Turn cracks into character

Spring is the season of rebirth, of new beginnings and an optimism that you can feel in the air. I love to start new projects in spring.

Maybe it’s the longer days with warmer temperatures that put everyone in a better mood. Somehow it always inspires me to take on neglected items on my to-do list.

One of the projects on my list is there because I’m a self-confessed klutz and I have an awful knack for breaking things around my house. At the beginning of winter, I broke a beautiful piece of pottery that is really special to our family. It’s a piece of white Delft dish from my husband’s Oma in the Netherlands.

What makes it even more rare is the fact that it is all white. These pieces were made during the war, when the Dutch were forbidden to use the traditional blue paint, so they made them plain white. Needless to say it was not a happy day when I broke that dish. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out, even after it was in several pieces.

I heard about a Japanese process called Kintsugi, which means golden joinery. It’s the art of repairing something to make it even more beautiful than it was before, and to highlight the broken areas instead of hiding them.

After looking online I found some kits, but they seemed a bit steep at $150. So I started researching and decided to try using two-part epoxy and adding gold dust to it.decor-01

I found the epoxy at Above Ground Art at 1842 Queen St. E., and the gold pigment I found at DeSerres at 2056 Danforth Ave.decor-02

Take note: the epoxy and gold mix isn’t food safe so it’s only appropriate for decorative pieces, not serving ware.decor-03

When you’re ready to start, make sure the edges to be joined are clean and free of dust. Lay the pieces out in the right order and do a dry fit to check if you are missing any pieces, and also so you know how they join together. Squeeze out a small portion of the epoxy from the tube. It comes out of two separate tubes and you need to mix them REALLY well to activate the epoxy – the solution is inert until they are mixed together.decor-04

This stuff sets very quickly, so you will have to work fast. Mix a very small amount at a time, just enough for each piece being joined.

When I originally searched out methods, many recommended mixing the gold dust into the epoxy. I found that changed the consistency too much and made it too difficult to stick pieces together, so I used plain epoxy to adhere and added the dust later.

Paint the epoxy mix onto the broken edge of the pieces, press them together, and hold until it sets (I used five-minute epoxy so it would set quickly). Don’t worry about the excess leaking out – that’s what will give it the textured gold veining you are looking for. Just before it’s totally dry, after maybe three minutes or so, dry-brush some of the gold dust on to give the beautiful finish we’re looking for. Apply liberally – it will stick to the semi-dry epoxy and the excess will fall off.

Keep going until you have joined all the pieces together, and voila! You’ve got an item that is repaired and looks even better than before.

I love the honest beauty of highlighting these “flaws” and breaks and making them a part of the piece instead of trying to hide them. The cracks become part of the piece’s history and give it even more character.


Christine Roberts is a stylist and interior designer. An avid vintage collector, she makes furniture and home accessories from reclaimed materials and co-founded The Leslieville Flea.

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