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What is Kintsugi?

Do you have a special item that’s broken, but you just cannot throw it away? Don’t worry! You can repair and transform your favourite item using Kintsugi techniques, and practice the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) at the same time.

 

What is Kintsugi

Kintsugi is a centuries-old Japanese art form of repairing broken ceramic pieces using urushi lacquer and powdered gold. It is the process of taking something that is broken and seemingly worthless, and transforming it into a work of art.

 

The concept behind kintsugi also embodies the wabi-sabi philosophy of embracing imperfection, while appreciating the history and personal memories associated with a particular item by using gold powder to decorate the lines where the broken fragments are joined.

 

Origin

Kintsugi has a long history dating back to the late 14th century. The method of repairing broken items using urushi lacquer has been practised since the Jomon period in Japan.

 

Many excavated pieces of Jomon pottery have been restored with lacquer, although the golden decoration that we know as kintsugi today was added long after in the Muromachi period, when the chanoyu tea ceremony culture flourished in Japan.

 

Kintsugi methods

There are two main methods of kintsugi, Hon-kintsugi (genuine kintsugi) and Shin-kintsugi (new kintsugi).

 

Hon-kintsugi uses traditional and natural materials (urushi lacquer and powdered gold) to mend broken items, so they can be safely reused as tableware.

 

Shin-kintsugi is less complex and uses synthetic materials, such as epoxy and brass powder, which you can easily get at a local hardware store.

 

Although both methods follow the mending principles of kintsugi, it’s worth noting that items repaired using synthetic materials in the Shin-kintsugi method cannot be reused as tableware.

 

Kintsugi workshops with Simply Native

We regularly hold kintsugi workshops using quality items crafted by Japanese artisans. Please follow Simply Native on Instagram to find out when the next workshop will be, and how you can join in!

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