Hi again! This is Yuki, your go-to Kintsugist 🙂
You probably know this, but I sell kintsugi newbie friendly kits, the TSUGUKIT, through my website – as well as other e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Rakuten, Yahoo!, and Etsy (๑˃̵ᴗ˂̵)و.
My goal is simple – I just want everyone – those in Japan and those outside of Japan – to relish Kintsugi to the fullest with the TSUGUKIT.
The TSUGUKIT instructions are 16 simple pages. There is a lot of content, but it is not a book. It might not answer some technical questions that you may have.
But fear not. I have been uploading kintsugi tips on YouTube to make up for that (`･ω･´)
I put out a series of videos, and through my interactions with a bunch of the viewers, it became clear to me that there were some common points that trip people up (((´・Д・`)))！
Nothing is more satisfying to me than your success, so let me share these with you and give you some tips to overcome these pitfalls.
Kintsugi Classes = No More Mistakes? Common mistakes and Tips.
If you have a teacher by your side, they will give you instructions on the spot… but how many of you have this luxury? Probably not many of you, so let me gather some things you can do to avoid some common mistakes.
The TSUGUKIT simplifies the kintsugi process into 5 easy steps.
Step 1: Preparation
Step2: Making Mugi-urushi
(Step 2A: Sticking the Broken Pieces Together)
(Step 2B: Filling in the Holes)
Step 3: Filling in the Holes along the Crack
Step 4: Putting an Underlayer of Black Urushi
Step 5: Finishing with Gold Powder
Let me lay out the tips according to these sections.
(Before Step 1) Pre-treatment 【Pitfall】Cleaning the Fragments not Well
It is crucial for you to clean the broken surface thoroughly during the initial preparation. Sounds simple enough? But, do not underestimate its importance.
Urushi does not dry well when there is salt and/or oil residue …(((´・Д・`)))
The parts that you put together fell apart? The filling came out? If anything like these occurs, it is likely the surface was not cleansed well.
It might be tedious – but clean the surface well before going to the next step so that you do not cry later.
(Step 2A) Sticking the Broken Pieces Together【Pitfall】Not Fixing the Broken Pieces Together Well with Masking Tape
（↑if the broken pieces end up crooked with this step, you will not be able to fix it (((´・Д・`)))）
I am not exaggerating when I say that this holds the key to the success of your work.
If the broken pieces are fixed well with masking tape, the pieces will break apart in the urushi box due to gravity!!! (((´・Д・`)))
If the pieces are stuck unevenly, you will not be able to fix it later because urushi is very strong.
You can try going forward with unevenness, but the following steps will become harder and the lines will end up uneven as well.
So – make sure that you attach the broken pieces evenly using masking tape, or scotch tape if you have it at home. Also, make sure your work is positioned in a way that the impact of gravity to the fixed is minimal.
(Step 2B) Filling in the Holes【Pitfall】Putting too much Kokuso at Once
The key is moderation.
The manual tells you Kokuso should be applied in thin layers of 0.5mm to 1 mm!!!
Put anything more than that, and it will take the Kokuso a loooooong time to harden.(((´・Д・`)))！！！
And when I say a loooooong time, I do not mean a difference of a day or two – but rather weeks or even months. It takes a lot of patience and care to do Traditional Kintsugi right.
(Step 4) Before Putting the Underlayer of Black Urushi【Pitfall】A Rough Surface
(↑Waterproof Sandpaper, on duty!)
After the Sabi-urushi hardens, you need to smoothen the surface with waterproof sandpaper. If the surface is not made smooth enough at this point, the surface will not be even no matter how much black urushi you apply afterwards.
That final look of your work depends on how much effort you put during this step.
If the surface is not even enough, your work will look wrinkly even after applying the gold. (((´・Д・`))) That is okay if that is what you are aiming for… but if you are shooting for a professional-looking result, make sure you smoothen the surface well with the waterproof sandpaper after applying the Sabi-urushi
If the surface is not smooth even after following this tip, reapply Sabi-urushi on top after water sanding the surface of Sabi-urushi.
However, if the surface is too rough, I recommend you go back to fill in the holes with kokuso (Step2B)
(Step 4) Putting the Underlayer of Black Urushi【Pitfall】Applying too much Black Lacquer
（↑apply – praying that it will not shrink）
If there is one constant in Kintsugi- it is to use and apply everything in moderation.
Put on too much Black Urushi, and the urushi may shrink after it dries (((´・Д・`)))
What will happen then? There will be wrinkles that look like + signs – Kintsugi specialists call this “Chijimi” (shrinkage).
If this happens, you probably applied too much black urushi. You might say that “no, I followed directions,” but Urushi does not lie.
If there is shrinkage, smoothen the surface with waterproof sandpaper until the shrinkage disappears. Restart the process of putting on black urushi.
(Step 5) Finishing with Gold【Pitfall】Applying too much Red Urushi
（↑the most important step of Kintsugi）
I’ve written loads already, but do you know what the most important point is?
Yes of course! Applying red Urushi in thin layers!! (`･ω･´)
What happens if you put on too much?
The gold powder that you applied will sink into the Urushi, and the gold will become invisible. (((´・Д・`)))
If that happens, take the gold powder out with a cotton ball, and redo this step.
Gold powder is very expensive right now, so do not try to waste it.
I started selling the TSUGUKIT from May of 2020, and the gold powder just keeps on getting more expensive.
If you need more, we do sell gold powder separately. (I do not want to raise the price, but there might come a day when I have to).
That being said, you can do Kintsugi without gold. So if you want to go on without gold, try out silver, or even finish with Bengal-red/black urushi..
Kintsugi anti Pitfall Summary
（↑a model finish）
To go over what I have written about:
Before Step 1: Preparation – Clean the Fragments Well
Step2A: Sticking the Broken Pieces together – Fix the Broken Pieces Together Well with Masking Tape
Step2B: Filling in the Holes – Apply Kokuso in Moderation
Step4: Before Putting the Underlayer of Black Urushi – Smoothen well with Waterproof Sandpaper
Step4: Putting the Underlayer of Black Urushi – Apply Black Urushi in Moderation
Step5: Finishing with Gold – Apply Red Urushi in Moderation
If you need more information, I have a Kintsugi Video on Youtube that explains everything I have written in 30 minutes.
All this being said, if you need more help, I have a number of suggestions for you.
Come to Tsugutsugu (Hiroo/Ebisu area at the center of Tokyo) and have a teacher look at your work!
Our first Kintsugi Flagship shop opened in an artsy area of Tokyo. A lot of different media have featured us since the February 2021 opening.
We are open everyday except for Mondays and Wednesday. Swing by anytime during the day (there are night classes on Tuesdays), and get some of the feedback that you want!
If you have any questions, reach us here:
Tokyo Kintsugi Workshop TSUGUTSUGU
Zip code: 150-0013
Address: 1F akikito apt. 2-21-2 Ebisu, Shibuyaku, Tokyo, Japan
Tel: +81-3-6879-0940 (Japanese only)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (English & Japanese)
Open: 10:00-18:00 (Tue: 10:00-19:30) No scheduled holidays
Kintsugi Classes you can take from home.
TSUGUTSUGU offers online classes on Mondays and Wednesdays (and any days if our teachers are available)!
If Tokyo is too far for you, talk to a professional using Zoom!
Starting June, we will hold private classes!!
Ask a Professional
If you are still not confident enough to do kintsugi, fret not. Why do you not ask a professional to fix your precious item?
You can even ask an expert at TSUGUTSUGU.
If asking a professional sounds too much for you, there are Kintsugists on the road to becoming professionals and we are offering kintsugi repair at a reasonable price.
Please Email us to the following for more information.