Broken pottery is much like the shattered fragments of our lives.
It’s hard to put the pieces back together because we all feel like a broken cup or plate after the impact of the disappointment, loss or betrayal we experienced.
Now, this broken object can get its beauty back if we know how to fix it properly. Most of us would repair this bowl by using glue.
However, the Japanese have long been practicing an art that, rather than being solely a technique to fix pottery, is also a whole philosophy we can learn from.
We are, of course, talking about kintsukuroi or “golden repair.” This is a wonderful strategy we can use to create a new, more beautiful, and stronger object, reflecting a psychological dimension we all know about: resilience.
The art of repairing broken pottery
A broken object tells a story. Maybe that dish fell to the ground accidentally because your mind somewhere else, far, far away from reality.
Maybe that piece from your tea set was broken when you were laughing with friends as you shared a moment of happiness.
Each crack in the porcelain refers to a moment in your life. However, throwing the pottery away is unnecessary. It would be like abandoning an injured animal, or like two romantic partners refusing resolve an argument between themselves.
All this fits into the Japanese philosophy of kintsukuroi, which is already known all over the world and pleases many people.
Let’s take a closer look at this practice.
The origin of kintsukuroi
To understand this special technique, we must travel back in time to the end of the fifteenth century, to the era of the shoguns.
Ashikaga Yoshimasa was the shogun that started this millennial tradition. After his favorite teacups broke, he decided to send them to China to have them repaired.
Soon, the cups were returned to him with very noticeable traces of metal in them that diminished the beauty of the two pieces of pottery.
The shogun was very annoyed by the result, and asked the craftsmen to remedy it.
They did by just sealing the broken pieces with a golden paste to create a different, more beautiful and more powerful object.
The shogun was, then, delighted.
How to use kintsukuroi on your broken porcelain
We’re sure that, at this point, the kintsukuroi technique has captivated you.
If you’re curious, like this technique and you want to try it with some cups or plates that may break at some point, we suggest that you do it. It’s much simpler than you may think!
What you need
- Ceramic putty
- Synthetic gold powder (you can even use gold glitter)
- The broken piece of ceramic
- A spatula and/or toothepick
How to do it
- Start by mixing the ceramic putty with the synthetic gold powder. You can do it on a cardboard sheet, or on a specific bowl or cup. The quantity you need will always depend on the parts you need to repair and put back together.
- Using a toothpick or spatula, apply this combination on the edges of the broken pieces.
- Then, join them and press down for a few moments.
- After this, you’ll see how the golden line edits the “scar“ on the pottery, that wound that now forms a much more beautiful, as well as unique, object.
- Finally, you just have to let it dry for a few hours and then it’ll be ready.
Beauty is in the story the object tells, not the object itself
The kintsukuroi technique can perfectly be applied to our own life.
Resilience is that mental tendon that acts almost like that golden putty that joins our broken pieces. It also pushes us to seal our wounds and, in turn, learn from them.
We must stop being ashamed of mistakes, failures or dreams that have faded. Instead, we must be able to see the beauty in the path we’ve taken in life that has somehow helped us to be what we are now: mature.
We are wiser creatures who have learned to “shine” from adversity.
The broken pottery that has been repaired by the kintsukuroi technique also has a wonderful ability: it’s stronger. The cups and dishes no longer break so easily.
Also, people who are know how to be resilient and who have also sealed their wounds in gold are no longer as weak as before. This is something that we all, undoubtedly, learn over time.