A ceramics restorer from York was making people cry long before BBC's The Repair Shop

An ornament that is older than the hills, has an ear missing, cracks covered in glue and still takes pride of place on the mantle-piece - every home has got one.

For Kate Smith, a professional ceramic restorer, it is her job to put these sentimental tokens of childhood and family back together for many years and more repairs to come.

The York-based craftswoman fell into the job of ceramic restoration quite by chance after trends in society and culture changed, which meant there was less demand for her original job in heritage sculpture making models and busts for The Jorvik museum.

She said: “People didn’t want models, they wanted technology, science, computer stuff so the work became less and less.

Kate Smith, Cracked Pots Antique Restorer, based in York. Kate restores ceramic antiques even those which are in many pieces similar to that of a jigsaw, taking great time removing old glue and carefully rebuilding the item to a pristine condition.

“My mum had a friend who thought being a ceramic restorer would suit me.

“It is mostly sentimental value. If I had a pound for everyone who said ‘it is not worth anything’, I would have retired years ago.

“They are things people have around the house that they love, were given by grandparents or as a child and have been repaired badly over the years by grandpa with some glue.”

Other requests are a bit more unusual.

Under the microscope - restoration of old family heirlooms can be a pain-staking and time consuming process for Kate Smith, the founder of Cracked Pots.

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Ms Smith is always asked by customers how long will it take to repair a piece, “how long is a piece of string?”, she says.

Simpler jobs end up being the trickiest and painstaking ones turn out to be much quicker.

On one occasion she broke the piece she was restoring and another, where she was delivering a repaired item back to a customer, she accidentally flung the box spinning through the air which landed in the dog’s water bowl. Luckily it was well wrapped.

She uses varnishes and glazes to recreate the ceramic look and models any missing or broken bits.

Having attended art college, then a degree in applied arts and evening courses in metal work and textiles there is not much she can’t turn her hand to and her skills led to her being asked to take part in an idea for a new television show.

The Repair Shop is currently airing on BBC 1 and now is in its ninth series - but Ms Smith doesn’t regret turning it down.

She added: “They rang a few weeks before it went into production. At this time I had never seen the show and had no idea what happened but said you can’t have ceramic restoration with metal work. It was my busiest time of year and said no.

“I am OK about it and don’t regret it and still get masses of work. People realise now you can have things repaired whereas in the past they might not.

“People have burst into tears - for good reason. Mostly they can’t remember where the repair was which is what you want.”