How to Fix Broken Ceramics

Broken and Beautiful 

There is a beauty in the cracks of an object – seeing the bumps and bruises, the scratches and dents simply adds to the character and sentimental value of a piece.

How many times have you dropped a beloved (or not so beloved) piece and there’s nothing you can do about it?! The plate cracks as you’re packing or unpacking it from the bubble-wrap, the vase which falls to the floor and is shattered, someone brings it out of the cabinet and drops it…so many scenarios! Many times we end up sweeping it and throwing the broken bits out – folded in paper and out in the garbage bag to be forgotten it goes.

Yet, sometimes just sometimes there is the chance to salvage your ceramics in quite a whimsical way really.

how to fix broken ceramics

What To Do

Fix it. I know what you’re thinking…it’s easier said than done and it will not look the same, but thankfully it’s not supposed to. Unless you take it to a conservator and they will do the job as it is supposed to be done, you have another option.

So how to make something broken beautiful?

It’s called ‘Kintsukuroi’. It is an ancient Japanese method of fixing your broken ceramics, giving them a particular edge as you line the broken bits together with a golden mixture that works like a glue. In the process of fixing the pottery with this gold or silver lacquer you also have to appreciate that the item is more beautiful for being broken.

So before you get angry with yourself (or anyone else for that matter), breathe and try to see it from a positive perspective!

ceramics how to fix

The essence of the practice is focusing one’s intention on life’s hidden beauty and power.

 

You are essentially transforming pottery into a masterpiece. The transformation lies not only in putting the pieces of the broken item together but also in healing the fixer’s emotional state.

Process

You will need

– epoxy for ceramic

– gold mica powder

– disposable plate/paper

 

  1. The Epoxy

A fine balance of ingredients is required. If we add too much gold to the mixture the joints will be too soft to fuse. Yet if we add too much epoxy the adhesive bond becomes too brittle to establish a permanent bond.

Movement is also an issue. Be wary of moving too quickly or too slowly with the epoxy, or you will leave too much or too little of the mixture on the broken edge.

 

– mix a quarter of the epoxy with a pea-size amount of the gold powder

– combine it properly (you can use the end of a matchstick)

process of fixing broken ceramics

2. Examining the Broken Pieces

the process of fixing ceramics

You need to re-experience every broken fragment to engage in the reconstruction process, so that you will be able to know their exact shape, position and feel. Every single piece must be returned to its original position.

 

– use a fresh matchstick and apply a fine line of the mixture to one of the broken edges

– align the other piece to it and press until the glue seeps between the seam, creating a fine line along the crack

– work in sections if you have a more complicated break

– the glue sets pretty quickly but keep an eye on them as the pieces set together

 

The “epoxy” in the analogy represents our attachment to positive reinforcement or to our expectation of how quickly we should be progressing. Being too attached to only fast and positive movement undermines our willingness to embrace setbacks. We have to be open to setbacks and to the possibility of “cure”.

The “gold” is an analogy for this desire to be healed.

the process of fixing ceramics
classic plates with a modern twist

Other Concepts

With this method of fixing you really have this feel of focus being shifted, from the impossible to the possible. Rumi, the great Persian poet addresses such a thought process in this way – The wound is the place where the light enters you.”

 

The process we have just described links to other Japanese concepts, these are a few –

Wabi-sabi: nothing is perfect and that is a good thing

Lki: sophistication without complication

Ma: the space defines what it surrounds and in turn is defined by it

Mono-no-aware: the passing of things

Kanketsu: simplicity through complexity

 

Taking all this is, you can appreciate the thought processes that go into repairing pottery and the art that is involved.

This a great opportunity to be able to combine the old with the more modern elements in your house too. You are literally accentuating the break rather than hiding it – thereby honouring its history.

fixing ceramic vase

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