Kintsugi and handmade ceramics are connected, both literally and figuratively. Kintsugi is an ancient Japanese tradition. It literally means “golden connection” and is also called “kintsukuroi” or “gold repair”.
But there is also an aesthetic connection. Kintsugi is the artisanal repair of broken ceramics with gold. The repair is not hidden, but proudly shown.
I find that a nice touch. An aesthetic in line with Wabi-Sabi, the beauty of impermanence. When something is broken, don’t throw it away, but take the trouble to collect the shards and make it whole again. Not as invisible as possible. No, accentuate the scars of impermanence.
It flashed through my mind when I got a broken mug of mine returned. A mug I made about 20 years ago. Can you fix this? …
Handmade ceramics a friend for life
Ceramics are one of the oldest and strongest “man made” materials. It can survive for decades, it can be shattered in a split second. A handmade mug can become a friend for life, but this friendship can just as easily end in a moments notice.
That 20 year old mug had become such a companion. The son of a friend of mine grew up with that mug. All his life, he drank his tea from it. When a shard broke off, he didn’t want to say goodbye.
Kintsugi: upcycling in Japanese style
Handmade ceramics, also means unique. If it breaks it can’t be replaced. Barely a week later, a piece of my girlfriend’s dinner plate also broke off. This plate wasn’t from my hand, but from a fellow ceramist from France. More then ten years of daily use had made it dear to us.
Unique ceramics may not be replaceable… but it can be repaired. Or better yet: upcycled in Japanese style. I had already repaired and returned my old mug (my lifetime warranty). But for this blog I documented the repair of our dinner plate.
Impermanence is not something to hide, camouflage or forget. No, you have to celebrate it. Accentuate the traces of life with gold. That’s the way to show how important that piece is to you.
From centuries-old craft to repair kit
The Kintsugi technique dates back to the Muromachi period (1336-1573), when the Makie lacquer technique with gold powder was incorporated into the repair process. According to the authentic technique, glue is made by mixing Urushi lacquer with soil, wood powder or wheat flour (from: Yoko Furuya – “Kintsugi: Invitation to the Handwork of Kintsugi“)
Well, I am not a (ceramic) restaurateur and certainly not a kintsugi master, but a repair “in the spirit of” this ancient craft I dared to do. There are even ready-made “Kintsugi repair kits”, but gold (colored) powder and epoxy glue goes a long way.
I know, this is not a real kintsugi repair. But this way we can enjoy our dinner plate again and I do not have to go into the apprenticeship of a kintsugi master for several years .
Life is transient, but I also like to enjoy the progress (while I still can 🙂 .
This post is also available in / Dit bericht is ook beschikbaar in: Dutch