. I used Weldbond but E6000 also works beautifully on Bakelite. Look for a clear-drying glue that works on non-porous surfaces. Let the glue dry till tacky, then wipe off the excess. EDIT: 2 part slow dry epoxy is really much better for repairing broken bakelite. I've used it on bangles broken in 4 parts and they wear like they're brand new.

 
Attaching Cherries to the Base
Allow the glue dry completely and insert stems into the base. My 6 cherry stems didn't fit into the base so I used a very small, round file to make the hole a bit bigger.



Insert all stems, arrange the cherries into place. I made my stems a bit longer than I needed so that they could be trimmed during this step.



Squeeze a little glue into each end of the hole in the base and wipe off the excess from the cherries and the base. Check the directions on your glue for dry and cure time.

how to fix a bakelite cherry brooch

That's all there is to it! Now you can wear your brooch without fear of losing one of those precious cherries.

how to fix a bakelite cherry brooch


For other posts on Bakelite:

14 Responses to “How to Repair a Bakelite Cherry Brooch”

  1. Nice job! What a super cute brooch.

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  2. Brilliant post! I love information on mending things that can be worn and loved again

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  3. I do love this brooch & am so pleased you were able to rescue it :)

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  4. OMG ... I look at your older barkelite post ... and I love it so much.

    In Germany barkelite isn´t very popular and when you found a real one than it´s soooo expensive. I saw barcelets at a online antique shop which look like yours for 140,00 EUR(round about 175,00 US$) ... FOR ONLY ONE .... uffz ... tooooo much.

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  5. Great job..Looks fantastic..Love this brooch.

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  6. So clever of you! I love that you can take something so old and give it more of a lifespan! Its super duper cute too!! xox

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  7. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I could huge you a million times. I purchased 2 brooches that disintegrated upon arrival :( I have been keeping them just in case I can figure a way to fix them. This is great!

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  8. This is so totally relevant for me - one of my cherries just popped off my new brooch before I even got to wear it! I was going to pay to airmail it to Texas for repair, but I think i'll give it a go myself after seeing yours!
    x

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  9. Fantastic post and a great repair job. I can see why you love your cherries brooch. It is corker.

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  10. You are so awesomely talented and clever, dear gal. Fantastic tutorial, thanks so much for posting this!


    ♥ Jessica

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  11. Wonderful post! I've got a cherry brooch and a necklace that both need to be repaired, I'm glad you posted this fab tutorial :-)

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  12. I saw on Antiques Roadshow that it doesn't devalue these when you replace the stems, but it should be done with a better quality repair than plastic covered electrical wire, IMHO.
    I found some round real leather thong material in a do-it-yourself jewelry and bead store that was the perfect diameter and matched my leaves exactly in color, and I didn't have to do any drilling at all. The new stems are nice and flexible, and look like they were made to be there.

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    1. I'm so glad to hear that new stems doesn't devalue the piece! How did you remove the stem pieces that were stuck deep inside of your cherries? My stems broke off right at the cherry so scraping and drilling was really my only option since I couldn't find any other tutorials on the subject :P Luckily my drill bit was the exact size of the existing hole so it didn't make the hole any bigger. Any tips you have would be greatly appreciated! I did try leather string for my stems and I personally wouldn't recommend it. Although it does look nice, leather that thin could easily snap and since it's a natural material, it deteriorates over time. Any glue in direct contact with the leather makes it brittle. Since I wrote this tutorial for a variety of people, I tried to find a material that would be suitable for different moral preferences too and leather isn't vegan/vegetarian friendly. I've seen other bakelite brooches with wire stems and if you look hard enough, you can find some that are flexible like the kind I used.

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