It can be absolutely devastating breaking your favorite ceramic dish or vase, especially if it was vintage or a family heirloom. But before you throw out your dish, look to kintsugi, a centuries-old Japanese art of repairing broken dishes with gold. While of course you likely won’t use real gold, the thought behind kintsugi is to transform something broken and appreciate it for its new beauty as a broken object. The cracks are filled with the gold to acknowledge this beauty and transform the object into a new work of art.
Kintsugi dates back to the 1400s when according to legend, a shogun broke his favorite Chinese tea bowl. He returned it to China for repair only for it to be fixed with ugly staples. Looking for an elegant way to repair this bowl, the art of Kintsugi was born. While it was traditionally mended with urushi lacquer and rice flour (and real gold!) these days you can DIY your own kintsugi repair with this step-by-step guide to kintsugi
Kintsugi pottery art only takes about 20-30 minutes total to create and only requires a few materials to get started. If you don’t have any broken dishes but want to give this tutorial a try, you can easily break a ceramic in a controlled environment by placing the dish in a paper bag and hammering it gently. You can also cover it with masking tape and tap gently in the spaces you want it to break.
Once you have your dish, you’ll want to gather the other materials. This includes a ceramic adhesive of your choice (they recommend epoxy resin) and either a gold powder like mica powder, or a liquid gold leaf. Depending on what gold you choose will determine how you’ll approach Kintsugi. You can also choose between different kintsugi methods based on how your object broke. If it’s missing pieces, you can use the makienaoshi method, which fills in the cracks with gold. Or if you have two broken objects you can combine them in a joint method for a more mosaic style piece! The best part is you really can’t get kintsugi wrong since it’s all about appreciating the imperfections of the process.