Making of the Kintsugi Table
Hello all! Welcome to the first installment of my “Making Of” series.
Life is all about the journey, not just the destination. And my tables are no different.
Whether your table is a custom design we work on together from start to finish, or an already finished project purchased through my showroom at Urbanite… each Black Rose WoodCraft table comes with it’s own unique story.
This is the story of The Kintsugi Table.
Near the end of 2020, a potential new client and his wife contacted me about creating a statement piece for their new home. They were looking not just for a large dining table, but for a piece of art. And I was more than eager to take on that challenge.
After going over the specifics they wanted for their dream table, they put nearly all of the creative freedom into my own hands. They had seen other tables I had done and had complete faith that I would help them create the show-stopper they were looking for.
I thrive under that kind of pressure!
The clients knew they wanted a large, resin dining table and I had the perfect slabs already in mind for them. We went to visit Mark Dubac from Windwood here in Portland. It’s a one-man small milling business and he also sells incredibly unique slabs from his home.
These two American Elm slabs had been speaking to me for weeks and as soon as I set them out to my clients as I had planned in my head they were sold.
The first step was creating the mold specifically needed for resin tables. I used melanin and packing tape to build the mold to size - leaving the slabs slightly larger than their final size.
After caulking the bottom of the slabs, I placed a bead of silicon around the top edges where the resin will go. It acts as a mini dam just in case there’s a little overflow during the resin pour.
I sent the clients different examples of resin colors. The wife loved a previous table I’d done that was an aqua color. Now, the thing about resin coloring is there’s no such thing as exact color matching. A lot of it is guesswork and experience.
For this table, I decided to use a resin I had used many times before. Due to the size I was going to end up using over 8 gallons. Now, there are mid-range resins and high-range resins specifically made for these types of “deep” pours (aka anything between .5”-2” deep). Although the specific resin I was using wasn’t labeled as a deep pour resin, I had used it so many times before that I didn’t question the move otherwise…
Can you sense the foreshadowing here?
The pour went to plan.
But the cure did NOT.
For those of you unfamiliar with the whole resin process, resin epoxy is a two-part liquid. When mixed and poured together it creates a chemical reaction that heats up, releasing a lot of vapor and the liquid eventually condenses into a solid. That is if things go 100% according to plan.
Sometimes the chemical reaction doesn’t get hot enough and your resin can come out gummy and kind of soft to the touch.
And other times the chemical reaction gets TOO hot. If you don’t have a large enough surface area per volume, the heat caused by the chemical reaction can’t escape fast enough through the vapor. The chemical reaction goes into a super speed mode and it forms into a solid too fast, causing fissures to occur.
Can you guess which one happened to me?
I walked into my shop the morning after the cure expecting perfection, but seeing nothing but cracks.
I was beyond upset.
My greatest and most artistic table to date looked like it may have to go straight to the trash. Those slabs were SO unique. There was no way we could salvage them in this state. The beauty of those slabs would never make it out into the world and that though alone nearly broke me.
What the hell was I going to do?
I researched everything I could get my hands on about people with similar experiences - and the results weren’t making me very hopeful.
If you can catch the overheating in the early stages you can try and put fans on the resin to help cool it down as it continues to cure, but I was too far past that point.
I could use a completely different color resin (like black or dark purple) to fill into the fissures but after reading some more horror stories on how a darker color can sometimes bleed into a lighter one when doing something like that, I scratched that possibility quick.
So the only solution I could think of was to try and match the color and pour more resin into the fissures. But like I’ve mentioned color matching resin is nearly impossible. I could get SUPER close, but there was going to be no way I’d be able to hide these big cracks. I decided to just attempt the color match and hope for the best.
It was not the best.
It turned out exactly as I thought it would go - close, but not close enough so that you didn’t notice.
That’s when I had a breakdown.
I was convinced that the table was unsalvageable. That these incredibly expensive materials had gone to waste. That I was going to have to tell my clients that their dream table wasn’t going to be able to happen anymore.
And then my girlfriend suggested that I paint the lines gold.
I was skeptical. Gold?
But then she showed me images of Kintsugi - a Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the broken areas with a mixture of gold and lacquer. Instead of trying to hide the breakage of an object, it celebrates it.
An interior designer I work with was in my shop picking up a project I had made for her. I showed her the broken table and asked if she had any ideas. She didn’t but she thought the table was absolutely beautiful otherwise.
That’s when I told her what my girlfriend had mentioned about Kintsugi. She freaked. Apparently Kintsugi was all the rage right now.
And that’s when everything clicked. I knew how I was going to fix this table.
Suddenly I became OBSESSED over this idea. This was the way to go. Something that’s never been done before. I could feel in my bones that this was going to be an absolute masterpiece. The gold lines, the aqua resin, the elm slabs, the art of finding beauty in broken things… I knew this is what we were going to do.
I called my clients to break the news - and present the new idea. Thankfully, I was working with clients who wanted something part table AND part art. They trusted me and gave me the green light on it.
I got to work right away.
I wasn’t going to just paint gold lines. I was going to create them using a blend of gold flakes and gold resin to create a more textured and dynamic look. I used a compact router to re-cut the original cracks about a quarter inch deep, and added about twice as many “cracks” throughout the resin to give it a more pleasing aesthetic look based on traditional Kintsugi pottery.
I knew in my bones that this was the solution. So by the time we saw the end-result it was exactly how I had envisioned. The feeling of what I had created was the greatest feeling that I could possibly have.
Not only did I save these beautiful slabs and expensive projects, but I created something that’s never been done before on dining tables.
And it looked KILLER.
The cherry on top was the way the client’s reacted to the finished project. It was the best reaction I’ve ever had on a project delivery. The really crazy part was that they already had artwork in the dining room that was aqua and gold with a gold frame that matched the table perfectly… as if the Kintsugi Table was always meant to be.
I hope you guys enjoyed getting a more in-depth behind the scenes look at this process. Stay tuned for more soon to come!
Comment below your thoughts and comments!