Pacific Northwest Upcycling and Ancient Japanese Kintsukuroi

kintsukuroi – (n.) (v.phr.) “to repair with gold”; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken

Kintsukuroi Art

Kintskuroi is thought to have begun in the late 15th century when the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa broke his favorite Chinese tea bowl and returned it to China to be repaired. When the bowl came back, it was held together with staples, which detracted from the beauty of the bowl. This motivated Japanese craftsmen to create a new form of repair that could make a broken piece look as good as new, if not better. The aesthetic became so popular with collectors that some were accused of deliberately breaking valuable ceramics, just to have them mended in gold.

Just because something has served its original purpose, shouldn’t mean it’s destined for the landfill. By repurposing used material, you not only make a positive impact on the environment, you also add a unique character to your project.

One of our best examples of this is the reclaimed material used in the remodel of Hammer & Hand’s SE Portland office. The desks, railing, and floors are made of reclaimed bleachers from a local high school. To add extra character, we placed found objects in the holes and filled them with lacquer to create a flat, continuous surface.

Builder Hammer & Hand SE Portland Headquarters

Hammer and Hand carries this building ethos into all of our projects by using reclaimed material when possible and utilizing excess materials from one build site to complete another. With the Musician’s Dwelling project shown below, wood reclaimed and upcycled from a barn at the Oregon State Mental Hospital (of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest fame) was used for the exterior of the home.

Musician's Dwelling by Portland Builder Hammer & Hand


P.S. If you want to do your own Kintsukuroi project, there are kits available through Amsterdam based Humade.

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