Every so often, I come across a piece on social media whose visuals and words are complete unto themselves: a perfectly forged post. Like this one by artist, evolutionist and performer ciriacaerre about her decision to repair an accidentally smashed vase using kintsugi, the Japanese art of repair that celebrates the scars and breaks.

As her little video shows the process, she eloquently expresses her vision of kintsugi as a metaphor for healing ourselves…

Putting broken pieces back together with gold is built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art. Every break is unique and instead of repairing an item like new, the 400-year-old technique actually highlights the “scars” as a part of the design. Using this as a metaphor for healing ourselves teaches us an important lesson:

Sometimes in the process of repairing things that have broken, we actually create something more unique, beautiful and resilient.

ciriacaerre mixing gold for kintsugi

ciriacaerre‘s words reminded me of artist Victor Solomon’s kinsgugi repair of a dilapidated basketball court in south Los Angeles which he too viewed as a metaphor for healing…

Victor Solomon Kintsugi basketball cout; photo: Shafik Kadi | @shafik

…and of Yoko Ono’s “instruction” for mending object, heart, earth…

Yoko Ono “Mend Piece” at Galerie Delong

Kintsugi is something we can all quite easily practice. As a way to dive in, I’m using a repair kit by Humade.

I have many things to repair as I mull this lovely idea…

Ismoon (talk) CC BY-SA 4.0 Tea bowl. Korea, Choson (Joseon) period (1392-1910), 16th century. Stoneware with inlaid and engobe decoration – buncheong – (type hakeme mishima ), change and repair with gold lacquer ( kintsugi ). Musée Guimet. Legacy Henri Rivière, 1952, MA 1265.

Top image: Haragayato via Wikimedia Commons, under CC4.0

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3 replies on “Kintsugi Repair as Metaphor

  1. Where can I get the gold for making the repairs? Does it always have to be gold?

  2. Here is a Japanese site that sells gold powder for Kintsugi, AND “Alternative Gold Powder for Kintsugi. If you google “gold powder for kintsugi” you’ll see quite a lot of options, including some highly rated Alternative powders on Amazon, like this one. Testing them out is likely the way to go.

  3. Thank you so much for the information! i never think of Google for some reason:)

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