The japanese art of perfect imperfections
Kintsugi DIY is a project I’ve been planning to do for a while. And I literally fell in love! Firstly, because I love anything unique, traditional, original and handmade. But also because the philosophy behind kintsugy is simple and simply precious. It is the japanese way of embracing imperfections and damage, of turning what is broken into a valuable piece of art. It’s a beautiful way of thinking and living, a way of mending actual things as well as the soul. Approach (or a lifestyle if you will) similar to the idea of wabi sabi, valuing everything that is aged and shows signs of it’s story. It is very refreshing in today’s mindsets driven by hurry and superficial perfection while disregarding what is imperfect and old.
The art of kintsugi
Kintsugi is a traditional craft of Asia, especially Japan and China, and means kin-tsugi – gold joinery or to join with gold. It is used for mending old pottery and ceramics with a lacquer and golden powder. This gorgeous way of bringing the pieces back together leaves the piece knitted with golden veins. Similarly to the visible mending and patching sashiko and boro techniques used for textiles. Kintsugi is a true art from the mind to the skillful hands. I couldn’t wait to try this craft for myself as I waited for the kintsugi repair kit coming all the way from Japan. It finally did and I was able to make my very first kintsugi piece! It is not perfect and I already learned a lot for my next broken piece of china. But who minds lol! Isn’t this the whole point? Imperfections are gorgeous so here is the DIY! Enjoy!
More creative DIY projects to enjoy:
- Fabric Yarn DIY
- Easy Pearl Beads Jumper
- Simple Wooven Necklace Tutorial – Make an easy loom in 10 mins!
- Felt Mouse Cat Toy – Lovely Handmade Gift
- Natural Beeswax Lemon Candle
- DIY Denim Apron
- japanese kintsugi repair kit – lacquer and gold powder
- bamboo or wooden skewers for easy application
- broken china – any vase, plate, bowl or a cup that you wish to repair
- protective tools like a pair of gloves or a face mask
- sandpaper sheet (approx. 120 – 180 grit) – optional
Begin the kintsugi DIY by choosing which piece of pottery you’d like to mend. From what I have researched, a piece of ceramics mended with the lacquer and gold doesn’t necessarily need to remain food-safe. This is definitely worth bearing in mind if you’re planning to mend a cup or a food plate. To be safe I decided to mend a vase that our cat accidentally pushed off of a windowsill. It broke into a few pieces but I found them all to complete the vase again. They also were a good size for mending.
My first step was to gently polish the sharp edges with a mid-grit sandpaper. Then I washed each piece gently in warm water to remove any debris or dirt, and let them dry on an open air. After that they were ready for the kintsugi mending.
Kintsugi DIY mending
From what I have researched there are two ways to go about the mending process. I’ve tried both on different parts of the vase and next time I’ll stick to the second technique.
First technique I tried was to apply the lacquer directly from the tube. I applied a small string of the sticky substance along one edge and then stuck it together with a matching piece which I left dry. The lacquer tends to be a bit runny so just the right amount needs to be applied. At first I applied too little and the pieces didn’t stick together. Then I applied too much and the lacquer was running down the side. After a bit of time I picked up the right amount so that there is enough to apply the gold powder on, however not enough to make the beautiful golden vein run all over or become too thick.
I had to do this technique in stages and allow small parts to dry at the time. To do this try to separate the pieces of broken pottery into two or three groups and mend them together separetely first, then all together. This is to prevent the lacquer from creating runny drops that will dry and not look very nice. After applying a bit of lacquer to stick two pieces together, take the gold powder container and sprinkle a small amount of it on top of the undried lacquer vein. You’ll immediately see the golden dust disolve beautifully within the lacquer. If you let the vein dry first and then apply the dust with a brush, it won’t stick. It needs to disolve within the runny lacquer. Continue applying the lacquer and then dusting it over gently with the golden powder untill all of the piece is mended. Then allow to dry over a couple of days and wipe with a wet cloth.
The second technique proved to be more efficient and wasted less of the golden powder. Unlike the first technique, this time you mix the lacquer with the powder immediately and use a wooden skewer to apply the substance onto the pottery pieces. You stick them together and allow to dry as you go along. I found this to be easier because sprinkling the gold dust on top of the lacquer will leave small bits of it all over. It is a waste and it gets on your hands which can make the pottery dirty.
Warning: The lacquer has a very distinct scent to it which only goes away after it’s dried. Equally, the gold powder can easily be inhaled and cause health issues. To keep yourself safe consider mending the pottery in well ventilated space or outside and wear gloves or a face mask.
Save this creative project to your ‘DIY’ or ‘Crafts’ Pinterest boards for later!
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