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Kintsugi, ancient art of repairing the broken

This Japanese traditional craft is the art of repairing broken pieces with gold, and showing the beauty in imperfection.

Finding special meaning through art

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with gold. Gen Saratani is a 3rd generation urushi, or Japanese lacquer, artist. He learned the traditional technique over 25 years ago in Japan. Now an artist in New York, he uses his lacquer training for kintsugi. The Japanese craft goes back to the late 16th century. Kintsugi is an example of the broader ancient Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an appreciation of the beauty in the imperfect and transient nature of life. It’s rooted in the beliefs of Zen Buddhism and rejects the relentless pursuit of perfection.

The main process of kintsugi can be divided in four

“People ask me what kintsugi means often as well. Originally, it just meant repairing porcelain. But since it applies urushi technique, which is pretty special, it comes out with unique patterns of gold or silver. It can be more beautiful than before it was broken, or it can give new meanings to the piece. “First, a paste is made using lacquer and flour. It’s carefully applied to the broken pieces. After a few weeks of drying, any cracks are filled with a paste. The piece is dried again and polished. Then another layer of red lacquer is applied. The final step is dust with gold or silver. The drying time between steps takes weeks. But once it's dry, the lacquer is extremely durable and resistant to moisture. First, mix urushi and flour or glue, and stick the broken pieces. Then, after drying it, mix lacquer and polishing powder and make it into a paste to fill the cracks. Dry it again and polish the piece. Now, mix the lacquer and pigments and cover the cracks again. Once that’s done, polish it again. Finally, apply the lacquer again and put gold or silver foil on top. Roughly, that’s how it’s done”, artist Gen Saratani tells Brut.

People usually only bring something very important and irreplaceable to them

With kintsugi, gold accentuates the cracks and doesn’t try to hide the damage. Kintsugi is a delicate, time-intensive process that requires patience and precision. Kintsugi is a delicate, time-intensive process that requires patience and precision. Urushi lacquer is made from the sap of a tree that’s related to poison oak, which can severely irritate the skin. Craftsmen like Saratani spend years being exposed to the lacquer to build up an immunity. Saratani's repairs can take several months to finish. He's one of the few traditionally trained urushi artists in the U.S. given that it takes over a decade to become a master of lacquer.

Brut.

02/13/2020 11:19 AM
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40 comments

  • StarLord H.
    04/15/2020 18:45

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  • Dylan G.
    04/14/2020 07:50

    🤓

  • Camille J.
    04/13/2020 21:08

    tient tient

  • Maddie H.
    04/13/2020 20:25

    this is what that song reminds me of

  • Icelean O.
    04/13/2020 20:15

    The mug broke and I want to do this to it

  • Andrei B.
    04/13/2020 17:47

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  • Alissa Z.
    04/13/2020 17:46

    It is funny how Japanese view things that are broken vs Chinese people views things. In Chinese believes when things are broken like plates and glass , bowls are not good to keep. While Japanese culture put a beautiful touch and makes it an art piece. You see why I like how Japanese does thing better than the Chinese !? Everything the Japanese touch ..? It turns beautiful from food wraps to cooking vegetables to gardening them.... Chinese shall learn some good things from Japanese .... We shall all learn only good things from each other period!!! Keep your bad things to yourself!! Amen !!

  • Muhammad A.
    04/13/2020 17:19

    🙉🙉

  • Nadia J.
    03/15/2020 19:13

    This quote reminded me of kintsugi: https://m.facebook.com/emilyjoyrosen/photos/a.217918601714615/623125191193952/?type=3

  • Joyce N.
    03/02/2020 21:14

    this resembles wabi sabi a lot 🤩

  • Joe C.
    02/27/2020 04:34

    🐶 https://youtu.be/SXDcpkbkItw

  • Andrej S.
    02/17/2020 07:08

    :)

  • Chris W.
    02/17/2020 06:15

    👍

  • María O.
    02/17/2020 04:15

    No tengo a Polo

  • Ola A.
    02/17/2020 00:40

    Be proud of your scars ⚡⚡

  • Cindy G.
    02/16/2020 23:02

    Such a beautiful idea to fix. and not throw away.

  • Tiina P.
    02/16/2020 18:42

    Upeita❣️ Olen aina tykännyt japanilaisista lakkatöistä💚

  • Kara D.
    02/16/2020 17:41

    ! 🤍

  • Kai Z.
    02/16/2020 16:59

    :-P

  • Pamela K.
    02/16/2020 15:45

    Leonard Cohen’s cracks Hemingway’s broken places in visual form! Love!! ❤️❤️