Pottery made to order | repair and restoration studio in Southern Delaware
18766 John J Williams Hwy Unit 4, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 | 302-339-5498
kintsugi repair - multi colored bizen Jpanese bowl

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Kintsugi: Repairing Broken Ceramic With Gold or Gold Effect

Raku large crackle white bowl with kintsugi repair

The translation from Japanese of kintsugi 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 or the attachment of shards and in so doing giving an aesthetically pleasing and unique way to repair broken pottery. Gold is not the only color of kintsugi repair. Other powdered metals can be used, including silver, brass, bronze or copper. See our process

Lakeside Pottery restored many ceramic objects using the kintsugi process which we have perfected for years. 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 above for estimate request).
  • Purchase pottery and send it to us to be broken and repaired using the kintsugi process
  • Select one of the unbroken pots we have in stock for us to break and apply the kintsugi process. See Custom Kintsugi link above

kintsugi repaired vase - Japanese re birth philosophy

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 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 the beauty of 'imperfection' and loving ourselves, family and friends even with flaws.

Some Examples:

Broken Japanese Sake cup
Kintsugi wabi-sabi philosophySake cup restored - kintsugi mended golden seam
Sake cup restored - side B
kintsugi - bizen pottery broken
Broken Bizen Pottery vase
kintsugi also called Kintsukuroi - bizen pottery restored
Bowl mended w/gold - Kintsukuroi
kintsugi - bizen pottery restored
Kintsugi process complete top view

Broken Japanese bowl
Kintsukuroi - repairing broken pottery with gold
Bowl restored - kintsugi mended
Kintsukuroi or kintsugi gift
Bowl restored - kintsugi mended B
broken wood fired bowl prior to kintsugi repair
Broken "Wabi-sabi" teabowl
kintsugi restored wood fired tea bowl
Teabowl restored with gold view A
kintsugi restoring ceramic better than new
Teabowl restored with gold view B
Kintsugi Yobitsugi wabi-sabi style repair
Kintsugi Yobitsugi style repair
Kintsukuroi art - Yobitsugi style repair
Kintsugi: Substituting missing pieces
Kintsukuroi art - Yobitsugi style repair using other ceramic pieces
Can use pieces you provide

Kintsugi Art Technique - Options to Choose From:

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 repair wabi-sabi
Kintsugi Makienaoshi style
Kintsugi Yobitsugi style repair
Kintsugi Yobitsugi repair
Kintsugi using silver color
Kintsugi - silver

One of the steps

Our Choices of Metals:





Our 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 that 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 (less than 1/6 of pure gold), 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. 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.

Care Instructions

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
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 Bernardaud L'Art de la Table Kintsugi by Sarkis Coupe -Kintsugi

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. Fortunately, once it dries and hardens the toxic effects of the urushi oil are essentially nullified, making the lacquer ware safe to handle. 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".

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