Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing through which you make something broken more beautiful than it was before or create something special from a previously unspectacular item. It’s kind of the ultimate nudge to not just throw away broken things.
I don’t remember when or where I saw the first kintsugised object. Definitely, a long time ago. But when I found out that there are Kintsugi workshops, I knew I wanted to learn how to do it! The technique is mainly and traditionally used for pottery but its concept or idea can be applied to many more things.
Unfortunately, I just missed the last year’s classes of a studio I found on the internet. Hoping they would soon publish new dates, I subscribed to their newsletter. And this time I got lucky.
The day before the class, I researched the location and was informed by Google maps that the 11 km trip to get there would take 51 minutes by bike. I don’t know how Google calculates the time but it always takes me longer. Not that I’m riding particularly slow but there’s countless traffic lights and so many things to distract me. A picture here. A quick look at a shrine there. A visit to some craft, second hand or 100 yen shop…
In the end I budgeted 1.5 hours allowing for many red lights, a stop to get a coffee and snacks but not too many distractions if any and set the alarm for 7 am. Since setting the alarm to wake up and measure my daily temperature during my quarantine weeks last November, this was the first time I needed an alarm. Not surprisingly, I didn’t sleep well because I was scared I would miss it. But I ended up not needing the alarm at all because I was wide awake way before 7 am…
The ride there was nice. Not too much traffic yet around that time in the morning. And I found the studio easily. Lauren, who runs the studio, had set up the studio with 6 individual tables. Before Covid, there used to be a large table for everyone to sit around. I don’t mind either way, I’m just glad that she is still running the classes.
I was the first one to arrive and chose a table in the middle. Eventually, the others arrived as well. All women, two from the Netherlands, one from the United States, one from Australia and one from Saudi Arabia. Lauren let us all choose a bag of shards and then try to assemble the pieces back together. From there she took us step by step through the process of Kintsugi. Step 1: Put the pieces together with epoxy. Step 2: Apply a resin to the scars. Step 3: Sprinkle the object with gold powder.
Step 1 took most of the time. The epoxy needs to be mixed long enough but not too long otherwise it will not hold the pieces together and you have to start over. I started over several times…. Once you get the pieces together, you need to clean the scars. This took me ages. And lastly, you need to sand the object to remove epoxy stains and the scars to smooth their surface. After that, step 2 and 3 are a breeze. Finally, you only need patience. It needs to dry for at least 24 hours before you can clean the gold dust away. And then, you can look at your piece!!
It’s far from perfect. I see much potential for improvement in every step. But still, I love it! And I know that was only my first piece and I will hopefully get better over time. I already registered for another class with Lauren and will definitely also start practising at home. You might get to see more of it on my blog :-)