Kintsugi: A how to guide

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We know all too well that using ceramics over time involve some of them becoming chipped or broken. Instead of throwing them away there is an alternative, a Japanese practice that highlights and enhances the breaks thus adding value to the broken object.

It’s called kintsugi , or kintsukuroi , literally golden (“kin”) and repair (“tsugi”).

Kintsugi is the process of repairing ceramics traditionally with lacquer and gold, leaving a gold seam where the cracks were.

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The technique consists in joining fragments and giving them a new, more refined aspect. Every repaired piece is unique, because of the randomness with which ceramics shatters and the irregular patterns formed that are enhanced with the use of metals.

We feel that the kintsugi technique suggests many things. We shouldn’t throw away broken objects. When an object breaks, it doesn’t mean that it is no more useful. We should try to repair things because sometimes in doing so we
obtain more valuable objects.

We are going to try two slightly different approaches that are not traditional but will hopefully have similar visual results, because gold is expensive. This blog post will concentrate on the first approach.

After using the following techniques to repair the ceramic, it is not recommended to be used with food and drink. You could always use another planter or jewelry bowl.

This takes practice, your first few attempts might not be something to brag about but with time your skills will be formidable. 

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Approach 01
What you will need

Broken ceramic object
Epoxy two part adhesive
Lollypop sticks
Plastic work surface
Gold mika powder

Make sure the broken pieces of ceramic and cleaned and dry.
Put the pieces together loosely so you are aware each piece belongs. This approach works better with one clean break but can also with a small about of pieces (say 2-4)

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To attach the pieces together. Mix the epoxy together using the stick and then add a little of the power, the mix will harden soon to one the power is sufficiently mixed with the epoxy, spread some to one edge of a piece.

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If the edge is pretty long then you will have to work quickly as the epoxy will begin to set. You will want to be somewhat generous as when you attach the other piece, some of the epoxy will spill out of the join/seam. You want enough epoxy so that the crack is covered but not so much that it drips out. You should work one or two pieces at a time. This can be a long process so patience is key.

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Hold the pieces together until the epoxy hardens, this can take a few minutes. Don't touch the seam as even though it seems dry it can be tacky and you will end up smudging it or leaving prints.

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Then when all the pieces have been joined together leave for a few hours (depending on the epoxy instructions) to completely set.

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Here are a first few attempts, nice huh?


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This one didn't work out so well, mainly because it was in too many pieces and I wasn't experienced enough. I spent a couple of weeks on and off before I decided to throw in the towel.

I had been looking forward to trying kintsugi for a couple of years now so I was quite relieved to get it started.

Whenever an item broke in the office, it was swiftly delivered to my desk aka the 'hospital'. The collection of broken Nom items was getting a bit too much in the office so I had to get started repairing them.

This process took a lot longer than I expected as I was learning from scratch but the collective results far outweighed the odd failures.

So now we have a few extra planters around, I might give some away.

My second approach will be published soon so keep an eye out.




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