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The Art of Putting Things Back Together

Cup mended using the kintsugi technique

Can something broken be more beautiful than it was originally?  The ancient Japanese art of kintsugi says that this is definitely a possibility!

It’s heartbreaking when you drop your favourite cup or damage a plate from a set that has special meaning for you.  Often, we just grab the dustpan and sweep the smashed pieces into the bin.  Alternatively, you might reach for the superglue and try to put the bits back together hoping that no one will notice.

However, in Japan there exists an ancient art which uses special techniques to repair ceramics and pottery.  But instead of trying to hide the repair or make the item look ‘as good as new’, the repair is done so artistically and with such care that it becomes part of the item, transforming it into something with its own intrinsic beauty.  This art is called kintsugi

Kintsugi is a technique which uses lacquer and resin coloured with gold to repair cracked or broken ceramics and sometimes to fill in a missing piece with a contrasting or mismatched piece from another bowl or plate.

The art of kintsugi was born out of the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, this being the idea of seeing beauty and value in flaws and imperfections and accepting those flaws as part of life.  Aren’t we all a little flawed?  And, of course, it is our faults and flaws that make each one of us unique and wonderful!

In a typically Japanese way, this philosophy can be applied to even the small and trivial things around us such as the things we use at home.  Taking care of our belongings means they will last a long time and will still look lovely after many years.

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