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Using pure gold to repair cracks

Dear Sir, I was reading about a process for repairing porcelain, which I believe, is Japanese. It uses pure gold to repair cracks. Do you know what it is called and who might know how to do it in the USA?

Japanese "gold lacquer repairs"

Sometimes the sadness of having had a beautiful piece of porcelain cracked or damaged makes us all want to be able to make this good again. One thing one then hear, is that the Japanese know about a way to repair porcelain with fine gold.

Now, I am afraid this will remain a dream, but if anyone has a clue to a real process, that would be interesting to know.

I have looked into the practical possibilities of this and come to the conclusion that gold in itself can not be used as a bonding media, since fine gold as such lacks any adhesion or bonding properties.

The traditional way of repairing broken porcelain was either to glue the pieces together or, to drill holes in the ceramic material and fasten the pieces together with metallic staples or by just tying them together with a string. Both methods severely lack in aesthetic appeal.

Regarding the use of staples, metallic gold could possibly have been used as the staples themselves, or as filling around copper, iron or zinc staples - to hold them in place.

The more likely possibility is that what you are referring to is, Japanese "gold lacquer repairs". In this the damage was actually repaired with lacquer where the lacquer itself provides the adhesive, and fine gold is mixed into the lacquer to accentuate the importance of the piece being repaired and to give the lacquer a color, instead of it looking like "glue".

This is as far as I come on this and I hope it helps at least some. If someone more have any further information on this I would be grateful to hear.

Thank you for your interest.

Best regards,
Jan-Erik Nilsson

Sources for further information on repairs, conservation and restoration

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC)
1717 K Street, NW, Suite 301
Washington, D.C. 20006

National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property
The Papermill, Suite 202
3299 K Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC)
6 Buckingham Street
London WC2N 6BA, England

The International Council of Museums (ICOMUS) Committee for Conservation Maison de I''Unesco
1 rue Miolis Paris XVe, France

The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and the Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM)
13 Via di San Michele
00153 Rome, Italy

The United Kingdom Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (UKIC, Ceramics & Glass Group)
109 The Chandlery
50 Westminster Bridge Rd.
London SE1 7QY

South African Guild of Ceramics Restorers and Conservators
PO Box 122
Joubertina, Republic of South Africa 6410
Ph: +27 0 42 2731567
Fax: +27 0 42 2732177