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  • Writer's pictureMarc Pulisci

The Kintsugi art culture of Japan

The following is an article “The Kintsugi art culture of Japan” by Marc Pulisci.

In the 16th century, Japan introduced a culture that has intrigued the rest of the world even today. By repairing broken ceramics or pottery using gold pigment and lacquer to make a more intricate and aesthetic iteration of its original state, Kintsugi shows you far more than what meets the eye.

Kintsugi art culture

The art’s context presents a cathartic experience for those who are into the culture. By recognizing that brokenness is not tantamount to failure, and that scars are often representations of improvement, this Japanese art has been taken as a form of self-help for many years.

Many Kintsugi workshops have also sprouted all over the world and it may be a good idea for you to try your hands on crafting a pot yourself to relieve stress. While the process may be a bit tedious, the finished product somehow gives you an uplifting satisfaction in how it represents your resolve and determination in overcoming actual life obstacles.

For starters, pieces of broken pottery are gathered, its cracks and chips traced. Older tradition entails that you to combine an herbal resin with powdered clay to fill in gaps of the broken pottery or ceramic. If you are a purist with allergies, be careful when using herbal resin as these may cause skin reactions. For some, epoxy is the way to go for a safer and faster process.

After the putty dries up in the reassembled ceramic, line up the cracks with the putty and feel free to add in other ornamental strokes as you please. You then use a flat metal file to smoothen out the exterior, and a curved file to penetrate the inside. Make sure that the dried putty levels the surface of the actual ceramic which takes up a bit of time to perfect.

Now that you have smooth surfaces, you will be asked to apply a wet sandpaper to completely eliminate any roughness on your ceramic. Leave the piece overnight to dry out and sleep it off for what is the most magical thing to happen the next day.

Most often, the gold powder is produced through a mix of brass and copper. This is then placed on a tray with resin that’s made from cashew nuts, (another safer alternative than the traditional resin). Get a fine-tipped brush, apply a bit of thinner and dip it into the gold pigment. Outline cracks and chips then fill them inside and out. Add designs to rather flat surfaces with tiny dots, semi-circles or whatever pattern you please. After you’re contended with your craft, use a larger brush and dust dry powder all throughout the ceramic. Make sure you do not touch any powdered surfaces to avoid unnecessary prints.

While most workshops do not really teach you the ancient way to practice Kintsugi as it can take months, you’d still get the hang of reflecting your true self as you paint that gold in through every crack and admire the beauty of what used to be a broken vessel. Whether or not you relate to its cathartic significance or not, Kintsugi is still a worthwhile activity to engage yourself or your children in especially when you visit Japan.

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