. . . that was the moment I became educated
about an ancient practice in Japan, known as ‘kintsugi’.
Living life in a small space tends to encourage zen-like simplicity. I find myself giving due consideration to most objects I bring home. So when it comes to items that are not of a practical nature, I am even more ruthless in my weighing up. I ask myself… do I really need it?
I’ve wandered in and out of Moonrise Studios in Mullumbimby for over a year now. Stopping to admire and desire the hand-made ceramics by the gallery owner, Blossom Young, more times than I’d like to admit. So when the buying of Christmas gifts was recently on the agenda, I decided to treat myself.
I explored every surface of this beautiful little white, light filled, gallery looking for the right piece . Being on a budget, my choices became refined. I was just about to give up when I noticed a little plate nestled on a shelf behind the front counter, with a blue web-like design, and asked if I could see it. Oh it has a crack in it… damn… (think again)… oh that doesn’t matter, it’s the design I love and it’s the perfect size. I asked Blossom if the crack could be filled, and that was the moment I became educated about an ancient practice in Japan, known as ‘kintsugi’.
The term ‘kintsugi’ means golden joinery in Japanese and refers to the ancient art of fixing broken ceramics with a lacquer resin made to look like solid gold. It is thought that these vessels become more gorgeous, and more precious, than before they were fractured. Many Japanese cherish the imperfection of a broken pot repaired in this way, seeing it as a creative addition and/or rebirth of the pot’s life story. (Source: Dick Lehman)
I had to wait about a week while Blossom lovingly filled the cracked plate before it was bought home for ‘kintsugi’. The sense of ritual was immediately apparent. The appropriate materials were gathered and laid out on the table: cotton gloves, small fine brushes, specialist glue and gold leaf sheets. Slowly the glue was applied to the crack line. A waiting of 15 minutes was needed for the glue to cure. Sitting patiently, an opportunity to bring presence to the task was deafening. Time’s up! A flutter of excitement as cotton gloved fingers tore tiny pieces of gold leaf from the glistening sheets; gently allowing them to float down on the tip of a brush onto the glue. Painstakingly the crack began to emerge as a volcanic outflow across the patterned landscape. It’s glowing imperfection now offering beauty and new life.
I love my little plate from Moonrise Studios. It sits on my bedroom dresser, offering it’s pattern and gold imperfection to my eye every day. It’s an object I’m glad I’ve brought into my small space. It gifts the simplest of pleasures. As an artist, it especially reminds me to allow the beauty of so called ‘imperfection’ into my creativity… and even more so, in life.
Note: Thanks to ceramicist, Dick Lehman, for his article – Kintsugi: gold repair of ceramic faults. The complete article is here.