How to Repair Your Broken Ceramics with Kintsugi

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Known as Kintsukuroi, Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold in order to highlight the imperfections caused by the breakage. Traditionally, you would use liquid silver, liquid gold, or lacquer with powdered gold to join broken pieces and decorate them. Repairing a broken object gives it new life.

This is a concept I really love and appreciate. We can all learn from the idea that broken things should be displayed with pride instead of hidden. Every item has its own unique quality because you never know how it will break, so every piece is unique.

During college I studied abroad in London and purchased this vintage tea cup at the Greenwich market. It is very sentimental to me and I have always kept it on top of my tall dresser as it is a “cat safe” spot for me. My mistake. I went to London for work last fall and the cats rebelled. Because I hate leaving them for that long, and they feel the same way, they broke my teacup by knocking it off the dresser. I have been unsure of what to do The pieces were saved and I wasn’t sure what to do with them, and I had hoped there would be a pretty way to put it back together

 

Broken Ceramic

Tips & Tricks

  • Wear a rubber glove on the hand holding the glue-covered pieces. While squeezing the items together, I accidentally stuck my hand to the cup. It took me 30 minutes to wash my hand. That was embarrassing.

  • Many types of glue can be used, but I recommend using water-resistant glue if it’s a mug or similar item that will be used rather than just displayed

  • Make sure the glue is clear (so no gorilla glue).

  • Ensure it is quick-setting, meaning it takes less than 10 minutes, but not instant like hot glue. The pieces will have to be held together for too long, which could result in errors. To put them together, I let it sit for a few minutes to let it get tacky. I squeezed them firmly and let them cure for an hour.

  • You will end up with way too much gold powder if you sprinkle it on! As you add salt to a dish while cooking and the lid falls off, you now have a cup of salt in your dish that you didn’t want. There is no such thing as too much salt.

Supplies

Step 1

Add a small amount of powder to some glue on a disposable surface, I used wax paper. Blend until the powder is evenly distributed.

Step 2

Let each piece sit for a couple of minutes after you have applied the glue. It gets tacky this way, so when you push it together, it bonds faster

Step 3

Attach each piece one at a time, allowing it to dry completely before attaching the next. The glue cured in an hour.

Step 4

After all the pieces are fully attached and dried, hand wash the area to remove any stray glue or gold. So, I went ahead and planted a Hoya Hindu Rope in my teacup.

In spite of covering my hands in glue and not being able to remove it, I was so happy to be able to repair my teacup. Its appearance has been forever altered by my cats being cats, even though the teacup has already been around for 200 years. I was crushed when they broke it, but I am so glad to have discovered Kintsugi and the art of accepting flaws. Isn’t it annoying how art can teach lessons sometimes? You might be able to repurpose some of those broken, beloved items after reading this. Tell me what you do with them in the comments.

 

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