Posts Tagged ‘kintsugi’

Family platter with kintsugi gold repair

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Many years ago, Mark inherited dozens of pieces from a large earthenware dinner service made in England by Enoch Wood & Sons, c.1835-1846. The set was previously owned by his grandparents and although I assumed they liked it, everyone else in the family thought it was ugly. I am not typically a fan of multi-color transferware but I love this set, especially the Grand Tour theme, consisting of different romantic European vistas. After his grandfather passed away, it was clear that nobody wanted the dishes except for us. Before we received them, Mark’s uncle Dick extracted some of the pieces and sent one to each family member as a memento, including this small platter, which was sent to Mark’s mother Mary. Sadly, it did not make the journey from Massachusetts to Washington intact. The shattered platter sat on top of Mary’s piano for a couple of years and the next time I saw it, about a year later, a small tube of glue was sitting amongst the broken shards. After yet another year or so, I saw that an attempt had been made to repair the platter and curiously, a metal washer (!) had been inadvertently glued to the front. At this point, I had to take matters into my own hands and asked Mary if I could rescue the platter and try to repair it myself.

I had recently taken a Kintsugi class to learn the ancient Japanese method of repair using lacquer and gold, and felt this platter was a worthy candidate. I used brown urushi lacquer to join the pieces, painted over the cracks with red lacquer, and finally applied real gold dust. The bond is supposedly stronger than any known cement, epoxy or glue.

The Japanese believe in embracing imperfections and I am thrilled to have brought some dignity back to this poor platter. My next project is a HUGE meat platter from the same set which fell off the wall, shattering into dozens of pieces. I’ve got my work cut out for me so stay tuned.

Kintsugi repair, at last!

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

Ever since I started my blog, people have asked me when I was going to start showing examples of Japanese kintsugi. The definition of kintsugi has been interpreted as “golden joinery”, “golden repair” and “to repair with gold”. I have long been an admirer of the ancient art of repairing broken ceramics and glassware using urushi (lacquer) and real gold powder but wanted to learn more about it before discussing it here.

I recently completed classes given by Gen Saratani in Manhattan and learned first hand how to repair a chipped plate. We were told to bring in a ceramic object with a chip and I knew immediately which piece to bring in: a French plate made by Sarreguemines, c.1890, with a large old chip at the bottom. The transfer decoration depicts an itinerant “china mender” repairing a broken vase using staples, while a distraught client looks on. A sign above him proclaims “I mend with staple and without staple: alabaster, wood, tortoiseshell , marble, amber, ivory, crystal, glass, earthenware, porcelain!! That’s the mender and repairman.” Beside him are a few plates repaired with staples. Next to the sign is a poster with the title “THE BROKEN JUG” showing a lovely lady holding a jug. My favorite detail is a stapled plate with a heavy weight hanging from it, to show how strong his staple repairs are. I do not recommend trying this at home.

Here is my completed plate with the chip now filled with gold covered lacquer. I will discuss the step by step technique I learned in upcoming posts, as well as show rare examples I have found in museums.

Thanks to Gen Saratani for his excellent teaching skills and to archeologist Alban Ceramo Horry for translating the text on the plate.

IMG_7174

IMG_7171

IMG_7172

IMG_7066

IMG_7060

IMG_7067