Embracing the Broken; the Art of Kintsugi

This is America, and we love to throw things away. It's the truth. Think of all the things you throw away throughout the course of a day, a week, a month, a year. It certainly adds up. Something is either old and it just doesn't work anymore, or maybe it broke and doesn't have any use. It becomes easy, almost second nature, to toss things away because the shelf life of most modern products is engineered to be short. They just don't make them like they used to, right? But I'm here to tell you that, at least in the case of a few household items, it doesn't have to be that way.

We have this obsession, as human people, with everything new. The newest phone. The most updated Computer. The cleanest homes. It would be easy to make some sort of statement on what that says about our culture, but I'll leave those conclusions to you, dear reader. What I'm here to do is advocate for the exact opposite of the new; the old. The broken. The dated. The used. The Japanese have been doing something for centuries to keep they things they use daily.

Kintsugi is the Japanese tradition of repairing broken items (originally pottery) with a resin material mixed with gold or silver. Practically, it's a way to keep broken items around even after they've outlived their original life. Philosophically, it's a way to highlight the flaws and imperfections in broken items as an event in the life of said item. All the sudden, the newly repaired item has life again, and a story to go along with it, to make it even more beautiful and more valuable than before. 

This theory can be aplied to your home as well as individual pieces, and makes for some really visually stuning details. Below I've highlighted a few of these details (as well as one from my own shop). So don't throw it away, repair it and enjoy the old!

Above: examples of applying the Kintsugi tradition on something other than your bowls or plates. Also, you don't have to use gold when making your repairs, as long as you're not making efforts to cover up the flaw. Which brings me to...

Below: a while back I made a frame for a piece of art we have at home. It's a beautiful old 3/4 elevation of Atlanta from 1890. At first glance, you might not be able to catch the issue. But when you measure once instead of twice, you make mistakes. Rather than throw out the whole frame and start from scratch, I spliced in a few leftover cut pieces, and now I have a beautifully flawed frame (of course, if anyone asks, I did it on purpose).

Below: a few more examples of uses outside of pottery. In this case, flooring. Instead of filling concrete with more off-color concrete, or trying to repair cracks marble or granite with a composite filler, glam up your space with gold!