Introduction: Faux Kintsugi

From the Wikipedia entry on Kintsugi

  • Kintsugi (Japanese: golden joinery) Defined as "to repair with gold", is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

My Mom was given this lion statue as a gift from her sister to decorate her new house with. When she was bringing it in from her garage she unfortunately dropped it, shattering it into many pieces. This made her very upset, but I let her know I could do this for her, and add to the interest of the piece.

In this instructiable I will step you through the process of creating an effect similar in appearance to that of a ceramic object repaired with the kintsugi technique.

Skill level: Beginner

Time needed: 3 hours or more actual working time.

Step 1: Materials

For this technique you will need:

  • Broken ceramic item (nothing for food service)
  • Glue to glue the ceramic back together (I used Loctite brand Ultra Control Gel)
  • Polymer clay (I used Fimo by Sculpy)
  • Gold leafing
  • Long tweezers
  • Jewelers files
  • Leafing sealer
  • Rubber gloves
  • Stiff and soft, fine point brushes
  • Baby wipes
  • (Optional) Clay working tools
  • Small plastic cup

Step 2: Gluing Everything Back Together

If you take your time here it will greatly improve your finished piece.

  1. File all outside edges of your broken item so that when they are glued back together there is a small channel for the clay to sit in
  2. Test fit every piece before gluing so you make sure you don't end up not being able to fit a piece back in due to odd shapes etc.
  3. Glue your pieces back together in sections to allow full dry time of the sections
  4. Glue the sections back together
  5. This is the longest part of everything, but a very important one: Give your glue enough time to fully cure before proceeding to the next step.

Once your glue has fully cured (can take up to 24 hours depending on glue, temperature, and humidity) we can move on to the next step.

Step 3: Filling the Cracks

Before you fill the cracks you want to make sure clean the entire piece to remove skin oils that will impair the clay from sticking in the cracks.

  1. Put on your rubber gloves to keep finger prints in the clay to a minimum
  2. Break off a small piece of your clay and work it back and forth in your hands to soften it
  3. Work the clay into the cracks
  4. Using your fingers or the optional clay tools smooth the clay to the surface height of your piece.
  5. Fill any larger gaps with more clay and smooth it out the same way as you did for the cracks.

Once you have the cracks filled to your liking we can move on to the next step.

Step 4: Applying the Leafing

  1. Tear off a small piece of the leafing using your tweezers
  2. Holding the tweezers in your non-dominate hand, lay it on the clay
  3. Use stiff brush in a pouncing motion to adhere the leafing to the clay
  4. Go back over all areas until you are satisfied with the look

NOTE: If you find that the leafing isn't sticking to the clay it might be because your clay has cooled and is no longer tacky. You can fix this by either using a hair dryer set on medium or breathing out on it to warm it back to a tacky state

Once you are satisfied with how it looks we can move on to the next step.

Step 5: Baking the Clay

  1. Set your oven to the baking temperature of the clay and immediately put the piece in. We are doing this so we do not thermal shock our piece
  2. Leave your piece in the oven for around an hour unless you had large areas that you filled with clay. If you did have large areas you will need to leave the piece in longer to ensure a full bake.
  3. Once your piece has fully baked remove it from the oven and allow it to fully cool back to room temperature.
  • Thermal shock occurs when a thermal gradient causes different parts of an object to expand by different
    amounts. This differential expansion can be understood in terms of stress or of strain, equivalently. At some point, this stress can exceed the strength of the material, causing a crack to form.

Once your piece has fully cooled we can move on the the next step.

Step 6: Sealing the Leafing

  1. Pour a small amount of sealer into the small plastic cup
  2. Using your soft, fine point brush paint your leafing sealer onto the areas covered with the leafing
  3. Allow the sealer to dry
  4. Most important: Sit back and enjoy your piece that looks like it was repaired with kintsugi.
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