Kintsugi gold stitch
Average reading time — 4 minutes
Kintsugi (in Japanese 金継ぎ — golden joinery) is the Japanese art of repairing ceramic products using varnish and gold powder. According to the legend, one Japanese shogun had a favorite bowl, which once broke. The craftsmen decided to fix it by mending the cracks using the lacquer tree sap and the noble metal powder. This is how the art of kintsugi originated.
In the photo: a clay bowl with elements of kintsugi.
A metal with varnish
The restoration process consists of several stages. If pieces come off or the object breaks, it is reassembled: its parts get glued using a resin varnish and are left to dry. If the object cracks, it is immediately smoothed out, and the fracture line becomes coated with a sticky substance. The powder from the valuable metal is either kneaded into the varnish in advance or applied to a fresh varnish until it has hardened.
When the varnish hardens completely, it is polished and, if necessary, the gilded lacquering is reapplied. Painstaking work brooks no haste, and high-quality execution can take from several weeks up to a year. But as a result you get a ceramic object in which, like in a rock, a distinct vein of the noble metal can be seen.
In the photo: a craftsman mends the seams with gold powder.
The immortalized charm of frailty
The well-known principles of Japanese beauty philosophy are embodied in kintsugi. The essence of art lies in the melancholic charm of simple, imperfect things, the wear and tear of which show the life path of the product and its owner. During the restoration process, the family tea set, painted with gold, can turn into a luxurious tableware.
The “golden” renovation emphasizes the object’s value that has been accumulated over the years, breathing new life into it. The noble metal that fills in cracks and chips — the lines that write the history of the object’s service life — underlines the importance of the repaired object for its owner.
In the photo: a teapot that is complemented by kintsugi gold elements.
Modern designers turn to kintsugiin interior design. Gold inserts have become a major trend in decoration. They are used to add an aesthetic value to the process of filling cracks and tile joints.
In the photo: a crack filled with brass-colored metal similar to the kintsugi method.
The art of kintsugi shows how gold can transform flaws into virtues. But this is hardly the only use of the yellow metal.
Learn more about the role of gold in the culture of Japan.
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