Kintsugi: Repairing Broken Ceramic With Gold or Gold Effect
Japanese Kintsukuroi Chawan
The translation from Japanese of kintsugi (also called Kintsukuroi) means "golden joinery" or "to patch with gold". Some refer to it as Kintsugi art or to it's metaphor - "kintsugi life" or "wabi-sabi" philosophy. This technique transforms broken ceramic or china vessels into beautiful works of art and to its new life using gold with lacquer or epoxy to enhance breaks giving the broken pottery an aesthetically pleasing and unique presentation.
Lakeside Pottery Studio restored wide range of ceramic objects using our Kintsugi process which we have perfected for years. Most kintsugi art made on carefully selected ceramic vessels made by hand in our pottery studio or purchased from Japan. To obtain a Kintsugi effect restored item, one can use one of these four options:
Visit our kintsugi for sale gallery to choose one of the already made Kintsugi art items
Apply the kintsugi process to your already broken item (see link for estimate)
Purchase pottery and send it to us to be broken and Kintsugi repaired
Japanese kintsugi or Kintsukuroi art repair: Most of our restoration customers would like the damage to their broken item to be concealed and hidden by the repair making it "look as new." An alternative to masking the repair could be a restoration in which the damage is incorporated into the aesthetic of the restored item and becomes artistically "better than new." This sometimes adds value as in the Japanese kintsugi repair method (more about kintsugi below). This option is often a less costly repair than our "invisible" or "seamless" (Mid or Best Levels) restoration offerings. Best candidates for the kintsugi style repair are: Far east ceramic, Wood Fired pottery, Native American pottery, Satsuma pottery, Raku and Bonsai pots or trays.
Kintsugi Art Metaphor: "Mending Broken Pottery With Gold" What Can We Learn From a Broken Pot?
Kintsugi, as the practice is known, gives new life, healing or rebirth to damaged or aging ceramic objects by celebrating their flaws and history. One can consider how we might live a kintsugi life, finding value in the, missing pieces, cracks and chips – bringing to light the scars that have come from life experiences, finding new purpose through aging and loss, seeing love and the beauty of 'imperfection' and loving ourselves, family and friends even with flaws.
In addition to the straight gold line along the repair areas, there are other styles of gold repair. If the broken piece is missing a section, it can be repaired with a technique known as makienaoshi. This is where gold replaces the lost section and is decorated with the texture or design complementing the pattern of the item. Another related gold repair is called yobitsugi where ceramic parts from a different and unrelated vessel are glued into the broken or missing area of the restored piece.
Kintsugi Makienaoshi style
Kintsugi Yobitsugi repair using agate gemstone
Kintsugi - silver
One of the steps
Our Choices of Metals:
Our Kintsugi Effect Process
Today, thanks to polymer technology and fine metal grinding techniques, kintsugi repair can be accomplished, keeping within the traditional concept but with state of the art process and materials. These materials are stronger and have greater longevity than the ancient lacquer methodology. We do use real gold application but most of our work uses "Gold effect" metal powder in place of pure gold leaf or powder applied in the traditional way. Not only is there a large price difference, there is negligible, if any, visual difference between the two methods. We use a proprietary mix of metals encapsulated within a oxygen-free and water-resistant clear compound, which is highly resistant to scratches and any sort of erosion - much more resilient than real gold application. The gold effect is created with a mix of pure brass, copper and zinc, the silver effect is aluminum powder, the bronze is bronze powder, the copper is copper powder.
To keep the restoration quality intact for years and the guarantee valid, please insure the following: Do not wash or use liquids, do not use it with food or temperatures above 150 degrees F. The restored item is for display only. If cleaning is required, you can use damp soft cloth applied gently without scrubbing.
Be Aware of Kintsugi imitations:
When choosing kintsugi art, note there are other imitated implementation methods of Kintsugi as shown below.
a) Kintsugi imitation: using gold paint brushed over the seam
b) Kintsugi imitation: gold color is mixed with the bonding glue often purchased as "Kintsugi repair kit"
c) Kintsugi imitation: Gold effect is painted on without the item being broken first; e.g., Bernardaud, Sarkis Coupe plate set using gold color or glaze silkscreened on sold by bloomingdales
More about kintsugi art: Kintsugi is said to have originated in the 15th century when a Japanese shogun broke a favorite tea bowl and sent it back to China to be fixed. But the repair job, which was done with metal staples (being the standard for repair at that time), detracted from the beauty of the bowl. Disappointed, the shogun enlisted Japanese craftsmen to come up with a more aesthetically pleasing solution. Kintsugi was born.
Although kintsugi repair makes it appear as though the original piece was mended with gold, the original process is essentially a form of lacquer art. Broken pieces are glued back together using urushi lacquer, derived from the sap of the Chinese lacquer tree. The final layer of urushi is covered with fine gold powder and then burnished. The collection of the sap and processing of the urushi oil is difficult because of its toxicity. Today, thanks to modern polymer technology, kintsugi style repair can be accomplished with state of the art materials that are stronger and have greater longevity than the traditional lacquer methodology. Real gold powder can be used but due the price of gold, it is cost prohibitive for most customers.
Note: Some might be able to perform a basic kintsugi repair with a modern method using kintsugi repair kit available (search the web under "kintsugi kit".