Right about now I’m wishing I hadn’t tossed that prized stoneware bowl that my tenants broke last summer. Had I known, I could have used it to practice the fine art of Japanese kintsugi.
Kintsugi, or kintsukuroi—literally meaning “golden repair”—is the Japanese art of mending broken vessels with gold or other metallic lacquer. Along with similar wabi-sabi traditions such as boro and shashiko, in which the broken or imperfect is not discarded, but literally celebrated via painstaking repair, kintsugi is witnessing a resurgence in popularity. Today, collectors are not only clamoring for antiques specimens, but contemporary artists are experimenting with their own interpretation of this age-old art.
Above: As seen in White Fracture Bowl No. 3, New York–based British ceramist Romy Northover opts for a more updated look, replacing traditional gold seams with black putty; £188 ($236) at The Garnered.
Above: Made from Jesmonite—a water based acrylic resin that consists of gypsum and marble particles—this Cracked Gold Tealight Holder from the London-based design studio of YenChen & YaWen features intentional cracks filled with gold-toned copper; £15 ($19).
Above: Also from YenChen & YaWen, this Tealight Holder features silver kintsugi; £35 ($44).
Above: From Hotoke Antiques, a Japanese Seto Ware Two-Toned Tokkuri Flask has been repaired with traditional gold kintsugi; $150.
Above: Our favorite potter from northwestern Canada Janaki Larsen experiments with hot pink kintsugi.
Above: Etsy is a great source for antique and original kintsugi pieces, such as this Ash-Glaze Bowl from Kintsugi Supplies; $168. Should you wish to try your own hand at kintsugi, this Japanese-based company also sells repair kits from beginner to advanced.
Looking for more wabi-sabi accents for your home? See: Design Sleuth: The Japanese Boro and Subtle Imperfections: Screen-Printed Ceramic Tiles from a Small-Batch London Company.