Kintsugi: The art of repairing ceramics with gold dust


Kintsugi is a traditional Japanese ceramic repair technique that highlights cracks by filling them with lacquer mixed with gold, silver or platinum. This art celebrates the beauty of imperfection and the history of the object, emphasizing that the cracks and repairs are part of its unique history.

Origin and history of kintsugi

Kintsugi is an ancient Japanese ceramic repair technique using gold powder. By means of lacquer and gold powder, broken pieces are joined together highlighting scars and fractures. This philosophy values imperfections, promoting resilience and aesthetic transformation of objects. In addition, kintsugi can also be applied to everyday life and has therapeutic applications. Find out more about this fascinating technique and its history.

Also known as ‘gold carpentry’, this Japanese technique is an ancient way used to repair broken pottery. Its history dates back to the 15th century, when the shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, upon receiving his favorite broken tea bowls repaired with metal staples, decided to look for a more aesthetic and valuable way to restore the pottery.

This incident triggered the search for Japanese craftsmen who developed a new technique, turning ceramic repair into a refined art. Kintsugi became a philosophy that accepted imperfections and valued scars as part of an object’s history. Instead of hiding fractures, it sought to enhance them, highlighting the fragility and transformation of the object.

Kintsugi technique in ceramics

The kintsugi technique in ceramics is a meticulous process.

Urushi lacquer, resin from the “lacquer tree” (Toxicodendron vernicifluum), sprinkled with gold, silver or platinum powder, was originally used.
With the popularization of the technique, nowadays different materials are used to bond the gold, such as lacquers and synthetic glues, epoxy glue, clear varnish, acrylic sealant, gold mica powder and fine plaster of Paris.

The process begins with the selection and cleaning of the broken pieces. Then, a very thin layer of lacquer is applied to the edges of the pieces to carefully join them together. After the lacquer dries, gold dust (silver or platinum is also used) is sprinkled over the repaired areas, creating a golden line that highlights the cracks and marks on the ceramic.

kintsugi bowl
This piece and the one on the cover are the work of Yoseiko of 4natureDesign.

The kintsugi technique requires skill and patience on the part of the craftsman. Each piece is unique and the repair process can take time, especially in cases where the fractures are complex or numerous. The goal is not only to repair the ceramic, but also to transform it into a work of art, where the scars become aesthetic elements that tell the story of the object.

Once the process is complete, the ceramic takes on a new life. The repaired cracks become an integral part of the piece, reflecting its history and the experiences it has lived through. These imperfections highlighted with gold, silver or platinum dust become distinctive and valuable features of the object, giving it a unique and authentic look.

kintsugi repair kit

Kintsugi repair kit

You can get started in this wonderful technique in a simple way by acquiring all the necessary elements at once.
You will be able to repair a piece, transforming it and thus achieving a unique and personal work, feeling the process.


  • Fragment preparation: First, the broken ceramic shards are carefully prepared, making sure that they fit precisely and proportionately. It is important to have a clear vision of the design and how the fractures will be integrated into the final piece.
  • Lacquer application: Once the fragments are ready, a layer of lacquer is applied to the parts to be joined. The lacquer, from the resin of the lacquer tree, acts as a strong and durable adhesive that will hold the parts securely together.
  • Sprinkling of gold dust: Gold dust is then sprinkled over the wet lacquer layer. This powder, which can be replaced by silver or platinum according to preference, adds an aesthetic and symbolic element to the repaired piece. The gold dust highlights the scars and fractures, making them a visible and valuable part of the object.
  • Drying and polishing: Once the gold powder has been applied, the lacquer dries completely. Subsequently, the object is carefully polished to obtain a smooth and shiny finish, further enhancing the beauty of the repaired scars.

Philosophy of kintsugi in life

The philosophy of kintsugi goes beyond a simple Japanese ceramic repair technique. It is based on the belief that breaks and repairs are part of an object’s history and should be shown rather than hidden. Instead of considering imperfections as something negative, this technique values them and makes them a valuable part of the object.

This point of view teaches us to accept our own imperfections and scars. It reminds us that the wounds and adversities we face in life are also part of our history and have made us who we are. Instead of being ashamed of our faults and failures, kitsugi invites us to embrace them and recognize their importance in our personal growth and transformation.

plate repaired with gold
Plate with gold repair by Brian Ohlsen of BrokenBowlProject

This practice encourages us to find beauty in our own cracks. As in kintsugi-repaired pottery, our scars and wounds can become our most valuable features. They remind us that we are resilient beings capable of overcoming hardship. By proudly displaying our imperfections, we can inspire others to accept and love their own life stories.

Kintsugi teaches us that transformation and beauty can emerge from difficult moments. By embracing our past experiences and allowing ourselves to heal, we can become stronger, more authentic versions of ourselves. This is a constant reminder of the importance of resilience and self-love on our path to fulfillment and happiness.

Therapeutic applications of kintsugi

Kintsugi is not only limited to the repair of ceramic objects, but also has therapeutic applications in the emotional and psychological realm. This Japanese philosophy offers a way of understanding and overcoming life’s adversities, fostering resilience and self-love in the face of emotional scars.

As in the ceramic repair process, the therapeutic inner process seeks to highlight the imperfections and painful experiences that have left an imprint on our lives. Through this approach, the importance of accepting and showing our wounds is emphasized, recognizing that they are part of our history and have shaped us into who we are today.

Therapeutic kintsugi is used as a metaphor for the importance of resilience and personal transformation. Just as ceramic pieces repaired with gold dust become more valuable, people can also find a greater sense of worth and appreciation in facing and overcoming life’s adversities.

In a therapy process, psychologists play a fundamental role as artisans, guiding and supporting individuals on their healing journey. The relationship between patient and therapist resembles the golden thread that binds pieces of pottery together, representing a bond of trust and support during the process of personal transformation.

Therapeutic applications of the deeper meaning of kintsugi focus on fostering resilience, self-knowledge and self-love. Through this approach, it seeks to enable people to accept their imperfections, learn from their painful experiences and find the value in their own story of transformation.

Kintsugi as an art and metaphor for resilience

Kintsugi goes beyond being a simple ceramic repair technique, it has become an art and a powerful metaphor for resilience. Through this method, cracks and fractures in ceramics are enhanced and become a valuable part of the piece.

Kintsugi teaches us that imperfections and wounds are part of our history and should not be hidden. Just as the pieces repaired with this technique are more valued than those that were never broken, our own scars and adverse experiences make us stronger and transform us into unique human beings.


Buy Kintsugi

There are craftsmen who repair the pieces following the ancient traditions of oriental ceramics.

You can see his work here.

This kintsugi philosophy invites us to accept our imperfections and find beauty in them. It is not about hiding our wounds, but about honoring them and showing them to the world as symbols of overcoming and growth.

The gold dust repair process in kintsugi also reinforces this idea of aesthetic transformation. Broken ceramics are joined with lacquer and decorated with gold, silver or platinum powder, creating a beautiful and unique visual effect. The gold lines that highlight the fractures not only repair the piece, but embellish it and make it even more special.

In Japanese culture, kintsugi is valued as an art that exemplifies the philosophy of wabi-sabi, which celebrates the beauty of imperfections and the ephemeral. Through kintsugi, the idea is conveyed that our wounds can be transformed into strength and that resilience is a path to inner beauty.

  • Ceramic imperfections become a valuable part of the piece.
  • Kintsugi teaches us to accept our wounds and find beauty in them.
  • Gold dust repair reinforces the idea of aesthetic transformation.
  • In Japanese culture, kintsugi is valued as an art that celebrates imperfections and ephemerality.

Kintsugi in Japanese culture

Kintsugi, an ancient technique of repairing ceramics with gold dust, has a deep connection to Japanese culture and its aesthetic values. In Japan, broken or damaged objects are considered worthy of special attention, as their imperfections tell a story and represent the beauty of the aged and the imperfect.

In Eastern culture in general, the idea of respecting and preserving what already exists, rather than constantly searching for the new and perfect, is highly valued. Kintsugi is a clear example of this philosophical principle known as “wabi-sabi”.

The best works in Japanese ceramics

Wabi-sabi is based on the acceptance of impermanence and imperfection in all things. Instead of trying to hide flaws or defects, kintsugi embraces the idea of highlighting scars and fractures, turning the repaired ceramic into a unique and valuable work of art.

This approach is reflected in the way the Japanese see beauty in everyday and ancestral objects, where the old and worn is highly appreciated. For them, this process is not only a repair technique, but also a way to honor the history and legacy of an object.

This practice is a tangible expression of the connection between nature and human beings, as pottery is a creation made from the earth itself. In Japan, kintsugi is considered to symbolize harmony with nature and respect for the materials and resources it provides.

A repair that is an aesthetic enhancement

Aesthetic transformation is one of the most fascinating aspects of kintsugi. This technique not only repairs broken ceramics, but also enhances scars and fractures, turning imperfections into a visible and valuable part of the object.

By joining ceramic pieces together using lacquer sprayed with gold, silver or platinum powder, kintsugi produces a unique visual effect that highlights lines and cracks. The fractures become golden lines that run through the object, creating a beautiful and striking pattern.

It is important to note that this transformation does not seek to hide imperfections, but quite the opposite. Kintsugi proudly displays the wounds of the object, as a reminder of its history and the experience it has been through. Instead of being considered as flaws, cracks and scars are valued as an integral part of the beauty and uniqueness of the piece.

  • The golden lines represent the history and transformation of the object.
  • Imperfections are appreciated as marks of experience and endurance.
  • The repaired ceramic takes on a new life, celebrating its past and present.
  • The aesthetic transformation becomes a symbol of acceptance and appreciation for beauty in all its forms.

Valuation of parts repaired by kintsugi

This philosophy not only involves the physical repair of broken ceramics, but also gives new meaning and value to the restored pieces. Through this technique, scars and fractures are enhanced and become an integral part of the aesthetics of the ceramic.

The presence of the gold, silver or platinum lines joining the ceramic pieces not only shows the repair process, but also reflects the history and life of the object. These golden lines are not hidden or disguised, they are proudly displayed, celebrating imperfections and lived experiences.

The value of pieces repaired with kintsugi lies in the appreciation of their uniqueness and the acceptance of their fragility. Unlike a perfect ceramic piece without any sign of deterioration, a piece repaired with kintsugi expresses the beauty of transformation and the ability to overcome adversity.

In addition, the repair process itself is considered valuable and respectable. The time and care taken to join the pieces together and cover them with gold, silver or platinum dust demonstrate painstaking work and true artisan dedication. Each gold line becomes a tangible testament to the artist’s effort and skill, highlighting the resilience of the object.

Likewise, valuing the repaired pieces also involves recognizing the importance of the history and events that led to their breakage. Each crack and fracture tells a story, and by being repaired in this spatial manner, they are given new life and new meaning. These visible marks become an essential part of the pottery’s identity, and bring a sense of authenticity and uniqueness. This is the beautiful legacy and value of the art of Kintsugi.

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