How to Repair Your Favorite Mug with Kintsugi

This ancient Japanese art celebrates brokenness and uses gold and silver to save your favorite dishes
November 1, 2018Words by Huckberry StaffPhotos by Miranda Smith

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
—Ernest Hemingway

Broken planter

Sure, it’s easy to just buy a new mug or pair of jeans, but here at Huckberry, we’re strong supporters of the idea that a little wear gives something character.

Enter Kintsugi, an ancient Japanese art that is equal parts craft and philosophy. Drawing upon the belief that breakage and repair are part of the history of an object—something to be embraced rather than disguised—kintsugi involves pasting pottery back together with resins made from gold and silver.

The history of Kintsugi is, much like its very principles, an imperfect one. We think it began somewhere in the late 15th century when a Japanese shogun sent a Chinese tea bowl back to China in need of repairs. The story goes that it was returned to him crudely held together with coarse metal staples. This prompted Japanese craftsman to invent repair techniques, and Kintsugi was born.

Humade Kintsugi kit
Photo: Humade

When Kintsugi did catch on as a cultural practice, it did in earnest: one story tells that in the hysteria surrounding the new art form, collectors would deliberately smash valuable pieces of pottery just so they could be repaired. We won’t go that far, but let’s just say we’ve thought about it.

Read on for step-by-step instructions for repairing your favorite chipped mugs and broken plates.

Step 1: Pour some epoxy on a clean surface and use a mixing stick to add gold powder for color.

Kintsugi step one

Step 2: Once homogenous, use a mixing stick to liberally apply to your broken edge.

Kintsugi step three

Step 3: Wait a few seconds for the epoxy to become tacky. Then, hold the broken pieces together for a minute or two.

Kintsugi step four

Step 4: Go in with gold powder on your brush to touch up gold as desired.

Finished Kintsugi

Step 5: Repeat steps one through four as needed.

Kintsugi Planter with Plant

Banner photo: Humade

>>Next: How to Sharpen a Japanese Chef’s Knife

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