I am Chiara Lorenzetti, a restorer of ceramics.

I almost casually met the beauty of the Kintsugi art and immediately fell in love with it. At first I studied the technique, the materials and its use; then, understanding the symbolic value of the technique, I studied the history, the Zen philosophy, the tea ceremony, the ceramic and the art that develops around it. Thence, I wrote an essay, purchasable on Amazon, “Kintsugi, l’arte di riparare con l’oro”.
As a restorer, I immediately tried to respect the traditional standard of the Japanese Kintsugi art, deciding from the very beginning to discard the use of the modern Western version with epoxy resin and glitter. Therefore, I use urushi lacquer mixed with tomoko and real gold dust, gold dust imitation and silver dust.
I began to work on objects brought to me by clients, but soon I felt the need to create a personal series of ceramics, which I called “Imperfetti”.

I search for Japanese ceramics or ceramics made by Italian artists, if possible damaged, broken, imperfect. On them, I create a breakage with a hammer, an intentional and guided breakage: in my mind I imagine the cracks and the lines that will appear. Every breakage is not a destruction, but a creation, and its imperfection will live a new, unique and golden perfection.

 

The Kintsugi art: history of Japan under Ashigaka Yoshimasa

Kintsugi, literally ‘repairing with gold’, is a Japanese technique used to repair ceramic objects. The fractures are left visible, actually highlighted with gold dust, in order to create a new object, a piece of art.

The Kintsugi technique origins in Japan during the Muromachi period, under the shogunate of Ashigaka Yoshimasa (1435-1490). This is a prolific period, from the cultural point of view, called Higashiyama bunka: there are many arts, often imported from China, which arrive in Japan and later are transformed by the philosophy of zen Buddhism. Yoshimasa liked to surround himself with artists and poets in his temple-palace Ginkaku-ji and it was him who gave birth to the cha no yu culture, the tea ceremony, in Japan. The tenmoku cups, low and round, manufactured by master ceramists according to the wabi sabi aesthetic, enriched the ceremony as key part of the ritual. The highest importance was given to the cup: the tea master filled it slowly, turned it many times, then handed it to the guests who, after drinking the tea, praised its beauty.

One of those cups, perhaps the most precious one or the one he loved the most, fell from the hands of Ashigaka Yoshimasa. Immediately it had been taken to skilful Chinese ceramists: the art of ceramics, in fact, was still unusual in Japan, to the extent that in Seto, area of ceramic production, there were only six kilns. The Chinese ceramists repaired the cup according to their standard process, fixing the broken parts with iron braces to sew the fractures. This kind of restoration makes the object solid and durable, but harms the ceramic irreversibly, given the need to make holes in order for the iron thread to pass through for the sewing.

The reaction of the eighth shogun was furious when he saw the ruined cup. The Japanese ceramists tried to repair it using the wabi-sabi aesthetic and the materials at hand. To glue the broken tenmoku pieces they used urushi lacquer, a local sap extracted from the Rhus verniciflua. The fracture lines were highligted with red lacquer and covered with gold dust.

Yoshimasa praised the result: not only had his cup been repaired, but it also had been reborn to a new life, loaded with its imperfections and, because of that, full of beauty: it had become unique.

Who I am

Chiara Lorenzetti, restorer, artistically born in 1991.
After attending the Istituto per l’Arte e il Restauro “Palazzo Spinelli” in Florence, I set up my shop, Chiarartè, in Biella, in the historic antique shop of my father, in Via Cernaia. I mostly work with ceramics, with conservative and aestethical restorations. A special attention is paid on the restoration of biscuits, papier-mache, composite and wax dolls, in cooperation with important collectors and period toys shops.

A few years later, the passion for art and knowledge made me attend a course in gold platin on wood, in Florence, an experience resulting in the restoration of polychrome and gilded wooden objects, statues and frames. I started an active cooperation with restorers of paintings and woodworkers, in order to handle complex and comprehensive restorations, supplying a complete service to the client.

Two years ago, after my father closed his workshop, I moved to Via Novellino 16, in Biella Chiavazza, a small and bright workshop where I continue my business, supporting it through my website and social networks, Facebook first of all.
With my online presence, I created a strong reputation; I follow and cooperate in many groups of ceramists and collectors of ceramics and dolls. On my personal blog, Squarci di silenzio, I write about art and on the blog of Biella’s Rete al Femminile about craftmanship, cooperating with other bloggers.
In 2007 I received the Eccellenza Artigiana, award issued by the Piedmont Region.

With the aim of continuous research, as incentive for my business, I started to study the ancient Japanese Kintsugi technique, which reapairs fractures in ceramic with gold; from the very beginning I used local urushi laquer, tomoko and gold dust, until I reached the complete mastery, discarding the idea of using epoxy resin and glitter, as commonly done in western countries.

At present, I am one of the few restorers in Europe using the original Japanese Kintsugi technique, a technique which is currently little used even in Japan. I wrote the manual “Kintsugi, l’arte di riparare con l’oro” (Kintsugi, the art of repairing with gold), where I outline the historical period in which the Kintsugi art was born, the cultural and artistical context, the technique itself, it’s implementation and the Zen philosophy.

I practice the Kintsugi art both on client owned pieces and on ceramics made by ceramic artists; I created the series “Imperfetti”: as artist and restorer, I break small pieces with baking defects, which the ceramists discard, in order to repair them with urushi lacquer and gold dust.

I’m teaching a few classes.
An experience-based workshop focusing on manual and spiritual art, “Kintsugi, l’arte di valorizzare le crepe della vita” (Kintsugi, the art of enhancing fractures in life), in cooperation with the psychlogist Stefania Macchieraldo, in which one works with a simplified Kintsugi technique on ceramics and on oneself and one’s wounds with the psychodrama.
The workshop “Kintsugi, l’arte di riparare con l’oro” (Kintsugi, the art of repairing with gold), a 4 hours workshop to learn the simplified Kintsugi technique with glue and gold dust open to anyone, and the workshop “Kintsugi, l’arte originale giapponese” (Kintsugi, the original Japanese art), for those who have artistic aptitude and manual skills, in which I teach the original Japanese technique with urushi lacquer and gold dust.

Website: www.chiaraarte.it
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Chiaraarte/
Blog: https://squarcidisilenzio.wordpress.com/