Kintsugi at OoU
Iku Nishikawa demonstrates the art of Kintsugi

Iku Nishikawa at OoU

On 10 October we were very pleased to welcome Iku Nishikawa to our Oxford store for a half—day demonstration of Kintsugi - the centuries-old Japanese technique for repairing broken ceramics. Kintsugi (which tanslates as 'gold-mend') is the Japanese art of ceramic repair, where-in broken fragments are first cemented back together using an urushi tonoko or rice flour glue (or more commonly these days, using epoxy glue), before being sealed and finished with further coats of urushi and dusted with powdered gold. Urushi is an exceptionally durable lacquer produced from the sap of Toxicodendron vernicifluum with the unusual property of being highly allergenic whilst wet but once cured both waterproof and inert.

Broken ceramics being glued together Broken ceramics being glued together

Broken ceramic pieces are first carefully glued back together

The beauty of kintsugi lies both in the unique and arbitrary patterning of fracture lines born of an accidental shattering, as well as its function as an index of a slow and painstakingly undertaken repair, an endorsement of value – sentimental and material – a greater remaking of that which was lost.

Urushi lacquer is applied

Iku-san delicately applies a layer of urushi laquer with a fine paint-brush

Iku Nishikawa at OoU Iku Nishikawa at OoU

A fine powder is then dusted onto the urushi laqcuer after a brief period of curing. Powder can be silver, gold or bronze, depending on your budget!

Iku Nishikawa at OoU Iku Nishikawa at OoU

A completed kintsugi repair, using silver powder to finish the bond.

Iku Nishikawa at OoU

A Leach Pottery general purpose bowl with extensive kintsugi repairs, finished with gold powder.

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