DIY Faux Kintsugi




Kintsugi is a Japanese art in which broken ceramics and pottery are fixed with resin and powdered gold dating back to the 15th century.  It is the process of taking something that is broken and, to many, now worthless and transforming it into a work of art.  It is both beautiful and broken.  It became so popular that people were accused of purposely breaking expensive pieces in order to have the coveted repair done.

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Step 1: It's Also Quite Expensive...

You can find Kintsugi pieces in auctions.  It is very expensive, as the repairs are usually done in real gold and by craftsmen whose talents far exceed mine.  So, while we will be making our own Kintsugi pieces, we're going to be doing it on the cheap.  On Ebay, this gorgeous Kintsugi piece is going for $250.  As much as I'd love to own it, it's a bit beyond my means.

Step 2: Materials Listing

First, I wish this wasn't necessary to point out, but PLEASE don't choose an expensive piece for this project.  I suggest shopping for your piece at a thrift shop.  Pay close attention to any markings on the bottom of the piece you choose and do a modicum of research to ensure you're not smashing an irreplaceable item.

Now that we have that out of the way:

1.  Your ceramics piece.  DO NOT choose anything made of clay or glass.  You want porcelain or ceramic pieces.  Clay or glass won't break well, it will absolutely SHATTER.  Save yourself some time and money and make sure you're choosing an appropriate piece.
2.  5 Minute Epoxy (I use Gorilla brand, but there are others that will work similarly).
3.  An old pillow case.
4.  A small art paint brush.
5.  Liquid gold leaf (I used Martha Stewart's brand, which can be found at any craft store).
6.  Protective gloves (not pictured).
7.  Razor blade or box cutters (not pictured).
8.  A disposable plastic container for the glue (not pictured, but you can use the plastic from the front of the glue package).
9.  A popsicle or lollipop stick for spreading the glue (not pictured).

Step 3: Controlled Destruction

First thing first, wash the piece in soap and water and let it dry.

In order to ensure that all the pieces will be recovered, place the piece inside of an old pillow case.  Put on your protective gloves and bring the case outside.  Grab the piece through the outside of the sleeping bag and, holding one side, deliberately bring it down to the pavement, causing it to break.

Step 4: It's Like a Puzzle!

After the piece is broken, carefully arrange the pieces so that you can logically see how they will be coming together.

Step 5: Start Gluing

Place glue on the edge of the first piece and match it up to the appropriate connecting piece.  You'll need to hold it together for a good couple of minutes before you set it down to dry.  If you do not wait, the heft of the pieces will cause them to come apart.

Step 6: More Glue Work

Again because of the heft, you will need to do these in small batches, allowing them to completely dry in between.  If you just go all out and start patching everything together, it's likely to just fall apart and become extraordinarily frustrating.  I found it beneficial to combine a couple of pieces and allow those to dry and then combine a couple of other pieces and allow those to dry, gluing them all together at the end.

Glue will ooze out of the cracks during this step.  IT IS IMPORTANT TO LEAVE IT ALONE.  If you try to wipe it away, you'll only succeed in spreading glue that is difficult to remove later.  We will be getting rid of the excess glue in the next step, don't worry.

Once you have everything put together, the piece should be left to dry for three hours.  Although you are using five minute epoxy, it will take five minutes to cure and then three hours to fully dry.  Better safe than sorry, I say.

Step 7: Scraping the Glue

Now that your piece is dry, you want to use a razor blade or a box cutter to scrape away the excess glue that has oozed out of the cracks in your project.

Step 8: Nearly Finished

Now your piece is ready for finishing!

Step 9: Paint the Cracks

Make sure you shake your bottle of liquid gold leaf before using it.  I am not sure why, but, if you do not do this, the paint will come out red.  Just shake it really well.

Start painting the inside cracks and then the outside cracks.  It dries quickly.  If you mess up at all, you can clean it up before it dries with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Step 10: Finished!

When you're done painting the cracks on both sides, wait for about five minutes for the liquid gold leaf to dry and you're done!  Now you have some faux kintsugi to display in your home and you're not $250 poorer.  Enjoy!

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15 Discussions


3 years ago

Thanks for this, I'll be using these instructions to mend a lovely wall-hanging planter that I managed to smash. One suggestion though - the idea of Kintsugi is to preserve much loved items that have been accidentally broken - it seems a little against the spirit of things to intentionally break an item in order to repair it!

1 reply

Reply 6 months ago

That's exactly what I was thinking. It's about taking a mistake/accident and making it something beautiful out of something "worthless"


2 years ago

Kintsugi art gallery - some additional ideas:


4 years ago

I've been wanting to do this, and I found a material that seems perfect -- it is essentially gold epoxy. A bit expensive, but not outrageously. My first attempt came out OK -- I bet someone who was better at this could get great results. It is a little hard to work with -- it doesn't stick at first, be once it cures it seems solid. (You can buy it is bigger amounts, too.)


5 years ago on Step 10

Nice Instructable.

Just a thought: have you ever experimented and mixed the gold leaf into the epoxy, so as to turn it into a 'gold glue' and thus potentially make the trimming and painting steps into one?

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

I was wondering the same, this piece looks good from the picture, though I imagine you would be able to see evidence of strokes that may distract rather than compliment the piece. I'm looking to try my hand at a faux kintsugi as well and wondered if anyone else has put it right into the epoxy?

Hi, Perhaps you may consider using more epoxy so that when it squeezes out during the mending process, it creates a hump over the break line. When painted with gold, it will then hide the repair traces (missing fragments, repair lines cavities, etc.) and will look more organic. More about the process of Kintzugi


6 years ago on Introduction

I've always wondered about this process.

FYI, porcelain=ceramic=clay. Ceramic refers to fired clay, and porcelain is a type clay.

3 replies

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Ahhh that makes sense. When I refer to clay, I mean the pottery that is brown and feels chalky (if that makes sense). It's typically found in planters, but recently, a pretty jug I bought was made from it and painted over. I believe what I'm thinking of is terra cotta, but I could be wrong.


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Clay generally comes in three categories; earthenware (like terra cotta), stoneware, and porcelain. These categories are based on ingredients and firing temperatures, and there are many variations. I occasionally work at a facility that produces more than twenty types of clay for art use, some with only three ingredients, and some with a dozen or more. It is fairly fascinating, and here is a link:


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Thank you so much! This is awesome information. I haven't really done anything with clay since I took pottery in high school. I really appreciate this!


6 years ago on Introduction

just googled Kintsugi, i really liked them. You did really good job, i think l'll try my hand at this.

Haus Page

6 years ago on Introduction

Love this as a way to turn old family broken pieces into modern works of art. :-) Thank you so much for posting this.

Fair enough, but this was the only piece I found for sale, which is why I posted it. If you google search kintsugi, you'll find that most pieces are not as understated as the EBay screen grab I posted :)