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Kintsugi: The Centuries-Old Art of Repairing Broken Pottery with Gold

Kintsugi Today

Many artists and craftspeople today—both in Japan and abroad—continue to keep this ancient tradition alive. Tomomi Kamoshita and Yee Sookyung incorporate the practice into their ceramic art, while Elisa Sheehan, Rachel Sussman, and Tatiane Freitas have put their own creative twists on the traditional practice by replacing the pottery with unconventional and unexpected canvases.


Tomomi Kamoshita


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Japanese artist Tomomi Kamoshita breathes new life into found ceramics. Using the Kintsugi technique, she crafts shimmering creations that range from patchwork chopstick rests to mismatched earrings. Much like the Kintsugi artists that have come before her, Kamoshita has a philosophical approach to her art. “As every Japanese [person] has realized,” she says, “the waves can take away a great deal from us, but it is also true that we greatly benefit from it.”

Yee Sookyung


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Yee Sookyung uses the Kintsugi crack technique to create surreal sculptures made from multiple wares. Using 24-karat gold, the Korean creative transforms ordinary pottery into Translated Vases that double as extraordinary allegories. “This work can be a metaphor of a struggle in life that makes people become more mature and beautiful as they overcome suffering,” she reveals.


Elisa Sheehan


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Kintsugi Eggshells, an ongoing collection of exquisite installations by New Yorker Elisa Sheehan, sees ephemeral, organic objects transformed into eye-catching works of art. Described as “a visual representation of imperfection as a true value and where flaws are celebrated and viewed as beautiful,” this series features shells coated in delicate washes of paint, abstract ink forms, and gold leaf accents.


Rachel Sussman


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Brooklyn-based artist Rachel Sussman has taken Kintsugi to the streets. Using a method inspired by the age-old practice, she mends the many cracks that naturally occur in urban environments. Called Sidewalk Kintsukuroi, this longterm project is intended to invite us to “see what’s around us with fresh eyes and to celebrate perseverance.”


Tatiane Freitas


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Brazilian artist Tatiane Freitas blurs the line between classic and contemporary design with her modern spin on mending. Using acrylic resin, Freitas “fixes” broken wooden furniture. Though the resin is clear, the repairs are not intended to be camouflaged; instead, the alterations boldly stand out from the wood, culminating in old-meets-new statement pieces.

If you're interested in channeling your inner artist and exploring the craft yourself, Humade and Mejiro Japan sell Kintsugi repair kits, and A Cozy Kitchen also offers a DIY tutorial for those who have the supplies on-hand. These do-it-yourself projects allow you to experience the art of repairing pottery in the Japanese tradition while simultaneously transforming your broken ware into a piece of art.


This article has been edited and updated.

Related Articles:

Craftsman Voluntarily Repairs Any Family Heirloom Ceramics Damaged By Earthquakes in Japan

Broken Vases Are Restored by Sewing Them Back Together with Gold Thread

Origami: How the Ancient Art of Paper Folding Evolved Over Time and Continues to Inspire

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Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.
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