Here’s a photo of me with one of my 2015 pieces at Mitchell-Giddings Fine Arts. The gold repair is inspired by the Japanese technique of kintsugi ceramic repair. Traditional kintsugi employs lacquer and powdered precious metals (usually gold) to fill cracks. The Japanese aesthetic philosophy of wabi-sabi celebrates the imperfection or flaw as enhancing the character of an object, and the kintsugi-repaired item often attains a higher status than its “perfect” counterpart.
Clay is subjected to enormous stresses in the course of making (the clay used in these vessels shrinks by approximately 10% between throwing and coming out of a 2300ºF kiln), and those stresses are magnified in the case of large vessels. In the pieces here artist Marta Bernbaum has permanently stabilized firing and cooling fractures using modern materials: archival epoxy, ground silica and gold-impregnated paint.
These mends commemorate events in the history of the pot rather than concealing them, and they introduce exciting chance elements that enrich the complexity of the surface and form. At the level of symbol and metaphor they resonate with our own histories through their suggestiveness of injury, scarring, resilience and, ultimately, restoration to wholeness.