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.
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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