Occasional Posts

Kintsugi – The art of mending

Of course we all need to be a little more concerned for Johnny Polar Bear. Coastal sites are at risk of flooding, ice caps are melting and the weather is being super unpredictable right now.

Also, that’s my segue into Kintsugi. Last week I broke a serving plate. Normally that would be that, but it was one of my partner’s favorites and we only had four of them. She’s into sustainability and environmentalism and I thought I could impress her by ability to not just repair the plate but also make it look fabulous.

So what is it?

Kintsugi is a Japanese method of repairing a broken object (originally pottery) by fixing the pieces together with a lacquer mixed with gold or silver dust. There’s a story that says that Kintsugi started when a Japanese emperor broke a prized pot and asked his artisans to mend it. They sent him back the pot but it was mended with iron staples and was hideous to look at. He sent it back and asked them to make it more beautiful, thus the art of kintsugi was born. Literally meaning Golden (kint) and Joinery (sugi).

The tale goes that the piece that they sent back had veins of gold through it and looked way better than what the emperor had before. It became his most prized possession. Other officials and high ranking members of society began to emulate what the emperor did and even went so far as to break valuable pieces of pottery in order to make them more aesthetically pleasing.

The setup

You’ll need the following

  • clear epoxy – you want something that’s fairly quick drying, but not by too much. Search for two component glue or epoxy lim. I used the Bison 5 minutes epoxy.
  • gold dust. Ideally this is food grade.
  • some gloves
  • disposable sticks (popsicle sticks work)
  • a small paint brush

The set

Mix as much epoxy as required as per their instructions and add some gold dust to the mixture. Blend it in so that the color becomes uniform.

Apply the mixture to both sides of the piece being joined. Apply some light pressure and wait. Before the epoxy dries (and is still malleable) wipe off any imperfections you have. During the same stage, add some gold dust to the ‘veins’ using the brush.

Set aside to dry and repeat with the other parts.

Note: Apply the epoxy to the larger pieces first, it makes it a whole lot easier to properly align it.

The result

Not too shabby. A plate saved, and the environment looked after.