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Finding Beauty in the Imperfect
Recently, I was helping a friend of mine pack up her dishes in preparation for getting some remodeling work done. It went fine till the end of the night when a vase got broken. The vase had been her grandmother's, I think she brought it with her from Italy. This piece meant a lot to her, and she decided she wanted to try to fix it. She carefully picked up the pieces and put them all in a box to be glued together later. The pieces were a pretty good size and she thought it would go together relatively easily.  However when she went to glue it together weeks later, she noticed that she was missing a couple smaller pieces. Furthermore, some of the larger pieces, when put together, were noticeably chipped and there were gaps. There was no way this vase was going to look beautiful with just super glue. She called me, and I told her I had seen something on Pinterest that might work perfectly.
In Japan, broken objects are often repaired with gold. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the objects history, which adds to its beauty. Kintsugi, also known as Kintsukuroi, is the art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold silver or platinum. The work kintsugi means “golden joinery,” and Kintsukuroi means “golden repair”. The technique intentionally highlights the flaws in the piece and makes them noticeable. The broken piece, once beautiful, is made beautiful again in-spite of its imperfections.
 “Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated... a kind of physical expression of the spirit of mushin....Mushin is often literally translated as “no mind,” but carries connotations of fully existing within the moment, of non-attachment, of equanimity amid changing conditions. ...The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject. This poignancy or aesthetic of existence has been known in Japan as mono no aware, a compassionate sensitivity, or perhaps identiļ¬cation with, [things] outside oneself.” (Christy Bartlett, Flickwerk: The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics)

There are a couple of different types of Kintsugi:
  • Crack: This is when the resin/gold mixture is used to attach pieces back together, where no pieces are missing.
  • Piece method: when you are missing pieces so the space is filled in with the resin/gold mixture.
  • Joint call:  this is when a piece is missing and you take a piece that is about the same size and use it to fill in the empty space -- kind of a patchwork effect. This type has such great creative possibilities.
There are also applications of this technique being used in other materials. Just imagine that you have this beautiful old wood table that is splitting. You could use the principles of Kintsugi to join the pieces back together so that the table could continue to be functional for years to come. In this table (see picture), you can see the technique applied. With this type of repair, usually a bow-tie shape is used to join the pieces; but in this one, the artist got creative and made the joinery pieces into birds. The effect is breathtaking.  It not only fixes the flaw, but also adds an aesthetic element which adds depth and interest to the piece. 

If you would like to learn how to fix your own broken pieces using Kintsugi, I found a great tutorial and short video from One Kings Lane-

As always, Happy Decorating!



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