Beautifully Broken Things | Kintsugi – Art of Repairing Japanese Pottery with Gold

“The world breaks everyone, then some become strong at the broken places.” Ernest Hemingway

Kintsugi is a Japanese method of artful pottery repair using gold to fill the cracks of a broken piece.

The pieces are considered more beautiful and valuable than before because of their brokenness and careful mending.

Brokenness, in one form or another, inevitably enters every life – broken dishes, broken bones, broken dreams, hearts, spirits.

image of porcelin cup repared - Kintsugi

Psalm 147:3 assures us that our Father heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Depending on how we learn to view our brokenness and healing, we can come to see ourselves as even more beautiful and stronger than we’d have been if our brokenness and mending had never occurred.

Kintsugi is a beautiful physical representation of this concept.

In this breakout session we will enact the “breaking”, “mending” and finally the ”gilded-beautification” of our own personal piece of pottery as we contemplate the ways in which brokenness has appeared in our lives and the ways in which our Father can recreate us, working all things, even broken things, for our good and His glory.

image of women creating Kintsugi

Recommended Reading: Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole by Angie Smith


  • Piece of ceramic pottery 
  • Pillowcase
  • Hammer
  • Small metal file or coarse sandpaper
  • Super glue (gel works best) or Gorilla Epoxy
  • Exacto knife
  • Q-tips
  • Acetone
  • Gold leaf pen or paint (and thin artist’s paint brush) – found at craft stores
women creating Kintsugi


  1. Choose a piece of ceramic pottery.
  2. Place inside a pillowcase and drop on the floor or hit with a hammer.  The goal is to smash the pottery into several fairly large pieces without crumbling it too much.
  3. Figure out how the pieces fit together. It’s okay, even desirable, to have some holes or raw edges in the piece if some of the pottery breaks too small to reassemble. In order to have some areas that really show the gold leafing, I file down some of my edges to make the cracks wider in some areas. A metal file or even coarse sandpaper can be used for this.  Glue the piece back together using super glue (on one edge only works best). Be patient holding the edges together until they bond – this may take more than a few minutes. Any glue that squeezes out of the cracks can be cleaned up after drying with a q-tip soaked with acetone, or scraped off with an Exacto knife so that the gold leaf has a place to settle into.  I have also read that Gorilla Epoxy works well for this project,too, but it will leave a fairly large bead of glue in the cracks that will need to be cleaned up after the glue cures.
  4. Apply the gold leaf along the cracks and raw edges, either with a thin artist brush, if using gold leaf paint, or with a gold leaf pen. If the gold leaf extends too far outside the cracks for your liking, you can clean up with a q-tip soaked in acetone.
image of women creating Kintsugi

Please share pictures and thoughts in the comments below.

Looking for more posts with ideas for retreat breakout sessions? Try these:

Faithful Frames and Prayer Plaques

Crochet for Christ

Polymer Clay Pens

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image of women creating Kintsugi

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  1. We did this with the women at our breast cancer survivors retreat. It was a beautiful lesson for these women who feel broken.

  2. Hi, I am thinking of doing this with a group of 15 year old girls. How long would you need for the this project?

    1. We plan for an hour and 15 minutes for our sessions. We try to do it early so the pieces can then sit and dry while we do other activities.

  3. I’m so glad that I found this. There is a song that I have from The Florida Boys called Broken Vessels. It’s all about how God, being the master Potter, can put back our broken lives and make us whole again. I make different crafts and do craft fairs, etc. I have always wanted to take some broken clay flower pots and put them back together but in a very decorative way and called them “Broken Vessels Made Anew” or something to that effect and this gives me just the right idea. It won’t be the same as this retreat project but as soon as I can get one finished I will share with you.

  4. I don’t see any pictures of completed pieces. Please post. This sounds like a great project for our teen girl’s summer camp.

    1. Hi Mel! I wish I had pictures of completed pieces, but I’m not sure I took any…. just took so many from the process of it all. Next time, I’ll make sure I take some and in the meantime, I will try to contact some of the ladies and see if they could send me a picture. I’d love for anyone to share photos of finished pieces so I could share them here. Thanks so much for taking time to comment. I know the ladies all found this session meaningful.

  5. Is there any pottery that we should stay away from? We might use this for a session during a retreat for women in recovery. It would be bad for this not to work well.

    1. Hi Sherri, I asked your question to my good friend who led this session, and here is her response – “I might stay away from fine China or porcelain and go with thicker ceramic. The finer, thinner pieces were much more difficult to glue and some couldn’t get their piece to glue at all. The thicker pieces like the mug I bought from (friend/potter) worked the best. Also, I advise that the leader try it herself at home first so she can offer hints and encouragement to her participants. She’ll know what they’re experiencing and how to guide them better. Finally, I would advise her not to pulverize the pieces when breaking. A few larger pieces to glue together is better than lots of little pieces.”

      Hope that helps! Let me know how it goes! <3 ~Julie

      1. I had the same experience…for “fine” china, the sanding really helped, but I still had participants who couldn’t put together their pieces. Gorilla glue gel worked the best; I tried, super glue, lock-tite, and nothing worked. Also, as a note, the pure acetone ATE THE BOTTOM out of the little plastic cups I was using for each participant.

  6. Hi! Last weekend I hosted my annual women’s conference and one of the speakers spoke about Kintsugi. It immediately sparked a theme for next year’s conference. So this morning I began to search for suggestions for breakout sessions and here you are with Kintsugi. I think I’m going to utilize your idea next year. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you. It was such a moving activity as so many of us feel broken in one way or another. Blessings, Julie

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