Kintsugi: fix broken pottery with gold

kintsugi bowl

kintsugi bowl

Did you ever break something? Maybe when you were little, knocking over grandma’s favorite vase? Oops. Although your grandma probably (hopefully) liked you more than the vase, you could throw it away. Not in Japan! There broken pottery is a real form of art. 

Credit: PD-Japan-oldphoto

Although you’ll have to glue it together again first. Yeah, no kidding. The tradition has been there since the 16th century and it’s called Kintsugi (also called Kintsukuroi or golden repair). Instead of hiding the cracks, you decorate them so that they’ll stand out more.

kintsugi cup

Credit: Humade

History of the Kintsugi technique

There’s a rumour about the Kintsugi-technique that is was thought of by the emperor. When he send his pottery back to China for some repairs, his craftsmen came back with ordinairy glued pieces. He ordered the repairs to be more pleasing to the eye, so gold was chosen to ‘glue’ the porcelain together.

Kintsugi technique applied

This so-called ‘art’ became so popular (you know, when the emperor likes it..) some collectors even broke their pottery on purpose so they could mend it with gold. The golden seams were created using lacquer resin, rice glue and powdered gold (or silver or platinum) and gave the broken pottery a new life.

new kintsugi technique

Credit: Humade

New Kintsugi technique

Would you like to learn this technique yourself? That’s certainly possible! With ‘New kintsugi’ as it’s called the old technique is combined with new technology. The idea behind this technique is that you won’t try to ‘glue’ it together perfectly, but slightly messy. You will emphasize the cracks of the porcelain (or other broken pottery) so it looks nice in a whole new way. Besides porselain you can try the New kintsugi repair kit on almost any other material. Want to read more about the technique? The book “The Joy Of Kintsugi” – Urushi Lacquer Handbook offers multiple examples and techniques.

Looks interesting right? Get creative!

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