Photo by Isaac Harrell
Gina Bradley, owner of Bradley Creations et cetera, was one of those kids who liked to know how things work. Taking a radio apart and reassembling it was her kind of fun. A native of Salem, in southwest Virginia, she says, "I grew up with an X-Acto knife in my hand, working with my father on his model railroad miniature village, learning how to make things from scratch."
Now, she says, housekeepers and cats keep her busy as they inadvertently knock breakables off shelves and tables. Bradley saves the day with her expert repair skills — blending just the right color to make a seamless match or recreating a missing piece. From Lladro to Limoges, Staffordshire to McCoy, she's able to make all kinds of breakables, both valuable and sentimental, look like new.
R•Home: How did you get started?
Gina Bradley: I've always been a little bit of an artistic MacGyver [a resourceful TV character in the '80s and early '90s able to solve problems with whatever he had on hand]. I learned to fix things early on and have always liked the challenge of fixing something well enough that you can't see where it was broken.
R•Home: What kinds of things have you repaired?
Bradley: You name it — dishes, vases, pots, art, statues. I've fixed sculptures, Asian imports, porcelain, bisque, china, stoneware, clay, pottery and even some wood.
R•Home: What about the possibility that a customer might try to pass off an item you've repaired as a never-been-broken piece?
Bradley: That's the one ethical problem about doing a great repair job. Collectors know, though, about the blacklight test — holding a blacklight up to the piece, you can see where it's been repaired. Also, if you plink it with your finger, it will make a different noise. With every piece I repair, I offer a certificate that states it's been professionally repaired — for full disclosure.
R•Home: Do you worry about handling really valuable items?
Bradley: No, actually I don't. Many of the items I fix are things that are usually behind glass only. In the beginning, I was a little intimidated, but I've done so many repairs that now I have the mentality of "Hey, I can fix this." And I've never broken a piece.
R•Home: Anything we should know about when we break things?
Bradley: Try to pick up every piece — but if there's a missing piece, I can make another one. Super Glue and Gorilla Glue are the nemeses of my trade. Super Glue is not good for porcelain and china, and Gorilla Glue foams up. They have to be removed before I can repair [an item].
R•Home: How does it feel to return a repaired item to its owner?
Bradley: That's the satisfaction that I get out of this. There was a grandmother who made ceramic villages for Christmas. One had a tiny lamp post that broke, and she was heartbroken. Her granddaughter brought it to me, and I fixed it and made it so it would stand up straight. When it was returned to her, she was almost in tears. I really get enjoyment out of that — when people break things they often throw them in the trash or put it away, but if they bring them to me to fix … now they're on the shelf again to enjoy.
For more information, visit bradleycreationsetcetera.com .