The Kintsugi Technique – Repairing Ceramics with Miyuzo Yamashita in London…

August 27, 2018

Repairing ceramics with Miyuzo Yamashita using the Japanese Technique of Kintsugi.

Twenty two years ago, as my family moved house, my great grandmothers’ antique cup was broken.  The movers had unpacked the crockery on a table and the handle accidentally hooked to a passerby.  Devastated, my Mum talked about the cup for years, as the matching saucer and cake plate lingered on the mantle piece.  My poor Dad, regularly reminded of his mistake of insuring it for a mere $20.  No where near its value.  Sadface.  My sister and I started a search that would last twenty years to find a replacement cup.

This all happened pre google and knowing about Kintsugi, the Japanese technique that repairs ceramics.  Started in the late 15th century after the shogun, Yoshimast,a had his broken teacup returned from China with unsightly metal staples.  In that time the process of ceramics was hard to practice, as timing temperatures could not be controlled in kilns.  Any pieces that successfully made it through the process were treasured and handed down through families.  Heirlooms, or gifts bestowed on senior government officials, the rarity resulted in their value being as much as a house.  Broken ceramics were repaired with a sense that the damage became part of the pieces history.  This new technique gave a beautiful gold finish.

Miyuzo is a Japanese born, London based ceramicist practising in Hackney.  Her top floor pottery studio is shared with another maker and has mesmerising views over London.  Sat around a large sharing table, myself and 9 other learners sipped Japanese tea and showed each other our broken pottery.  Some had pieces damaged and repaired with glue, others had made ceramics specifically for the class and a handful broke pieces in front of us all!  Kintsugi is all about prep and Miyuzo is keen to teach the traditional technique, sourcing her lacquers and powders directly from Japan.  The process requires patience and time which means the course is split over two sessions, two weeks apart.  In the first we learnt to adhere the pieces together, filling in cracks, and the second painted the cracks with gold.

To book a lesson with Miyuzo I recommend following her on instagram, where she first alerts you to new classes.  You can review costs and previous classes here.  If you aren’t able to wait an at home kit just came on the market and whilst not traditional gives good results.  Enjoy! PF xo

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