Originating in Japan, Kintsugi is an art form taking simple pottery and transforming it in to something truly special and unique.
The idea behind it is to break an ordinary piece of pottery (or use one that was accidentally broken) and glue it back together with a metallic adhesive. The noticeable cracks found within the pottery are looked upon with admiration, rather than as a flaw. They become a piece of the object’s history, which only adds to its beauty.
Ashley and I felt compelled to venture in to this project because of the beautiful message behind the art. As women, we often dwell on our flaws and pasts and wish them away. And in marriages and friendships there are always imperfections. We loved how Kintsugi acknowledges the “cracks” but is an immediate reminder that they actually make us who we are…an interesting individual who is better because of life’s hurdles.
We wanted to make one little tiny wave in this world of self-doubt and encourage others to look at themselves in a more admiring light. We are girlfriends, mothers, wives, co-workers and we are stronger, smarter and more beautiful because of our imperfections. Each flaw is a badge of honor earned in this short life we are all trying to make the best of.
To make your own piece of Kintsugi pottery, follow along with this tutorial.
What you will need:
- Pottery (either purchased, or previously broken)
- Locktite Adhesive
- Powder Pigment (we used Aztec Gold)
- Gallon size Ziploc Bag
- Popsicle sticks or disposable paint brushes (we used the small ones from the kids craft section)
- Bowl of rice
- Scotch Tape
The first step is the fun one! If you are not already using a broken piece of pottery, this is where you get to break it. Oh yeah! Time to get those frustrations out.
Place the object in a gallon sized Ziploc bag. Squeeze all of the air out and seal. By placing it in a bag, this will keep all of the pieces contained and from flying across the room once you break. It also will keep hands and fingers safe from being cut.
Tip: when breaking, it’s ideal for it to have 3-4 big pieces to repair. If you smash it to oblivion, it will be much harder to put back together. Find where you would like for a few pieces to crack (avoiding the base if at all possible) and hold firmly with one hand. Using a hammer, make one swift hit.
Tip: You can also tape around the bowl or piece of pottery to keep from having to puzzle piece them all back together. This, however, is not necessary. Just note, the tape can be hard to peel off the smaller pieces.
Remove the pieces from the bag. If you didn’t use tape, puzzle piece the pottery back together to find out where all pieces fit. Tiny pieces (less than an inch) can be thrown away. The holes that remain from not using those pieces can be filled in at the end.
Working quickly, squeeze out a small amount (about the size of a nickel) of adhesive on to a paper plate. Using a popsicle stick, get about 1/4 teaspoon of gold powder and mix thoroughly with adhesive. Once mixed, you will then begin to spread on to one of the broken pieces.
Tip: you will need to put adhesive on both broken pieces of pottery you are gluing back together, this will ensure a firm grip.
Tip: Spread on quickly with the popsicle stick or a craft paint brush an even amount to cover the broken sides. The more adhesive you paint on, the more will ooze out, so be cognizant of the amount.
Once spread, push the two broken pieces together and hold for 2-3 minutes. This will allow the adhesive to cure slightly before moving on to the next piece. After those 2-3 minutes, you can then place the pieces in a bowl of rice. This allows the pieces to continue curing and stay in place while you move on to glue the next. Just make sure the rice is not touching any tacky adhesive or it will stick!
By the time you move on to the next pieces, you may have to mix more epoxy and gold powder, as it usually becomes hard in about five minutes.
Continue glueing, holding and curing until all pieces are put back together. Once together, you might have a few small holes that remain. We have a neat trick to fill them, which also makes for a beautiful touch!
You will see from the picture (below) about 1/2 inch section that is completely filled in with gold epoxy. To recreate this effect, simply place a piece of Scotch Tape on the OUTSIDE of the bowl, completely covering the hole. Working from the INSIDE of the bowl, paint adhesive in to the hole, and build it up until it is level with the rest of the pottery sections. Let cure for at least 15 minutes before removing the tape.
Let the piece set for a full 24 hours before using or handling. This will allow all epoxy to fully cure.
Tip: there may be smudges of gold epoxy from handling the glue and holding the pieces together. We found using a Clorox wipe will help to remove the residue when it is still not completely hardened. If the epoxy has cured, simply use an Exacto knife to chip away.
There you have it! A unique decor item to add to your home that will remind you to see the beauty in yourself and your relationships. It also doesn’t hurt that these look like they came directly from the showroom of Anthropologie 🙂 So get to work repairing some sentimental pieces or find an ordinary one you want to make a conversation piece out of.
On a personal note, Ashley had a mug she purchased from Chicago, the place she and her husband got engaged. Unfortunately a mishap occurred, breaking the handle. Over the years, it sat in her cupboard broken, but too sentimental to simply throw away. Using the Kintsugi method, she repaired the broken handle. Just see how cool it looks!
Disclaimer: Obviously, these are not meant to contain food or use in the dishwasher or microwave.
They do, however, make a beautiful candy dish (wrapped candy, of course), key bowl, make up brush holder (once filled with coffee beans) or container for jewelry.