October 26, 2021

Broken Bonsai Pot? No Problem! Modern Methods for Ceramic Repair Through Kintsugi

           Whether from poor packaging or handling during shipping, a strong wind, a pet-related accident, or just our own clumsiness, everyone in bonsai eventually has to deal with the frustration of a broken bonsai pot. If you found this article because this recently happened to you, don't despair. You do have options. You could repair the pot so the cracks from its catastrophe are barely visible, but in the esoteric world of bonsai aesthetics, generations of Japanese ceramics before us have developed a more artistic way to mend broken pots - this is the process known as kintsugi. 
        This article began from my own research into methods of kintsugi repair so I could repair one of my broken pots.  Like in other areas of bonsai, there is a centuries-old, established, traditional technique but there are also more modern methods that can make the process of mending pots faster, simpler, and cheaper. The objective of this article is straightforward - find step-by-step information that is doable for an amateur (like me), and then narrow down potential methods by expected durability, quality of end product, time to complete the repair, cost of materials, and convenience to locate said materials. To evaluate this list of considerations, I summarized the pros and cons of each method according to my findings and interviews with people who have tried each technique (See the summary table at the end for the short version). Finally, I modified the winning kintsugi repair protocol for use on my pot and I will share that process & result next time.