Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Shortcuts to Kintsugi: Golden Mending

In Japanese pottery, there is the term, kintsugi for the repair of a vessel that has been damaged by enhancing the damage through application of powdered gold, (and sometimes silver, or platinum) and resin. Here, the original bowl is restored, but you will always see where it was ruptured; the golden lines and fills are prominent. The inspiration for the technique may have begun in the 15th century when the shogun sent a broken Chinese bowl back to China to be mended and it came back stapled together, looking ugly. Japanese artists developed a different solution. A 16th century bowl with the “golden seams” may still be seen today. 

Some people like the look so much that they will actually break pottery so they can have it mended with those seams, making it possibly more aesthetically pleasing than it was before. The ceramics are salvaged, the art added and integrated into the pieces.

I have been playing with stencils and faux gold leaf recently, and will incorporate it into my February 7th workshop at the San Francisco Center for the Book. Kintsugi occurred to me as well, and I thought about drawing or painting cups and bowls on paper and using the gold on the picture. But I didn't have an actual piece of kintsugi pottery to draw from. Washing my bone folders (from this post) also led to washing my kitchen window, and although I removed the cactii so I wouldn't get pierced in the process, I neglected to remove all the ceramics.

Down went a Japanese-style teacup. Not expensive. Mild emotional attachment. One of a pair. The pieces were big. Jackpot. I didn't do it on purpose, I swear!

I've seen websites where the real process of "golden seams" is shown, but I only needed to simulate it since I was not planning to drink from the cup again. After gluing the pieces back together with Aleene's tacky glue and letting the glue dry all the way to clear, I used a small pointed brush and applied the special adhesive (size) . I let that dry to clear, then applied the thin gold and brushed it off with a soft dry paintbrush. (You can buy the leafing sheets, liquid leaf adhesive, and the Tacky Glue at Blick,  JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts, or Michael's, among other places.)

I'm ready to draw.

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