How can I repair a broken tea bowl?

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How can I repair a broken tea bowl? I got all the pieces, but it is broken into two larger pieces and 5 smaler ones.

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Kintsugi is the traditional method.  There are kits out there that you can purchase online.  The process is slow, but if you are careful, you should be able to follow the instructions and succeed fairly well, I believe.

However, I have also tried and been successful with heating a bowl in the bisque kiln, removing it before the kiln is hot enough to require more than just regular oven mitts to remove the pieces.  Quickly, and I mean very quickly, dip the pieces into transparent glaze and stick them together, carefully.  You need to be quick so the glaze stickling the pieces together will be still warm enough to hold the pieces together.  Then carefully re-glaze the entire bowl with transparent glaze, inside and out being careful to not hold the item by just one side or the pieces may fall apart.  When re-glazing, you need to be careful to not get glaze on the foot too much unless you use supports to hold the item off the kiln shelf so it doesn’t stick to the shelf when re-firing.  Be sure to handle the piece carefully when placing it into the kiln. Then re-fire to the cone you feel comfortable firing it to.

Because so many Japanese bowls are fired at somewhat lower cones than American wares, anything between 6 -8 would most likely be good enough to seal a break and yet not injure the ceramic under.  6 is very low and can be handled by a bisque firing or any terra cotta firing.

The transparent glaze will make a matte finish shiny, but at least it will heal a break.

This is also a workable solution to a ceramic piece (especially a mizusashi) that leaks because the ceramic is not glazed on the inside or something that cracked in firing and the crack is minute and barely noticeable.

  • Masaye
    If this method is used to repair a handle on a kashiki, after the repair, the kashiki should still not be carried by the handle.
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I have tried with two-component glue and gold powder, with good results. Don’t apply too much glue. As you press the pieces together, some glue will come out. Dust this with gold powder. You can remove any excess glue with a fine knife. Perhaps it is not the best method for very precious items, but I found it worked well enough for regular items.

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There is a traditional method using urushi and gold. I have seen it described online. Since I am very allergic to poison oak I will probably never try it. I did once glue a bowl together. I can’t recommend that.

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