A New Book Examines the Enduring Relevance of Kintsugi as Metaphor
Kintsugi, the time-honored Japanese practice of using powdered precious metals to repair broken ceramics, has steadily gained popularity in Western culture (aided, perhaps, by our increasing fervor for handcrafted pottery): It’s been the subject of TED Talks, exhibitions at leading institutions such as the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Paris’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and written works that use it as a symbol for embracing one’s imperfections or as a model for sustainability. But learning about the origin of the craft in Japan, which likely took place during the late 16th or early 17th century, is critical to fully understanding the art form and its impacts. Both are surveyed in the Okinawa-born author and potter Bonnie Kemske’s new book Kintsugi: The Poetic Mend (Bloomsbury). In it, she interviews kintsugi masters, details various techniques, and considers potential grounds for the custom’s development. Here, Kemske discusses kintsugi’s origins and why it resonates so strongly with people today.