Exquisite potteries are treated as valuable treasures not because of their hefty price but mostly because of their rarity. So when you accidentally break them, it’s like your whole world also shatters. But what if you can find a way to bring your collector’s items back to life? Hanging by a Thread, an art gallery showcasing the works of embroidery artist Charlotte Bailey, features a way of putting broken porcelain back together. How is she able to do it? She reconstructs broken pottery by sewing the pieces together using metallic threads. This metallic thread is a mixture of lacquer and powdered metal (gold, silver or platinum). The technique of utilizing metallic lacquer to repair breakage is called kintsugi. And this practice has been a long-established tradition in Japan.
This Japanese technique inspired Bailey to apply her embroidery skills into pottery restoration. She found a way to stitch the fragments together with the use of gold thread. By covering each fragment with cloth, this allows her to stitch the gold thread and put the pieces back together. Just like in kintsugi, the result of the repair is not to conceal the damage but to highlight the embroidery. The gold thread will hold the vase’s original shape but the embroidery will give it a new shimmering appearance.
Hopefully, Bailey’s application of kintsugi can also inspire people in the pottery repair industry to adapt this technique. When that happens, we will waste no time in crying over our broken vases. Kintsugi embroidery will make them as good as new, with a new glimmering touch.