My Kintsugi Fail

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Have you ever heard of Kintsugi?

It’s the traditional Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold, silver, or platinum. The Japanese use this method to not only embrace, but highlight, imperfections; which is a wonderful philosophy isn’t it?

Repair work (right) on  Mishima ware   hakeme -type tea bowl with  kintsugi  gold lacquer, 16th century ( Ethnological Museum of Berlin ) By Daderot - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45589849

Repair work (right) on Mishima ware hakeme-type tea bowl with kintsugi gold lacquer, 16th century (Ethnological Museum of Berlin) By Daderot - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45589849

I recently broke one of my favourite tea cups that my father bought me a couple of years ago and I immediately thought of using a modern take on the Kintsugi method to try and repair it.

I did some research and found that you can use a two-part epoxy and some gold mica powder to get a similar look. Others will use the two-part epoxy on its own, and then paint a thin line of gold paint over top the seam once the epoxy is dry. I thought I’d try the first method because, frankly, it seemed easier and quicker.

This was my first mistake. Cutting corners is never a good idea. You’d think I would have learned this lesson at this stage of my life…

If I ever try this again, I’ll definitely do the second method because the epoxy with mica method is a lot sloppier and ends up looking like you just gobbed on some coloured glue. Plus the only gold mica powder I could find at Michael’s was from a company called “Art Ingredients” and is more of a warm gold-rust kind of colour and doesn’t give that wow effect that real gold does. Oh well, lesson learned.

So, here’s what I did and…won’t do again. :)

Tools:

  • A broken piece of pottery

  • A well-ventilated area

  • Gloves (a couple of pairs)

  • 2 part-epoxy

  • Gold mica powder

  • Popsicle sticks (a few of them)

Not pictured (ie: stuff that I found out I needed while I was working)

  • Nail polish remover

  • Cotton swabs/buds (a lot of them)

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First thing’s first, I opened the window and put on a pair of gloves. Then I figured out what piece of the broken handle went where. If course, that smaller piece kept messing me up and I swear I had to reverse ends at least 3 times. Boo-urns.

Anyway, so I mixed the mica powder into a small blob of the epoxy. I used one a small blob at a time because epoxy dries pretty fast so you can’t really make a big batch of it and keep dipping your Popsicle stick into it.

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Next I took a little dab of the now “gold” epoxy on the end of the Popsicle stick and started attaching the broken bits of handle to the tea cup.

Here’s where I really went wrong. What I should have done first is attach all the broken bits together, let them cure, and then attach the repaired handle to the tea cup.

Patience is a virtue. Will I ever remember this lesson?

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When I attached the above piece, the rest of the handle was a bit too heavy and the newly epoxied smaller piece simply wasn’t strong enough to support the larger piece of the handle while they both cured to the tea cup.

This was the point where I ended up getting gold epoxy everywhere because I was having to apply more and more in order to make the entire handle stick to the tea cup. I had epoxy all over my gloves which I accidentally transferred to the rest of the cup. There was smudges and finger prints everywhere at this point.

So, I ended up having to put down the cup, put on another pair of gloves, and I ran to the bathroom and grabbed some nail polish remover and cotton swabs and hoped for the best. Thankfully, the nail polish remover worked in lifting off the epoxy from the areas I had accidentally touched with my gold epoxy fingers. PHEW!

Anyway, bottom line, although I was able to remove most of the excess, as it sits here to cure I’m definitely not thrilled with how it all turned out. I know that, if there ever is a next time, I’ll simply apply the clear epoxy and then find a really fantastic gold paint, a fine paint brush, and just paint the seams.

Which is closer to the traditional way of doing it anyway.

Traditions are a traditions for a reason, y’know?

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Have you tried Kintsugi? Let me know in the comments below how you made out your first time. Is there anything you’d do differently?

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