I watched my brother struggle with drug addition for 15 years before his death this year.
Justin was a gifted athlete with a magnetic personality. A truly special human that left a trail of belly laughs and bright eyed smiles in his wake.
But after a brutal football accident in high school, Justin’s inner light began to fade. You see, sports gave Justin confidence and purpose. So, when faced with the possibility of never playing sports again, his self-worth was challenged. I imagine that he asked himself, “Who am I without sports? How can I love myself without shiny achievements? And who would love me?”
The combination of despair, injury, and treatment with painkillers created a toxic mix that led to drug abuse. Indeed, Justin fell down the rabbit hole to a strange alternate universe of never-ending ‘rock bottoms’.
Still, there was hope near the end of his life. Like kintsugi, or the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery, Justin began to put the broken pieces of himself and his life back together. Yes, his hardships left painful scars. But after embracing them with gold-dusted lacquer, they built character, resilience, and inner strength.
More importantly, his wounds taught him true compassion. During the darkest times, Justin held space for his suffering best friend and the grieving parents of his deceased friends. His memory reminds us that compassion is the noblest spiritual attainment.
In this kintsugi craft, we will repair broken pottery, as we heal any emotional scars.
What You Need
- Broken pottery (ceramic only)
- Palette knife
- Razor blade
- Black lacquer
- Red lacquer
- Different sizes and shaped paint brushes
- Gold leaf paint/powder
- Wooden sticks
- Sand paper
- Thin gloves
- Natural lacquer glue
- Agate or hematite gemstone powder
Set the mood
Set the mood by listening to our Magical Japan playlist on Spotify.
As you’re enjoying the Japanese melodies, gather your tools and broken pottery. Next, take a moment to visualize how your piece will look once it’s repaired. Can you see the broken pieces from a different perspective?
Put the pieces back together
After cleaning all the pieces of the pottery, assemble them like you’re doing a puzzle. Next, glue the pieces together, and fill in where necessary with a mixture of lacquer and powdered gemstones. Agate promotes balance, grounding and protection, while hematite alleviates stress and anxiety.
Remove any extra glue with a knife, toothpick or razor blade. Then, clean the pottery piece by using turpentine. Secure the pieces in place by using tape or rubber bands. Have patience while you let it dry for 5-7 days.
Repair and polish
After your piece is dry, clean the excess matter with a scraper and turpentine. You can use sandpaper to smooth all the edges. Next, use a small brush to apply a smooth black lacquer to the cracks. Let your piece (and yourself!) rest for 3-7 days. Polish the surface again and then apply the red lacquer to all the cracks. Let the red lacquer dry for about 30 minutes.
Apply the gold shimmer
While the lacquer is still moist and sticky, apply the gold powder to the lacquer with an angled brush. Let it set for another 2-3 days. Then, apply a fine layer of protective lacquer and gently dab in the cracks. Lastly, you can polish with a mix of oil and gemstone powder.
Admire your unique creation
Aren’t those shimmering veins of gold stunning? Admire your unique creation with all of its imperfections. Take a moment to remember the stories behind the scars, and share them with others. Through your beautiful work of art, you inspire others to pick up the pieces of their lives, put them back together, and embrace the cracks. After all…
The wound is where the light enters you.– Rumi
What does your kintsugi pottery symbolize? Share in the comments!
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- Kumai, Candice. Kintsugi Wellness: the Japanese Art of Nourishing Mind, Body, and Spirit. Harper Wave, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018.
- Santini Céline. Kintsugi: Finding Strength in Imperfection. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2019.
Photos on iStock by riya-takahashi and Happycity21