kintsugi – the golden seam

Billie Bond sculpture 2014 Kintsugi Head

Löysin jälleen japanilaisesta käsityökulttuurista jotain, mitä olen fanittanut jo vuosia, mutten ole tiennyt sille nimeä. Kintsugi on 500 vuotta vanha keramiikan korjaustekniikka ja taidemuoto, joss arikkoutunut esine palautetaan käyyttöön yhdistämällä kappleet toisiinsa kultalakalla. Kultainen sauma tekee korjauksesta näkyvän ja itse esineestä kauniimman. Wabi-sabi on japanilaisen estetiikan käsite ja se yhdistetään läheisesti zenbuddhalaisuuteen. Sitä kuvataan monesti epätäydellisyydessä, keskeneräisyydessä ja häviävyydessä olevaksi kauneudeksi sekä yksinkertaisuuden ja vaatimattomuuden ihannoimiseksi. Olen aina ihannoinut ihmisiä ja käsityöläisiä, jotka osaavat korjata ja entisöidä vanhaa. Sitä tekemäni kierrätysvaatteetkin tavallaan ovat. Pidän käyttämieni materiaalien virheistä ja niiden tarinasta. Ne ovat aitoja ja aitous on kaunista. Olen siis tavallaan epätäydellisyyden esteetikko.



Kintsugi, the Japanese craft of mending pottery with gold seams. In kintsugi, Japanese craftsmen use resin, lacquer and gold dust to fix cracks in ceramics, showing and enhancing, rather than attempting to hide, the history of the piece. The technique, translates as “golden joinery”. It is also referred to as kintsukuroi or “golden repair.” The process differs from other artistic restoration techniques in that visibility–or invisibility–of repair is not a concern. In fact, kintsugi restorations are so obvious that they can be considered nothing less than celebrations of use. The repair adds to the original design of the piece and can be a design feature as itself.

Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Japanese esthetics values marks of wear by the use of an object. This is called wabi-sabi. This can be seen as a rationale for keeping an object around even after it has broken and as a justification of kintsugi itself, highlighting the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage. Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities of buddhism: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. Celebrating an objects life by visible and decorative repairs and mending is wabi-sabi.

This way of thinking can also be applied to society and spirituality. It is a way to deal with suffering and loss. In western culture, design has mostly been about symmetry and perfection reached through natural flawless growth (the golden mean). We often view broken objects that they have lost their value. I see objects differently. The price of an item does not equal as their value. Practitioners and admirers of kintsugi believe that neverending consumerism is not a spiritually rewarding experience. In buddhism the beauty is found in natural forms and imperfections. Holding on to a piece and fixing it has much more value.

My goal for 2016 is to become better at mending and taking care of clothes and other objects that I own. I believe when we try to cover up our own histories is when we become truly broken. It has a lot to do with shame. But there is a beauty in acceptance, in honoring who we are in all our glorious imperfections. This is why I love scars, worn surfaces and imperfections. They tell a story. They have history. But instead of hiding it, embrace it. Put some gold on it and show it. Be an aesthetic of imperfection.


kintsugi plates 2

CATHERINE BERTOLA Seam installation 2007

gold repair wall tile

kintsugi plates


gold repair wall tile 3



Liza Lou Pray (2010) 1



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