Essence

Learn all about Kintsugi

Kintsugi History

What's the origin of Kintsugi?

  Kintsugi began as a technique to repair broken vessels using urushi (Japanese lacquer).
 Traces of restoration can be found on earthenware dating back to over 10,000 years ago.
  The practice of "repairing broken vessels with lacquer and then decorating the damaged parts with gold" is said to have originated in the tea culture of the Muromachi period(1333-1573 CE). This is Kintsugi as you know it today.
  In the Muromachi period, tea ceremonies were not allowed to be held freely, and only those who were authorized by the shogun (general) were allowed to hold tea ceremonies. Tea parties were considered to be a symbol of the shogun's power, and the tea utensils given as rewards by the shogun were so expensive that they could buy a castle. As a result, the damage to these tea utensils was considered to be a serious problem at that time, and as a solution, the technique of repairing them by Kintsugi seems to have developed.
  In China, broken vessels were joined with pins, while in Japan, the development of lacquer techniques led to the development of a unique method of repairing broken vessels using lacquer and gold.
  These days, "Kintsugi" has become a global term. We believe that the spirituality and artistry of "Wabi-sabi", which expresses the scratches on vessels as aesthetics without hiding them, has gained sympathy across cultures.
  Kintsugi was mentioned in the closing ceremony of the 2021 Paralympic Games, and it is spreading around the world as a symbol of reconnecting the world that has been divided.
  The idea of embracing imperfections and celebrating it instead of hiding it is exactly what we need to do for a sustainable future.

The Versatile Power of Urushi

  The conventional Kintsugi, which has been handed down in Japan since ancient times, refers to repairing broken vessels using urushi, a gift of nature, and decorating the surface coating with "gold powder" (or other metal powder).
  Urushi (Japanese lacquer) is an excellent natural paint and adhesive made from the sap of lacquer tree, and has been used since ancient times for its strong adhesive power and its glossy appearance.
  In Kintsugi, the various potentials of urushi are maximized and used as "glue/putty/paste/paint" to repair the broken vessels such as joining broken pieces, filling in chip parts, etc. by mixing other materials.
  However, nowadays, all items that are finished using chemical adhesives or synthetic paints with gold pigments, etc. have been also called as the same "Kintsugi".
  We'd like to spread safe and sustainable "Japanese art of Kintsugi" from Japan, the birthplace of Kintsugi, to people all over the world by using authentic and conventional techniques using urushi, a chemically safe, nature-friendly, and sustainable material.

01

Mugi-urushi

This is like a "lacquer adhesive" made by mixing raw lacquer with a water and wheat flour.
It glues pretty strongly!
<Purpose>
Join broken pieces together
Apply Japanese paper or linen

02

Kokuso-urushi

This is like a "lacquer putty" made by kneading Zelkova powder into "Mugi-urushi", mixing raw lacquer with a water and wheat flour.
<Purpose>
Fill large chips
Fill in deep gaps

03

Sabi-urushi

This is like a "lacquer paste" made by mixing raw lacquer with a water and grind stone powder.
<Purpose>
Fill small chips
Filling small gaps
Fill in small bumps

Materials & Tools for Kintsugi

The Finer elements to create beautiful Kintsugi pieces

Metal Powders

Usually, the only gold powder is used in Kintsugi as a finishing touch after repairing the damaged part with urushi.The Kintsugi Labo JAPAN uses pure gold (24K) gold powder as a basic material, but sometimes silver or platinum powder is used to make the joined part stand out dynamically or to match the atmosphere of the original vessel.

Colorful Urushi

By adding organic pigments to urushi, a variety of colors can be expressed. Some of the works in The Kintsugi Labo JAPAN are finished without using metal powder as "Iro-tsugi" of urushi. These are all traditional natural materials and can be used safely as tableware.

Fine brushes and Wooden spatula

In Japan, the more even the repair area and the finer the lines drawn with urushi, the more beautiful the Kintsugi. For this purpose, a wooden spatula with a fine brush is necessary. Mr. Suginaka makes his own wooden spatulas for applying urushi according to the shape of the damaged part of the vessel. The fine brush is needed to coat the repaired part with urushi repeatedly. The finish depends on how evenly and finely the lines are drawn, so it is necessary to carefully apply urushi while adjusting the amount of urushi depending on the climate of that day at each step.

How to Kintsugi

This video will show you how to repair the broken vessel by the authentic and conventional Kintsugi technique using only natural materials.

What makes us unique?

Introducing our 3 unique points 

Beautiful Maki-e

  One of the features of The Kintsugi Labo JAPAN's piece is "Maki-e,"* in which various patterns, such as plants, are painted with a fine brush, in addition to the usual Kintsugi technique.
 Maki-e is a very difficult technique that takes time to master.
  Since Mr. Suginaka has a deep knowledge of urushi as a traditional lacquer artisan, he can create sophisticated pieces of art combining Kintsugi and Maki-e.
  By combining Kintsugi with Maki-e patterns inspired by the original vessel, we can create vessels that are unique to The Kintsugi Labo JAPAN.

*What's Maki-e? 
  Maki-e refers to lacquer ware decoration technique in which design is drawn in lacquer, over which gold, silver or other metal powder is sprinkled while the lacquer is wet.

Kintsugi Challenge for non-ceramic items

  In addition to broken ceramics, The Kintsugi Labo JAPAN provides some original collection including products that extend the concept of Kintsugi to different materials by upcycling undamaged vessels that should have been discarded due to the closure of restaurants, etc. using the Maki-e technique.
  In addition, although there is an image that Kintsugi is only for potteries or ceramics, stone dishes and wooden materials that would otherwise be discarded are also subject to Kintsugi in this collection.
  We want to show the potential of Kintsugi to people around the world. In order to do so, we'd like to create surprises and possibilities by combining traditional techniques with new materials that have never been used for Kintsugi before.

Our Wonderful Collaborators

 In order to realize a sustainable world with this aesthetic, we procure the broken vessels that form the basis of our Kintsugi pieces from collaborators such as potters and ceramics stores in Japan who agree with our philosophy.
  We collect and apply Kintsugi to vessels that are unsalable due to defects or malfunctions during the production process, as well as valuable vessels that have been broken by earthquakes.

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