When I was 13, I fell in love with a hand-made bowl in a ceramics shop in Italy. “How are you going to get it home without breaking it?” asked my dad. I wrapped it in a tight bundle of clothes in my suitcase and fretted about it all the way back to England.

My little bowl survived the airline baggage handlers, but it was no match for a clutz like me. Two weeks later, I knocked it off the kitchen counter and it took a sizeable triangular chip out of the rim. “It’s always the things you like that get broken”, my dad told me. “The bowls and cups that you don’t care about, they stay in the cupboard and don’t get smashed up.”

If only I’d known then about kintsugi, the Japanese art of restoring pottery that makes a broken object even more beautiful than it was before.

In kintsugi, which literally means “golden joinery”, lacquer resin and gold powder are used to join broken pieces of pottery back together. The results are often stunning.

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Kintsugi is a traditional Japanese technique that may date as far back as the 15th century, and it seems to be enjoying something of a resurgence. Rather than trying to disguise the broken part, the addition of gold enhances and draws attention to the piece’s history and imperfections.

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The impetus for many people in Japan to start learning kintsugi has been the desire to repair pottery damaged in earthquakes. As these Kintsugi enthusiasts quoted at Naver Matome explain:

In the big earthquake, a third of my tableware got broken, including many of my favourite pieces. At first I was sad, but then I realised – I can mend this myself!

I started taking a kintsugi class because I wanted to fix things that were broken in the earthquake. I feel such peace of mind knowing that even if the pottery gets damaged again, I can put it back together.

You don’t even have to take a course to become a kintsugi master: there are kits available online that contain everything you need to get started.

▼ Probably one of the safer things you can try at home using a kit bought on the internet.


▼ Bring your old favourites back into use with a dab of gold lacquer.

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▼ This “golden joinery” isn’t actually gold! Still looks super-cool though.

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It’s too late for my chipped Italian bowl, which was thrown out years ago. But I’m still as clumsy as ever, so I have the feeling everything in my kitchen is going to be adorned with gold within a few months…

Source: Naver Matome
Images: Naver Matome, Shiki Koubou Nushiya, Table Talk, edited by RocketNews24