Kintsugi

Do you remember how in an earlier post (click to open in new tab) I mentioned fascination with the Orient?

Apart from deliciously exotic food and engaging literature, sometimes what we bring back from foreign lands might be a school of thought, or a technique – or a mixture between the two, such as kintsugi is. The Japanese word, which literally means golden joint, is a traditional and quite original technique used to repair broken pottery.

Zen garden

The development of kintsugi is rooted in Wabi-Sabi philosophy, a “world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection” (click to open Wikipedia page in new tab). Instead of being a non-invasive and invisible way of repairing ceramics, kintsugi highlights the crevices with golden pigment.

Not only the result is movingly beautiful, but also the message this technique carries provides some food for thought.

No matter how hard we try, once in a while we all make mistakes: we go down a path we thought was the right one, then take a wrong turn or two and we feel completely lost. We break into pieces, tear each other apart and think we’re left with nothing but splinters, that we’re worth nothing, or our relationships are worth nothing.

Splinters

Kintsugi can make us look at the world differently: there is on point in hiding one’s wounds or in throwing away what was once beautiful. For the same reason why there is no point in hiding dust underneath a carpet. Each rift should remind us of the long way we have come from, showing us how to be stronger not in spite of, but thanks to our cracks, chips and replaced parts.

Pottery that is restored through kintsugi is so much more fascinating, because it bears the marks of its fragility and those of its endurance at the same time. Golden veins sneak across the pieces, creating patterns, landscapes, stories in their own right. By looking at the restored ceramics we instantly feel that we should be more like them: instead of hiding our weaknesses, we should paint them gold, celebrating our resilience.

kintsugi attempt

Lately, I have been attempting to restore a plate with kintsugi. This is actually training in order to be able to repair my favourite morning tea-cup, which I have inadvertently let fall on the floor. After conducting some research online, I found out that the Dutch brand Humade (click to open link in new tab) is selling a kintsugi repair kit, which is the one I’m currently experimenting with – as you can see.

Feel free to leave a comment below and come back!

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