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Kintsugi - repairing ceramics with gold

“When we selected vendors for our plates and bowls, we were intentional. We wanted to work with ceramists that embrace Japanese food culture. We chose Akiko Graham (Akiko’s Pottery) and Kazu Oba (O’baware) to create custom plates, bowls, and serving dishes. These are pieces of art, they are not replaceable. So I decided to honor that by learning to repair them using kintsugi.”  - Chef Chris Massad

Kintsugi (“to patch with gold” or “golden joinery”) is a Japanese art and method of repairing pottery. Broken or chipped pieces are glued back together with lacquer that is then mixed or dusted with platinum, silver, or gold. Kintsugi “celebrates each artifact's unique history by emphasizing its fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them.” (My Modern Met) Rather than simply repairing cracks, kintsugi demonstrates that damage and history can be desirable. “...The intention is not to render the damage wholly invisible, but rather use the injury as the central element for the metamorphosis of the damaged ceramic into an object imbued with new characteristics...the repaired artifact acquires far higher value and enjoys greater appreciation than it had in its previously undamaged state.” (Flickwerk)

The repair method of kintsugi arose several centuries ago. First, tonoko (clay/stone) flour or rice flour is mixed with water to create a glue. Then, pure lacquer (kishōmi urushi) is mixed with an equal amount of glue. This mixture is applied to both edges of the broken item and then melded together. The adhesive lacquer is left to dry - about a week for kishōmi urushi), and 2 days for synthetic or cashew lacquers. After drying, the piece is cleansed by removing excess lacquer from around the seams. Next, more lacquer is applied over the repaired line, the piece is left to dry for 1-2 days, and the repaired line is sanded down. Then, it’s finally time to sprinkle (makibanachi) the repairer’s choice of metal powder onto a new application of colored lacquer. This layer dries for 1-3 days before the excess metal dust is removed. The final steps of kintsugi can vary. If a coarse metal powder has been used, another coat of lacquer is applied, dabbed away, and dried. The mended ceramic is then polished, traditionally with silk batting. (Flickwerk,

Repairing dishes using kintsugi is no simple task. This centuries-old process can mean months of work for a single piece, and many years to achieve mastery. Chef Massad says, “I care about the food, and I care about the ways our food is presented. Learning kintsugi has been a challenging but rewarding experience, the more I practice the more fun it becomes.”

To learn more about the ceramics we use, visit:

Akiko's Pottery: or @akikospottery on Instagram

O'baware: or @oba_ware on Instagram


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