Chiara Lorenzetti was 15 when her father gave her two biscuit dolls as a gift. They were vintage objects and pretty damaged, so Chiara decided to repair them. It was the beginning of her career as a restorer. Years later, after studying art and restoration in Florence and taking courses in gold plating on wood and archaeological restoration, in 1991 she set up her workshop in Biella. And then, something happened. A friend of hers suggested that she learn kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing ceramics with lacquer and gold dust. Kintsugi was almost unknown in Europe at the time, and Chiara was skeptical at the beginning. But she gave it a try, and fell so much in love with it that she studied hard to become an expert, learning first the technique from online tutorials and then investigating the philosophy behind it. In 2023, Chiara published “Kintsugi, the art of repairing with gold”, a textbook dedicated to the technical aspect of her craft as well as to its history and philosophy.Read the full interview
Using gold to repair ceramics, you are not hiding its fractures, but highlighting them to create a new, better object. Kintsugi is known as “the art of imperfection” because the starting point is something broken, but the restoration should be flawless and the result a work of art.Is your technique faithful to tradition?
Absolutely. In western countries it’s common to use epoxy resin and glitter, but I’ve always kept to the original materials, even if they are not easy to find: urushi lacquer coming from the sap of a tree that only grows in South East Asia, and 23 3/4 carat Japanese gold dust.
In 2018, I was invited to participate in a Japanese television show dedicated to foreigners working with Japanese culture. I spent three days with master Hiroki Kiyokawa, who shared his expertise with me, fixing my mistakes. I even accompanied him to draw sap from urushi trees.How do you choose the objects to repair?
In a way, they call me. My favourite subjects are cups and bowls, raku pottery and brightly coloured items. At the beginning, I used to break objects on purpose to work on them, but nowadays most stuff comes from my network of Italian artisans and antique shops.