Teaching ancient techniques in Tauranga
Illuminating imperfections in gold transforms broken ceramics and pottery into gaze-worthy pieces through the ancient techniques of kintsugi.
Auckland-based Ema Frost, is an artist of “too many things” including painting, sculpture, illustration and ceramic art.
Gaining joy from kintsugi, she is delighted to be sharing her love of the Japanese artform through her self-led workshops here in Tauranga at the Historic Village this month.
“Kintsugi is an ancient Japanese artform where you fix broken pottery with gold,” says Ema.
“There’s a really nice philosophy behind it – it’s about embracing the imperfections and not trying to hide anything.”
“How it came about was, in the Tokyo Imperial Palace [the main residence of the Emperor of Japan] a piece broke and they sent it to an expert over to China and he fixed it.” However, Ema says the results were disappointing after the breaks were mended with staples.
“They ended up giving that piece to the local craftsman to come up with something better…and that’s where kintsugi was born.”
Japan to NZ
Much of Ema’s work is influenced by Japan, which further grew from a trip to the country in 2016.
“I think in a past life I was Japanese,” says Ema with a laugh. “I love everything Japanese.”
While in Japan Ema took kintsugi workshops and carried these skills with her back to NZ, where she has been teaching the art for more than three years now.
Traditionally, kinstsugi techniques used resin from the Urishi tree, however this is extremely slow-drying and would take a month to dry, says Ema.
Her workshops uses a modern resin mix, which allows pieces to be completed in one session.
“This is the most efficient contemporary way that still gives the same results, and this is using gold powder [in the resin], and then I also use gold leaf because of the vibrancy of the gold that really makes it pop,” says Ema.
Ema says you have to be “really present” during the kintsugi process and describes it as both meditative and therapeutic.
“A mother and daughter came up from Christchurch and they had some family heirloom pieces that were broken in the earthquake,” says Ema.
“They’d held onto them obviously and didn’t know what to do with them and then did this process [kinstsugi] on them. They just loved it – they were able to display it again, and still show everything that it had gone through now back in one piece.”
Ema’s kintsugi workshops will be held on Sunday, June 12, from 10.30am-12.30pm and 2pm-4pm at The Artery based in The Historic Village.
To book visit: https://www.theincubator.co.nz/the-artery
For Ema’s Sunday, August 14, workshop visit: https://emafrost.com/collections/workshop