Dec 02

Kintsugi at the Pitt Rivers Museum


I posted about kintsugi (literally ‘gold join’ or ‘golden joinery’) a couple of years back and wanted to share this lovely film made for the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford  – which, if you haven’t visited, is an absolute treasure house packed with the most extraordinary cultural artefacts. It’s well worth a special trip.

It’s wonderful to watch these beautiful repairs being worked by skilled Japanese craftsmen, seeing how they use processed tree sap and gold dust to create the join. In fact, while glitter is being applied by fractious toddlers (and likely their even more fractious parents) to a gazillion Christmas cards worldwide, it strikes me that this calm little film makes the perfect Advent antidote to the season’s relentless juggernaut. Maybe one of the Wise Men brought kintsugi know-how along along with his gold from the Orient for the Christ Child…? I know, that would be an anachronism, because kintsugi is only a few hundred years old, but it’s a very nice thought.

What if we considered giving the gift of repair this Christmas? We could offer to repair something treasured for someone, instead of buying something new…? Or give the gift of mending in another way? – a beautiful darning kit, for example. Or possibly by spending time with someone who is themselves a little broken. 

I’d love to have a go at this myself. Would epoxy glue and a little gold powder paint do the trick…? Have you attempted repairs on crockery or ceramics? If so, how did it go? 

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  1. carys davies says:

    Oh, I love kintsugi. I went to the Ashmolean, also Oxford, a while back, for a session with Japanese lacquer craftsmen. It was fascinating: they use natural resin and gold to mend ceramic (and lacquer), very complicated, slow, & expensive.

    I've done it with Araldite – see pic here
    Stick the mend first and let it cure. The use Red (fast) araldite to lay down a bead over the crack. When that's solid, gild it – I use size and gold leaf.

    I *love* the Pitt Rivers museum. Not been there sice the refurbishment though. My favourite is their collection of small, hand-made knives: all the world's together…

  2. Katy says:

    I had a fairly disastrous go with a kit .

    I think I would have preferred the original materials, somehow or at least having someone talking me through the process!

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