Friday, July 13, 2012


I have written about kintsugi, gold lacquer repairs before, but I am struck at the varying approach to repairs from East to West. In the West many broken pots are discarded and those that are saved, the repairs or restoration is done in such a way as to mask, hide or fool the eye into thinking there is no damage. This approach is diametrically opposed to the manner in which Japanese pottery repairs are made. The kintsugi technique, not only reassembles the pot, but it highlights, even celebrating the repair. The piece, now repaired, is in a way reborn into a new pot, having a new personality and certainly a new appearance. The technique not only reassembles the pieces, but at times, it is necessary to "fabricate" missing pieces to complete the puzzle.

Illustrated is a rather fine Oribe mizusashi that had a large portion of the lip damaged, completely pulverizing the pieces. The restorer was left with little but ceramic dust to work with, but a two inch long, jagged wound needed repair. Using some magic filler, the area of the damage was first sanded and cleaned and then the repair built to mimic the original area. Once completed and sanded, the surface was coated in lacquer and gold dust powder was applied. The end result is a new pot, born out of certain tragedy and saved for future generations. For future reference, it would seem next to impossible to over-pack any pottery you intend on shipping, just a thought for the day.

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