Kintsugi – the Japanese art of restoring broken dishes

Kintsugi - the Japanese art of restoring broken dishes

Back in the 4th century BC. in Japan, they knew how to fix broken or cracked dishes using a special varnish made from the sap of a local tree. In the XIV-XV centuries, when the traditional Japanese tea ceremony was actively developing, the art of kintsugi became widespread in the country. Interestingly, after the repair, cracks and seams on cups and saucers even increased their value, emphasizing the history and characteristics of the item..

Kintsugi - the Japanese art of restoring broken dishes

If you first decided to try your hand at the art of kintsugi, the easiest option is to order a ready-made set for working with broken and cracked dishes on the Internet. It can cost up to $ 100, which is what you need for a beginner. The most important component of a kintsugi kit is urushi varnish. This very durable varnish is obtained from varnish wood (Toxicodendron vernicifluum), which grows in China, Japan, Korea. Natural varnish is made from the juice of this tree, now synthetic analogues have appeared, so this point should be clarified when buying a set for kintsugi.

Important! Synthetic urushi can only be used to repair decorative utensils, you cannot use it afterwards, the composition is toxic! Real urushi in a liquid, not dried state is also toxic, it can cause allergies, you should work exclusively with gloves, it is also advisable to wear a mask. The dried natural varnish creates a surface that is resistant to external influences. After repair, dishes with real or synthetic urushi varnish should not be washed in the dishwasher, microwave or oven, or cleaned with abrasive products..

Kintsugi - the Japanese art of restoring broken dishes

There are three main kintsugi techniques:

  • crack. All parts of the cup, plate or saucer are available, have been preserved, only cracks are repaired;
  • mosaic. There are missing fragments, empty spaces are also filled with varnish;
  • docking. The missing parts are replaced by others. They should be suitable in shape, but at the same time, in texture and color, they may be different..

Kintsugi - the Japanese art of restoring broken dishes

What else is required to work with the kintsugi technique:

  • a special cabinet for drying dishes being repaired – in it the applied varnish will gradually dry. However, you can do without it;
  • brushes of different sizes – from the thinnest to quite wide;
  • a small spatula or simple wooden popsicle sticks;
  • thin blade or special art knife;
  • stone or glass surface for mixing different compositions. You can use foil;
  • solvent;
  • polishing materials – sandpaper with different textures for primary and finishing;
  • colored powder to give the varnish a shade of silver, gold, brass, bronze.

Kintsugi - the Japanese art of restoring broken dishes

The process of repairing dishes is carried out in several stages:

  1. All fragments are collected, cracks are examined, the product is carefully examined under bright light, all parts are cleaned of dust. The pieces can be temporarily fastened with tape or electrical tape to accurately represent what the dishes looked like before the “accident”;
  2. The adhesive is made from urushi varnish, water and rice flour. You can use ceramic adhesive or epoxy putty. The ingredients are mixed until a uniform color and composition is obtained. This base is applied to all fastened elements, to all cracks, very carefully, slowly. If the composition managed to freeze in the process of work, make a new one!
  3. The excess composition, which has appeared in the attachment points and cracks, is removed with a thin knife;
  4. When the putty, adhesive is dry, the joints should be sanded, first with a harder and then soft sandpaper;
  5. The urushi varnish is mixed with the colored powder of your choice and applied to all seams, to all seams and to newly created parts from putty. As a result, you should get the same silver or gold stitch. Leaks and bumps, according to the Japanese, in this case are not a problem, but on the contrary – an interesting detail, so you can deliberately allow negligence and not try to make the seam perfect.

Kintsugi - the Japanese art of restoring broken dishes

There may be several layers of varnish – the work goes on until the result satisfies the master. The product is dried, then thoroughly washed by hand before use.

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