Frequently asked questions about Kintsugi

In this FAQ page, I will answer some of the most common questions about kintsugi as well as our traditional kintsugi products. We will also provide you with tips on how to care for kintsugi-repaired pottery.

About our products

Yes, traditional kintsugi is considered food-safe as it utilizes urushi, a naturally occurring lacquer resin that is derived from the sap of the urushi tree. Urushi has been used for centuries in Japan to coat and repair pottery, and it is considered to be non-toxic and safe for food contact when properly applied and cured.

While traditional kintsugi pottery can still be hand-washed with mild soap and a soft sponge, it is generally advised to avoid using the dishwasher to preserve the integrity of the urushi coating. This is particularly important for pieces that are frequently used or that hold significant value.

Traditional kintsugi is not meant for use in high-heat applications like microwaves or ovens. The intense heat from these appliances can damage the urushi finish and cause it to release harmful fumes.

Yes, traditional kintsugi is considered water-safe. The main adhesive used in traditional kintsugi is urushi lacquer, which is a naturally occurring resin derived from the sap of the urushi tree. Urushi is a non-toxic and non-allergenic material that is safe for use with food and water. When properly applied and cured, urushi forms a strong, durable seal that can protect pottery from damage.

About kintsugi

Kintsugi (金継ぎ), also known as kintsukuroi, is a Japanese art form that transforms broken pottery into exquisite works of art. By mending the cracks with lacquer mixes covered with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, kintsugi emphasizes the cracks rather than concealing them, creating a unique aesthetic that celebrates the object’s history and resilience. This philosophy extends beyond pottery, embodying the Japanese belief that embracing imperfections and vulnerabilities can lead to greater beauty and strength.

The exact origin of kintsugi is unknown, but it is believed to have developed in Japan during the Muromachi period (1336-1573). One theory suggests that kintsugi emerged when Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the eighth shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate, sent a broken Chinese tea bowl to China for repairs in the late 15th century. Displeased with the result, which concealed the cracks, Yoshimasa commissioned Japanese artisans to develop a new method for repairing pottery that would emphasize the cracks rather than hiding them. This led to the development of kintsugi.

The philosophy behind kintsugi is deeply rooted in the Japanese aesthetic principle of wabi-sabi, which emphasizes the beauty of imperfection, transience, and incompleteness. Wabi-sabi encourages us to appreciate the imperfections and impermanence of life, rather than striving for perfection. It teaches us that brokenness is not something to be ashamed of, but rather a sign of authenticity and resilience.

Kintsugi embodies this philosophy by transforming broken pottery into exquisite works of art. Instead of concealing the cracks and imperfections, kintsugi highlights them by mending them with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. This creates a unique aesthetic that celebrates the history and resilience of the pottery.

The process of kintsugi is a delicate and time-consuming art, and it requires a great deal of skill and patience.

  1. The first step is to clean and prepare the broken pottery.
  2. Once the pottery is clean, the cracks are filled with several layers of lacquer mixes.
  3. The lacquer is then allowed to dry and cure.
  4. The laquer is then covered with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.
  5. The pottery is polished to a high gloss.

No, kintsugi can be made with a variety of materials, including gold, silver, platinum, copper, and brass.

The use of gold, silver, and platinum in kintsugi is not just about aesthetics. These metals also have symbolic meaning. Gold is associated with wealth, beauty, and immortality. Silver is associated with purity, innocence, and wisdom. Platinum is associated with strength, power, and longevity.

The traditional material used in kintsugi is urushi lacquer, which is mixed with powdered metal to create the decorative lines. Urushi lacquer is a natural resin that is derived from the sap of the urushi tree. It is a durable and flexible material that is resistant to water and corrosion.

In modern kintsugi, other materials are sometimes used instead of urushi lacquer. These materials can include epoxy resin, acrylic resin, and even thermoplastics.These products can emit toxic fumes.