We've all been there. You're admiring your favourite ceramic vase. Suddenly it slips out of your grasp, heading to the floor. You wince as you attempt to catch it.
Too late, it's smashed into pieces all over your floor, that wonderful keepsake that you just can't live without.
Thankfully, there is a way to repair your favourite item and you don't need to make a perfect job of it.
It's called Kintsugi and it is Japanese for “joining with gold”. It’s a traditional practice (Kintsugi is about 500 years old) that is all about embracing flaws and accepting that mistakes (like dropping your favourite vase) happen.
Kintsugi, What you Need to Repair
Simple is Key in Kintsugi
Not all kintsugi is the same. If you’re repairing a mug or plate, you need to use food-safe materials. So double-check the glue that you use and the gold powder especially. Otherwise you could be turning your favourite mug into a poison chalice!
Now, you can get starter kintsugi kits on places like eBay. It’s worth researching the prices and deciding if you can gather all the bits you need for cheaper.
Epoxy glue or something else that sticks the material you are working on together. (check if you need food safe)
Gold mica powder (check if food safe)
Tools: Paint brushes + lollypop stick and/or something to apply the epoxy to your vase.
How to Kintsugi in Four Steps
1. First you need to size up the task. Kintsugi works best when you have fewer, larger fragmented pieces. Otherwise the structure may not hold together.
2. Second, get your materials ready. You need to bear in mind that epoxy sets quickly, so you’ll have to quickly mix in the epoxy powder and then be ready to apply immediately.
So, before you start, it is worth planning out what pieces fit together. You could do this with masking tape.
Another tip is to create small batches of kintsugi resin at a time. Then you can piece together your broken vase bit by bit.
Check the instructions of what you use to bond your broken pieces together. It will say how long you need to manually hold them together, usually about 30 seconds. There will also be a curing time, likely around 24 hours for when the pieces are held fast.
How much epoxy you apply is also important. You need enough to pull your vase back together, but not too much that is spills and looks unsightly.
3. Apply resin to the broken edges and fit them together. Hold the pieces together so they can bond, avoiding touching the resin.
4. Leave to dry. Ideally set them somewhere where air can get round the whole vase/bowl for faster drying.
While the Resin Is Drying, Here’s What Kintsugi Teaches Us About LifeIt’s okay to be imperfect. That’s the main message of kintsugi, which stems from the idea of wabi sabi. Wabi sabi sees the perfection in all things perfect. Beauty is fleeting. One minute you have a lovely vase, the next it’s smashed on the floor. But you can reunite the pieces with kintsugi and enjoy it again.
For us, Kintsugi is a great way to rescue items that you might have otherwise given up on and thrown in the bin.
The temptation is that when something is broken, it is broken forever. That isn’t the case. Part of the issue is that we might feel like we need to perfectly restore a broken item to its former glory. Sometimes this might be possible, depending on how an item is broken. With Kintsugi you can skip worrying about doing a perfect repair job and instead embrace the process along the way.
It is important to repair things when we can, especially with the huge amount of waste that is going to landfill on a daily basis.
Read More: Here's How Much Waste the UK Makes
We also like the mindfulness of an activity like kintsugi. You can really focus in on what you’re doing and forget about the outside noise. It’s an activity where you don’t have to think too much about the technicalities of it all. Instead, you can stay in a flow-like state, patching pieces together.
At the same time, your small act of Kintsugi takes part in the circular economy which encourages people to keep items in circulation, minimising waste and the need for virgin materials to create even more stuff.
Read More: How to Take Part in the Circular Economy