Workshop: Kintsugi for Modern Life with Naomi Taplin

This four hour workshop was held in the calm beauty of Studio Enti in Darlinghurst, where ceramicist Naomi Taplin sells her porcelain tableware, lighting and home decor – functional and beautiful.

Kintsugi is a traditional Japanese art, repairing broken ceramics with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold or silver. It’s a philosophy that treats the breakage and repair as part of the history of the object, valuing these signs of use, celebrating them, finding a new level of beauty.

Angela’s Bowl
Repaired by Naomi Taplin

Pictured here is work by Naomi for the Object Therapy exhibition.

After a brief introduction to the technique and its history Naomi demonstrated her modern take, using today’s glues and metallic powders. There were lots of options to think about. My personal leaning is towards raised, scar-like veins, others were drawn to fine, smooth traceries.

We all started with small, low, white dishes that Naomi had pre-broken into 3 or 4 pieces. There’s some delicate timing involved, waiting for the precise moment when the glue’s consistency is “right”, moving quickly to apply it, then some more waiting, holding steady.

Some people had brought their own broken objects to work on. Most of us selected from a table of possibilities provided by Naomi. In a burst of bravado I chose a large, quite thick plate that had come out of the kiln in three pieces. The pieces were a bit warped, and would never fit together neatly. Naomi brainstormed with me on possible approaches that treated the gaps as an opportunity.

Two batches of glue later – both set on the work surface before I could apply glue to plate – and I was ready to admit defeat. Instead Naomi came and assisted, we each worked on one side of the first join, then brought them together. I chose to limit the amount of finishing and cleaning. The final piece has in my eyes a robust, unabashed, quirky character, and refinement would be misplaced. It’s unusual, not obvious, but satisfying. So far people look at it, have a little think, then decide they like it.

And a comparison photo to see the different sizes.

This class was a step away from my main areas of interest, but I think there are definite possibilities to integrate some of the techniques and ideas into other work I’m doing.

Naomi has more classes scheduled, and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re nearby.

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